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John  Ratterman
Born November 13, 1931
Passed Away
 September 17, 2017


Date: 9/29/2017

Time: 5:20:36 PM


We at Island Theatre are so grateful to John for his enthusiastic support - both as an audience member and as a playwright. We were delighted to include his work in our annual Ten-Minute Play Festival. He will be sorely missed.


Kathleen Thorne on behalf of Island Theatre
City: Bainbridge Island
State: WA
Country: USA

Date: 9/25/2017

Time: 4:43:54 PM


John was a lifelong friend of my dad’s and a friend of mine for at least a dozen years. My dad, C.W. Gusewelle and John knew each other from their early days at the Kansas City Star. Though John lived out West for much of his life, he came back to Missouri nearly every April for the better part of 30 years to hunt wild turkeys in the Ozark woods with dad and a small group of their friends—Bill and Luke Wilson, Darrell Danes and his sons, Leo and Todd Warner, Sonny Selectman, Patrick Dolan, Ed Long, and others through the years.

I met John on a trip home to Missouri from NY. My sister and I went down to join the camp and to pick morel mushrooms. I liked John immediately. It didn’t hurt that he was the camp chef—and a fine one at that! (He later produced a cookbook of camp recipes, which he distributed to all of the turkey hunters).

John was a delight to be with in the woods. He was almost a part of the woods himself. I always enjoyed fishing with dad and John. Lively conversation and joking followed by long stretches of simply birdsong and toads and squirrels.

The ostensible purpose of the April meetings was hunting, but it was really about friendship. I was lucky enough to become a member of the group and I returned at least 7 or 8 years to film the annual gatherings.

One special evening we took turns reading from John’s epic poem “Big Daddy.” Big Daddy was a legendary wild turkey with a beard so long it dragged the ground. We all knew about Big Daddy, and speculated on his whereabouts every year, but it was John who put the legend to verse. I feel lucky to have a copy of “Big Daddy” in the bookshelf beside me.

Other things I remember about John. He was an early riser, a lover of malts… he fished with an antique fishing rod that in his capable hands worked like a dream… I remember John and dad sitting by the pot-bellied stove and sharing stories.

I am so grateful for those memories. Dad died last November. I like to imagine that somewhere, somehow they continue to spin stories.

My love and condolences to John’s friends and family.

Jennie Gusewelle


Jennie Gusewelle
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA

Date: 9/22/2017

Time: 2:13:05 PM


Fond memories of a dear friend

I first met John when I was a baby reporter on the Columbia Daily Tribune while attending the University of Missouri.
John at that time was a $300-a-month reporter on the Kansas City Star.
We met through a mutual friend, the late Gene Ayres, who also worked at the Star for a time. Gene was one of my dearest friends, a fraternity brother and a college roommate.
John and I could never quite agree on the year we met. I thought it was 1953. He thought 1954.
Whichever it was, I was honored and delighted to be his friend for more than 60 years. He was one of the kindest, most generous men I ever met.
We kept in touch over the years, and in 1962 when I lived in Denver, we hunted elk together in Colorado’s Flat Tops Primitive Area. (The elk came to no harm).
It was Ayres who got John and I together again a number of years later, when we began making annual fly-fishing trips to Idaho. We camped on the North Fork of the Clearwater River and fished mostly the North Fork and its tributary, Kelly Creek, though we also annoyed the fish in several smaller creeks.
John called the North Fork, which runs through some spectacular country, “the best river in America.”
We were always grateful for John’s presence, because he was so adept at setting up camp. He had a big banner made bearing the legend “The NF & KC Angle Fysshynge Club” and the Latin motto “Piscari Pro Nobis” (Fish For Us) that he always hung at our campsites.
When it rained and a big puddle formed around our picnic table, we christened it Lake Ratterman.
On these annual trips we used to score one another on falls. Fly fishermen do a lot of standing and walking in heavy river currents, and losing their footing sometimes results in spectacular falls. We scored with the same kind of decimal system used in Olympic gymnastics — 6.7, 7.4 and the like.
John accomplished what I believe was the highest score ever recorded, losing his balance in really strong current and doing three complete revolutions under water before regaining his feet. I wanted to give him a 10, but as I recall his final score was 9.8.
His score as a friend has been, is, and will always be, a perfect 10. God bless him.

Dick Thomas


Dick Thomas
City: Beaverton
State: OR
Country: USA