Born on November 22, 1935, in El Dorado, Arkansas, she was the daughter of James C. deYampert and Mattie R. Robinson deYampert. Betty Jo was a lifetime member of the United Methodist Church. Raised in Smackover, she graduated from Smackover Arkansas High School and pursued her teaching degree at Louisiana Tech University. While there she was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority and the Blue Jacket girl’s drill team.
Mrs. Ratcliff loved teaching, and devoted her professional life to public education. Prior to raising a family, she taught in public schools in Denver, CO, Manvel, TX, and Borger, TX. While her sons were in preschool in Cortez, CO, Betty Jo started a weekly gathering at her home for the neighborhood children to learn and have fun. She called it Playday. She resumed her teaching career in Casper, WY and finally retired after teaching 15 years at El Dorado High School.
Betty Jo met Herman Ratcliff in June 1957 in Smackover after both graduated from Louisiana Tech. Betty Jo was spending the summer with her parents before moving to Denver for her first teaching assignment. Herman was on an engineering training program with Phillips Petroleum and lived in the house behind the deYamperts. Their first meeting was across the fence and alley—how romantic. Before leaving for her teaching assignment in Denver, Betty Jo and Herman were engaged. After she returned from teaching, the two were married on June 15, 1958.
Betty Jo and Herman returned to South Arkansas in 1978, and settled in El Dorado. After retiring from teaching at EHS, she read weekly to Mrs. Laura’s First United Methodist Kindergarten class. She also taught the Mary Martha Sunday School Class and also the Women’s Circle No. 1. Years after leaving the classroom, former students often stopped Mrs. Ratcliff in town to say thanks and tell her how much they learned from her even though they did not realize it at the time.
Mrs. Ratcliff was very proud of her selection to the XI Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teaching society, for which she served as its president for one year. She is remembered for her perpetual smile, deck and backyard flowers, potato salad and German Chocolate Cake. Most of all she was known for her love of God, family and friends. She enjoyed riverboat cruises in the U.S. and small ship cruises along the Atlantic coast.
She is survived by her husband, Herman I. Ratcliff, Jr., 2 sons -Brian H. Ratcliff (Karen) of El Dorado and Bennet C. Ratcliff of Bearsville, NY; 3 grandchildren – Ava, Beckett and Serena, also of Bearsville; 3 cousins – Gary deYampert (Vickie) of Smackover, AR, Frank Robinson (Deena) of Strong, AR and Charlotte Robinson Mills of Crossett, AR. An infant son, Jay Murray Ratcliff, preceded her in death.
The family wishes to express their deepest sincere appreciation to the staff of Courtyard Health and Rehab and the loving Nurses and CNAs there. And last, but not least, to Life Touch Hospice Care and to her Doctors – James Seale, Gary Bevill, James Sheppard and Eric Hatley.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, September 21 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Young’s Funeral Directors, 508
Champagnolle Road, El Dorado, AR.
A Celebration of Life will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, September 22 at First United Methodist Church, El Dorado with Rev. Keith Dodson officiating.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 201 S. Hill Ave., El Dorado, AR 71730.
An online guest registry will be available at – Young’s Funeral Directors