Frances Jean Ratcliff

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Miss Frances Jean Ratcliff, age 90, a resident of Ridgewood Manor Nursing Center died Saturday, November 17, 2012.

A graveside funeral service will be held 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at Pamlico Memorial Gardens officiated by Rev. Cris Noble.

The family will receive friends on Tuesday, November 20, 2012, from 7:00,p.m.-8:30,p.m. at Paul Funeral Home & Crematory of Washington.

Frances was born in Washington on November 12, 1922; she was the youngest child of Zeno O. Ratcliff, Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Spruill Ratcliff. Miss Frances grew up in the Terra Ceia community of Beaufort County. She began working in her parents general store at an early age. In order to keep the store flourishing, during the depression, her parents often had to accept unconventional payment such as ducks and chickens. Frances took on the job of raising birds for sale to generate income for the store. Her mother and father also operated a farm which at that time raised flowers in addition to conventional row crops. During World War II, when the labor was scarce, Frances took an active role working in the field, in the flower operation.

After graduation from Pantego High School, Frances attended Flora McDonald College for a year before transferring to East Carolina Teachers College where she graduated. She worked several years as a teacher in New York at the Bethlehem Day Nursery, which she greatly enjoyed. Her stay in New York expanded her horizons and knowledge of the world greatly. She used this experience to enrich the lives of her family at every opportunity.

Frances decided to give up her career in New York to come back to Terra Ceia to assist in the store and farming operation with her parents and brother, which later became Zeno O. Ratcliff, Inc. She was actively involved with the business as secretary/treasurer well into her eighties.

In addition to her active business career, Frances was very prominent in the Republican party. She was active at the local and state level, serving as county chairwoman of the Republican party, as well as being campaign manager for a number of successful state and presidential elections. Perhaps her greatest contribution to the Republican party was at the local grassroots level where she helped lay the organizational foundation to make the party an effective political organization which could win elections. Her political efforts were recognized by being chosen the outstanding Republican Woman in 1997 and by being inducted into the Republican Party Hall of Fame in 2000.

Frances also served her local community and state in other ways as well. She was the first woman to be elected president of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation which provides support to the North Carolina State University School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Gov. James Holshouser, Jr. appointed Frances to the North Carolina Rural Rehabilitation Corporation in 1976. Local organizations that she served on include the Historic Bath Commission and the Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees.

Frances is survived by a sister-in-law, Marjorie T. Ratcliff of Pantego, NC, a nephew, Zeno O. Ratcliff, III of Washington, NC and a niece, Cynthia J. Ratcliff of Atlanta, Ga.

In addition to her parents, Miss Ratcliff is preceded in death by a brother, Zeno O. Ratcliff, Jr.

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Paul Funeral Home & Crematory of Washington is honored to serve the Ratcliff family.