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David W. Ratto

Death Notice
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David W. Ratto

David William Ratto, of Millbrae, son of the late David and Sif Ratto, died in his sleep on February 21, 2014. He was 92. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Lucille A. Ratto, who died in 1992. He is survived by his sister Gertrude E. Skrable, her husband Burman, and their four sons, Burman Jr., Donald, Russell, and Patrick.


 Mr. Ratto was a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, where he had been a quietly important fixture of Bay Area life. He grew up in South San Francisco. After serving with distinction in the Navy during WWII he participated in six major Pacific naval engagements aboard the Battleship Idaho for which he was awarded the Silver and Bronze stars, he returned to South City where he was a partner in D.W. Ratto Real Estate and Insurance until shortly after the death of his father in 1976. He was also former president of Macartney Patents, Ltd., and Macartney Enterprises.


 He had the gift of being an astute investor, a gift he returned in the form of quiet generosity to family, friends and public organizations. His gifts educated several of the children of his four nephews. He was generous with his time as well as his wealth, as his membership in numerous business, civic, and charitable organizations attests. He had been president of St. Vincent de Paul Society in San Bruno, treasurer of Catholic Charities of San Mateo, a member of Guide Dogs for the Blind, South San Francisco Historical Society, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, as well as the Humane Society, and several others. While in the real estate business, he served as Vice President and life member of the South San Francisco Insurance Agents Association.


 Mr. Ratto was an avid hunter and skilled fly fisherman and those interests resulted in his being president of the Industrial City Cattle Ranch and Duck Club and a member of Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl Association, and the National Rifle Association. He was a man of many skills. He was a skilled carpenter and woodworker who made numerous articles of furniture for family members, some of them from wartime souvenirs. He was an excellent cook, especially of Italian dishes, and this skill led him into a long-time friendship with the famed public speaker, world traveler, TV personality and author of The Burma Road, Nicol Smith, who was also his best man.


 Over his long and productive life, Mr. Ratto had an amazingly broad range of fascinating friends and acquaintances, from those of "upper-world" fame, Smith, Betty Grable and Harry James to "underworld characters" such as Abe "The Trigger" Chapman, hit man for Murder, Inc., and Barbara Graham, the first woman executed for murder in California. Although he refused to own a residence, he proved to be an innovative gardener, bringing forth enormous quantities of vegetables from the unforgiving alkali soil of his duck club in Los Banos, to the amazement of the members and local residents. This self-effacing and, in the last years of his life, rather reclusive man has touched many lives in ways he nor many of those he affected will never know.


 Family and friends are invited to visit Tuesday, February 25, 2014 after 6:00 PM and to attend the 7:00 PM Vigil service at CHAPEL OF THE HIGHLANDS, 194 Millwood Dr. at El Camino Real in Millbrae.  The Funeral will leave the Chapel on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 9:45 AM and proceed to St. Dunstan Catholic Church, 1133 Broadway in Millbrae where the Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 AM.  Committal will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.


Mr. Ratto has asked that prayers be offered for the repose of his soul and that donations be made in his memory, in lieu of flowers, to or to St. Anthony of Padua Dining Room, 3500 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.



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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 23, 2014
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Chapel of the Highlands
194 Millwood Drive Millbrae, CA 94030
(650) 588-5116
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