Mary Ratje

Mary Margaret Riley Ratje was born in Custer, S.D., to James Patrick Riley and Pearle (Fisher) Riley Oct. 1, 1925.
At a young age she attended Luzon; a one-room country school where she was the only girl of six total students. She graduated from Custer High School in 1943, then she continued her education at Black Hills Teachers College in Spearfish, S.D.
Subsequently, she started her career working for Extension Service, then transferred to Farmers Home Administration, where she served eight years as office manager to the agricultural stabilization committee—all in Custer County.
In April of 1956 she moved to New Mexico and began to work in the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs as an administrative assistant.  She proudly retired after 33 years of government service in 1980.
During her time with the government she received many outstanding awards and spent a month on a detail in Washington, D.C. She was honored by leading the Custer Gold Discovery Day Parade on a gold horse in 1951.
Mary played a role in business and professional clubs both in South Dakota and New Mexico, such as president of the Black Hills District and a state membership chairman of New Mexico. She served as president of the Gallup Area Office Employees Association.
Mary started big game hunting with her father at an early age. She then continued throughout her life hunting in New Mexico, Kaibab Forest, Vamejo Park Ranch, on the Jicarilla Reservation, as well in the Black Hills until she was about 80 years old.
She was fortunate to have traveled quite extensively. Some of her travels included visiting all 50 states by car, fishing in Canada, two tours of Europe, several trips to Mexico, helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon, snowmobiling in Yellowstone and hot air balloon rides over the Red Rocks in New Mexico.
Mary loved playing cards and was a poker champion at the Canyon Lake activity Center in Rapid City, S.D. She also loved baking for her neighbors and friends and getting to church on Sundays. Most of all she loved God from the time she could remember, never being afraid and trusting Him completely and awaited the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Mary, of Custer, passed away May 6, 2023, in Rapid City. She was 97.
She is preceded in death by her only brother, James Malden Riley, when she was 11; father, James Patrick Riley, when she was 21; mother, Pearle (Riley) Wright; stepfather, Arthur Wright.
Mary is survived by her stepchildren, Mr. and Mrs. John Ratje (Margaret) of Safford Ariz., Mr. and Mrs. Jim Ratje (Mary Helen) of Mesilla, N.M., Mr. and Mrs. Tim Kelly (Jenny) of Richardson, Texas, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wolf (Marcia) of Plano, Texas, and Mary Kay Powell of Richardson Texas.
Special Friends include Donnie Morgan, Dr. Sharon Seneczko, Wanda Kelly, Tami Harmon, Mackenzie Olson and sons (Aiden and Myles), Carlie and Maci Erickson, Pete Fleming and family.
Arrangements were handled by Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home and services were held recently.


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