Master builder Anthony Ratcliff mourned

by Kenya Ratcliff

Anthony-Ratcliff-240x300, Master builder Anthony Ratcliff mourned, Culture Currents
Anthony Ratcliff

Anthony Ratcliff died on July 23, 2016, after a valiant fight against throat and lung cancer. He was born in Oakland, California, on May 18, 1956, to mother Geneva Cleopatra Draper Ratcliff, a homemaker (now deceased), and father Dr. Willie Ratcliff, a contractor and publisher of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper.

He was raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he began his lifelong career in construction as a laborer, cement finisher and foreman, working on such major projects as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, the Northern Border pipeline in North Dakota, and countless other commercial, residential and infrastructure projects in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Utah, North Dakota and California.

An avid cook, he was also a skilled fisherman and camping enthusiast, music lover and formidable backgammon and pool player. He was a longtime member of the Loyal Order of Moose, an international fraternal and philanthropic organization, and member of several labor unions; he retired after a long association with Stacy & Witbeck, a noted multistate construction and engineering firm.

He is survived by his wife, Denise Ratcliff, son Anthony Ratcliff Jr. of Sacramento, daughter Atya Ratcliff of Oakland, son Antoine Ratcliff of San Francisco, grandson Riley Ratcliff of Sacramento, sisters Kim Grissom of Wasilla, Alaska, Kenya Ratcliff of Sacramento, Linda Pasters of Milpitas and Janet Ratcliff of San Jose and step-sister Julie Nemeth of Los Angeles, brothers Glenn Ratcliff and Lafone Ratcliff of Anchorage, Stanley Ratcliff of Palmer, Alaska, Stacia Ratcliff of Seattle and step-brother Mike Nemeth of Fresno and a host of nephews, nieces and cousins‎.

“Anthony was the best construction worker I ever knew,” says his father. “When he was only 4 years old, he wanted to come out on the job with me, and he never stopped. He would teach everything he learned to his younger siblings.” Anthony was greatly beloved and will be sorely missed.

Liberty-Builders-Anthony-Ratcliff-SFO-seawalls-web-300x195, Master builder Anthony Ratcliff mourned, Culture Currents
Tony Ratcliff worked construction with grace, power and a brilliant mind that constantly sought a better, faster way to build the project. He led by example, setting the fast pace and high standard that the rest of the crew willingly aspired to. Here he’s building seawalls at SFO in 1993 on a Liberty Builders contract.
Anthony-Ratcliff-casting-pipe-weights-North-Dakota-1981-300x295, Master builder Anthony Ratcliff mourned, Culture Currents
In 1981, Tony and several of his siblings traveled to North Dakota when their dad won a contract to build pipe weights for the Northern Border pipeline. The Ratcliffs were the first Blacks to break into pipeline construction, previously all white until they worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.


His homegoing service is Friday, July 29, 1 p.m., at Common Ground Covenant Church, 8355 Arroyo Vista Drive, Sacramento. A reception will follow.

Kenya Ratcliff can be reached via Bay View staff contributed to this obituary.