Ratcliffe, Betsy Forster

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Betsy Forster Ratcliffe entered into eternal rest on September 18, 2017. She was born in Pocahontas, VA, the daughter of Ida Castagnoli Forster and William Grieve Forster. Her formative years were spent in the coal fields of southwestern Virginia.

As a young girl, she excelled in dance and academics, becoming salutatorian of her high school class. From high school she went on to attend two years at the distinguished finishing school , Ward Belmont College in Nashville, TN. She then continued her education at the College of William & Mary, earning a B.S. degree in biology and chemistry.

Upon graduation she settled in Pulaski, VA where she met her future husband, Montie Thomas Ratcliffe. It was there that their 67-year love story began and they had their first daughter, Denise Ratcliffe Schneider. Montie attended college at Virginia Tech while Betsy began a long and successful teaching career. During these six years in Virginia, she taught a wide range of subjects at all grade levels – elementary, middle, and high school. Though small in stature, she was a woman of considerable accomplishments both personally and professionally, a true southern lady. Her involvement in the community was exemplified by her membership in the charter chapter of the mother-daughter organization, National Charity League.

Upon Montie’s graduation they moved across country to Long Beach, CA. After two years they were transferred south to Charlotte, NC. In Charlotte, their second daughter, Debbie Ratcliffe Zeitz was born. They remained in Charlotte for nine years where Betsy was a stay at home mother. Then they made their second move to California, to the Westwood area in Los Angeles. It was in L.A. that she returned to her career in education. She began teaching elementary school in the inner city of L.A. where she laid a path for disadvantaged students to pursue higher education – leading them to some of the finest private, college preparatory schools in the state. Because of her commitment to learning she made continual improvements to her academic credentials by enrolling in UCLA. She received many accolades in L.A. and became well-known in the teaching community. The award that she was the most proud of was Teacher of the Year for her school.

After 24 years, Betsy closed the door on teaching when Montie was transferred to NASA in Houston, where their daughter, Denise, and her family lived. During this time they purchased a summer home in the town of Blowing Rock in the mountains of North Carolina. Living in Blowing Rock was one of the highlights of their lives. They enjoyed golfing, friends, the weather, and the beauty of the familiar Blue Ridge Mountains. In time, they made Blowing Rock their permanent home and a favorite family gathering place. Four years ago, they made the move to Longhorn Village in Austin to be closer to their daughters.

Betsy was a style-innovator and a lover of fashion. She had a flare for home design. She loved to shop and had a large appetite, especially for Italian food. She loved all kinds of dancing from jitter-bugging to waltzing. She was a beautiful seamstress and created exquisite design for her girls. Betsy strived for excellence in all of her endeavors and had an unwavering love for her husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Betsy has touched our lives in ways that will never be forgotten. We will hold her memory dear and her legacy will live on through her family.

She is preceded in death by her brother, William Grieve Forster, her sister-in-law, Nancy Stephens Forster, and her nephew, William Stephens Forster. She is survived by her husband, Montie Thomas Ratcliffe of Austin, her daughter, Denise Ratcliffe Schneider (Craig Schneider), her grandson, Stephen Ratcliffe Schneider (Jessica Roy Schneider), her great grandson, Dylan McKinley Schneider, her great granddaughter Madeline Dianna Schneider, her granddaughter Susan Louise Schneider, all of Houston, her daughter, Debbie Ratcliffe Zeitz (David Zeitz), her grandson, William Forster Zeitz, her granddaughter, Erica Lynn Zeitz, all of Austin, her niece, Cathy Forster James (Robert James) of Lexington VA, her niece, Heather Finney (Steve Finney), her niece, Shea Finney, her nephew, Aidan Finney, her nephew, Robert James (Christine James), her nephew, Liam James, and her nephew, Logan James, all of Washington D.C.

Her memorial services was held at Queen of Angels Chapel on Saturday September 23, 2017 at 2:00pm with a reception to follow in the foyer. The church is located at 20600 Siesta Shores Drive, Spicewood, TX 78669.

Graveside services will be held Saturday July 23, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. in Oakwood Cemetery in Pulaski, VA.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Betsy through memorial donations to the Raymond F. Ratcliffe Transportation Museum, www.theratcliffemuseum.com (or mail check to P.O Box 269 Pulaski, VA) or Catholic Charities of Central Texas, www.ccctx.org.