Elmer (Sonny) Ratcliff


(Nov. 24, 2008)

Elmer (Sonny) Ratcliff, 76, died Monday, Nov. 24 at his Powell home, surrounded by family.

The Texas native had been a resident of Powell since 1973, affiliated for many years in oilfield manufacturing and cattle industries.

He was born March 13, 1932, in Liberty, Texas, to Elmer Ratcliff and Alice (Tanner) Ratcliff. He graduated from Liberty High School in 1950.

He married Delilah May Stearns July 15, 1952, in Liberty, Texas. Sonny served in the Army in a radar unit and anti-aircraft battalion.

Upon his discharge from the military in 1955, he returned to his Texas roots to begin a lifelong affiliation with the oilfield service. In 1962, the family moved to Billings where he was vice president of Continental Laboratories, Inc., developing several mudlogging instruments. The family lived in Billings and Shepherd, Mont.

In 1973, they moved to Powell where he became manager for construction and operation of Cattle, Inc.  He also bought a farm two and a half miles west of Powell and started his own machine shop, Ratcliff Machine, designing and manufacturing equipment for mudlogging companies worldwide. His son, Russ, and grandson, Dusty, joined in the family business. In addition, they repaired equipment for several area farmers.

He was a member of the New Hope Southern Baptist Church, the National Rifle Association and the NWC Welding Department. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, horseback riding and singing.

Survivors include his wife, Dee; son, Russ Ratcliff (Tammy) of Powell; daughter, Sandy Ratcliff Griffin of Powell; grandchildren, Mandy (Mike) Schneider of 29 Palms Calif., Josh (Amber) Ratcliff of Akron, Ohio, Dusty (Shelly) Ratcliff of Powell, Jeanee (Kevin) O’Mara of Powell and Amanda (Daniel) Gonzales of Powell; and eight great-grandchildren, Cambria Schneider, Ashton Ratcliff, Zachery Ratcliff, Mckenzie Ratcliff, Riley Beckett, Sydney O’Mara, Olivia Griffin and Kai Gonzales.

He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters, one brother, and one great-grandchild, Dustin Caden Ratcliff.

Funeral services will be Monday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church, with the Rev. Darwin Payton, area missionary for Montana Southern Baptist Convention, officiating. Burial will be in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Pallbearers include Robert Beasley, Josh Ratcliff, Dusty Ratcliff, Michael Schneider, Daniel Gonzales and Kevin O’Mara. Honorary pallbearers are Karl Bear, Lloyd Sullivan, Lee Stearns, Dick Stearns, Roland Munoz, Jim Bellin and Bill Powell.

For those who wish, memorials to the American Cancer Society or the Gideon Bibles would be appreciated by the family.

Visitation will be Sunday, Nov. 30 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Thompson Funeral Home.