Former Loyola professor, administrator dies at 88

obit_ratchford    Jesuit Father Robert Ratchford, who taught chemistry and was an administrator for many years at Loyola University New Orleans, died March 29 at Ignatius Residence in New Orleans.
    He was 88 and had served as a Jesuit for 64 years and as a priest for 51 years.
    A native of Firesteel, S.D., Father Ratchford attended Indiana University from 1942-43 before joining the Army Air Corps as a B-29 gunnery instructor from 1943-46.
    He entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1948, at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La., and pronounced his first vows on July 31, 1950.
    He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Spring Hill College, a doctorate in chemistry from Catholic University in Washington D.C., and a licentiate of sacred theology from Jesuit College in Innsbruck, Austria.
    He did post-graduate work in solid state electro-chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry and at the Technische Hochschule in West Germany.
    He was ordained a priest on July 26, 1961, at Dreifaltigkeitskirche in Innsbruck and pronounced his final vows on Aug. 15, 1977, at St. Charles College.
Many years at Loyola
    Father Ratchford was assigned to Loyola University from 1964-80, where he taught chemistry before serving in several administrative posts.
    He was director of alumni, acting academic vice president and provost, dean of arts and sciences, and assistant academic vice president.
    He also served on the Jesuits’ New Orleans Province staff as executive assistant and catalog coordinator.
    In 1998, he moved to Ignatius Residence, where he served as an assistant to the superior and the treasurer until shortly before death.
    Aviation was among Father Ratchford’s many interests. He was a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol from 1970-2008. In 1985, he received a commendation for flying an ill 2-year-old child to Philadelphia for special treatment.
    He also served as a chaplain for the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center and as alumni chaplain at Loyola University.
    Father Ratchford was preceded in death by his parents, Frank L. Ratchford and Ambrosia Mary C. Ratchford, and a brother, Lawrence A. Ratchford. He is survived by a brother, William M. Ratchford, and several nieces and nephews.
    A funeral Mass was celebrated April 3 at Holy Name of Jesus Church. Burial followed at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau.
    Donations in memory of Father Ratchford may be made to the Senior Jesuits Fund of “The Jesuits,” 710 Baronne St., Ste. B, New Orleans, La., 70113.
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