Remembering The Ratliffs

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, July 31, 2011

Family members say the Exchange Club Parkpavilion was a second home to Charles “Ploochie” and VirginiaRatliff, and now that second home is dedicated to their memory.

    The club unveiled a marble plaque commemorating the Ratliffs in aceremony Friday night that marked the opening of this year’sfair.

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    “They would be so pleased,” said Susie Ratliff, the Ratliffs’daughter. “There is not a better way to remember them. This iswhere they would want to be remembered.”

    Exchange Club President Stan Foster described Charles Ratliff’slong service to the club during the ceremony. Ratliff was a chartermember of the club, founded in 1947, and served 43 consecutiveyears as the club’s secretary.

    Susie Ratliff remembers the dedication her parents displayed towardthe annual Exchange Club Fair.

    “When I was very young, Dad ran the kiddie rides,” she said. “Iwould fall asleep in the back of our station wagon everynight.”

    Later, when she was older, her parents began operating the fair’sBingo games and continued to do so for 37 years.

    That ended, though, in February of 2008 when Virginia disappeared.She left Brookhaven in her car to visit Charles in a hospital inJackson but disappeared before she arrived.

    Charles kept the couple’s commitment to the fair alive andcontinued to call the Bingo games. He died in 2010 and Virginia’sremains were discovered February of this year near the intersectionof Highway 28 and Highway 33, where she apparently ran off theroad.

    Charles and Virginia Ratliff will always be remembered together,though. Family and friends admired the plaque Friday, whichfeatures an etching of the couple embracing, and recalled differentexperiences when Charles and Virginia were alive.

    During the year, even when the fair was not going on, Susie Ratliffsaid that her parents still liked to check in on the park and,particularly, the pavilion.

    Since he was the club secretary, Charles was in charge of pavilionrentals. Susie Ratliff said he always wanted to make sure renterscleaned the pavilion and took care of it as they were supposedto.

    “They took ownership of it,” she said.