Robert Harold Ratcliffe (Age 76)
Died of complications from cancer at his home in Bethesda on September 10, 2021. Bob was a beloved, caring, brilliant man with an outstanding sense of humor. He is deeply missed by his loving family and friends, all of whom had come to rely on his wisdom, advice, companionship and laughter through the years. Bob was born on May 26, 1945, in Jackson, Mississippi. He spent his early childhood in Ankara, Turkey; Charlottesville, Virginia; and other places before his family settled in Bethesda in 1957. Bob attended Landon School, where he made life-long friends, and went on to receive degrees from Trinity College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. In 1968, he enlisted as an officer in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps and served in Vietnam and Germany, where he met Michelle. They married in 1971, several months before Bob was discharged. After the Army, Bob enrolled in law school at Boston University and started work as a lawyer with the Federal Communications Commission in Washington in 1975. His sons, Michael and John, were born in 1977 and 1980. In 1982, the family moved to a home in Bethesda that Bob spent years skillfully improving and maintaining. In 2014, he retired from the FCC as a distinguished member of the Senior Executive Service. A lawyer by profession, Bob also had a vast knowledge of carpentry, electronics, cars, and, as far as family and friends could tell, nearly everything else. Computers, amateur radio, movies, cribbage, photography, and, most recently, his electric car were favorite hobbies. Most of all, he loved spending time with family and friends, telling stories, sharing meals, and, especially, laughing. Survivors include Michelle M. Ratcliffe, his wife of 50 years; sons Michael L. Ratcliffe (of Bethesda) and John K. Ratcliffe (of New York); cousins Anna Smith, Vincent DiFabio, Janet Coren, Yolanda Copley, Christopher Chancellor, and their families; and many wonderful friends and neighbors. A memorial service will be held at Joseph Gawler's Sons on October 9. Those wishing to make a remembrance are requested to make a donation to Doctors Without Borders
, one of Bob's favorite charities, in lieu of flowers.
Published by The Washington Post on Sep. 26, 2021.