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Buckner mourns “Mr. Camp Buckner” after more than 20 years of service

REPRINTED from the Daily Cities River Tribune

MARBLE FALLS, Texas — Friends and family mourning the unexpected death of “Mr. Camp Buckner,” Jerry Ratliff, remembered him as a devoted community leader.

The 60-year-old home builder apparently died of a heart attack while on a hunting trip near Abilene Dec. 22, friends said.

Jerry was the contractor hired to design and build Camp Buckner. Since he knew it so well, it was a natural fit for him to stay on, Buckner vice president for growth and development Felipe Garza said.

“He had such a calm spirit and he took everything with a positive attitude,” Garza said. “He had a loving nature … He was easy to talk to and a good communicator. If there was ever a problem, he wanted to sit down and talk it out.”

Jerry also owned Ratliff Homes Inc., based in Burnet, which builds single-family homes in the Highland Lakes. His business relationships and knowledgeable of the area proved beneficial to Buckner over the years, Garza said.

“He wanted the best in everything so our kids, their families and everyone who came to Camp Buckner would have the best,” he said. “He also made sure we had the best facilities and the best staff. He always ensured you would get the best quality.”

Jerry is survived by his wife, Tammi, and their three children, Chelsea, Lindsey and Hunter.

Local businesswoman Terry Pilley attended Marble Falls High School with Ratliff during the late 1960s. They served together on the Building Industry Association of the Highland Lakes board during recent years.

“He was always a wonderful person and a straight shooter,” Pilley said. “We are going to miss him.”

Pilley recalled Ratliff helped the association promote Habitat for Humanity, as well as scholarships and several other community projects.

“He was pretty much in charge of BIA giving back to the community,” BIA Executive Director Jayne Mortenson said. “He was respected by everyone. We will miss him greatly.”

His role with Camp Buckner may rank as his greatest personal contribution to the Highland Lakes, Mortenson added.
“Obviously, his employment at Camp Buckner should speak to the idea that he led a life of service,” Mortenson said.

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