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Longtime VHS concessions manager, school volunteer Ratliff to be honored

September 13th, 2015 5:00 pm by Jeff Bobo

Longtime VHS concessions manager, school volunteer Ratliff to be honored

On Sept. 3 the Hawkins County BOE agreed to rename Volunteer H.S.'s gym concession stand in honor of Ron Ratliff, shown here with his wife Lynn and grandkids. Ratliff volunteered in schools 30 years, including 25 at VHS. (contributed photo)

CHURCH HILL — Ron Ratliff spent his life in the Volunteer State, as a Volunteer High School parent where he epitomized the word “volunteer.”

Ratliff volunteered at schools in the Church Hill community for 30 years, including 25 years at Volunteer High School where he continued to manage the gymnasium concession stand and organize fundraising tournaments for decades after his children had graduated.

Even after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year Ratliff continued volunteering, and had planned on taking his regular place behind the concession stand counter this school year as well.

Ratliff succumbed to cancer this past August at the age of 64, but thanks to his children, and a decision made earlier this month by the Hawkins County Board of Education, Ratliff’s contributions to Volunteer High School and other local schools won’t be forgotten.

During the Sept. 3 BOE meeting, which was held at Volunteer High School, Ratliff’s children Shane Ratliff and Tara Bartlett requested that the VHS gym concession stand be renamed and dedicated in Ratliff’s honor.

The board voted unanimously to approve that request.

“In recognition of more than 30 years of volunteer service by Ron Ratliff to the Hawkins County School System, including 25 years at Volunteer High School, we are asking the board to consider naming the Volunteer High School concession stand in his memory,” Shane Ratliff told the board. “We would like to place a plaque outside the concession stand. We would like to have a dedication ceremony at a Volunteer home basketball game, where his wife, our mother, Lynn, could accept the plaque.”

BOE chairman Chris Christian, who was a neighbor of Ratliff, told the Times-News Saturday he is very deserving of the honor.

“Ron was always very concerned about the well-being of the students, and very proud to be a member of the Falcon family, as far as supporting anything that went on in the gymnasium,” Christian said. “It was his personal goal to keep the concession stand spotless and provide the best service possible. By doing that he felt like he was supporting the students at Volunteer.”

Ratliff began volunteering when his daughter and son attended Church Hill Elementary School.

There he was a PTA vice president, and president for several years, and also painted the play structures, got seats for the teachers lounge, and organized the fall festivals and various fundraisers such as spaghetti suppers.

He even made and hung a sign on each classroom door engraved with the teacher’s name and room number.

At Church Hill Middle School Ratliff organized basketball tournaments for many years to raise money for the school, and he ran the basketball concession stand.

He also helped paint the CHMS football stadium, and Lynn Ratliff painted the school sign that hung for many years across Main Boulevard from City Hall.

“At Volunteer High School, Ron took much pride in working and managing the volleyball and basketball concession stand,” Shane Ratliff said. “Every game he made sure that it was equipped and ready to run smoothly. Each year Ron would have students who would help in the concession stand. He loved being a role model, teacher, and a friend to them. Most of the students would work consecutive years for him.”

Shane Ratliff added, “He supported all sports at Volunteer. During football season he worked the pass gate, and occasionally worked the baseball and softball gates as well.”

Shane Ratliff said he hopes his father’s legacy will inspire others to volunteer.

“For some it is just a place to buy a drink, a candy bar, a slice of pizza, or the best popcorn around,” he said. “But for Ron, our dad, it was his passion and a reason to keep fighting for his life.”

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