Posted on: August 26, 2022
Robert Richard Ratcliffe III, MD, of Tryon Estates, Columbus, passed away on Friday, July 8, 2022 at the age of 88. Dr. Ratcliffe was born in Reidsville, NC, on July 27, 1933. He was the son of Robert R. Ratcliffe II and Ruth Porter Ratcliffe. He grew up with his sisters, Judy Ratcliffe Wilson and Joan Ratcliffe Mialik (deceased). He attended the public schools of Rockingham County, NC, and upon graduation from high school attended Bob Jones University for one year before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned a master’s degree in English literature and was recruited by Virginia Military Institute to teach English literature, a position he held for two years while taking pre-med classes at the University of Virginia. He completed his MD degree at the University of Virginia in 1961. He completed his internship and a two-year medical residency at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. He entered private psychiatric practice in Greenville, NC, and also worked with Pitt Memorial Hospital. He worked as a psychiatrist in the Geropsychiatric Unit at Broughton Hospital from 1990-1995. In the fall of 1995, he started a Geropsychiatric Unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus, NC. He was the founding director of this unit, and he served in that position until his retirement. During his retirement, he founded and worked part time as a psychiatrist at Rutherford Psychiatric Associates in Forest City, NC.
Dr. Ratcliffe is the father of three children and has one stepson. In September, 1960, he married Cynthia Thompson of Durham, NC and two children were born from this marriage: Robert IV in 1961 (deceased), and Armour in 1964. His wife, Cynthia passed away in 1981 due to cancer. He then married Nancy Morgan Wichard of Edenton, NC. One child, Andrew Morgan Ratcliffe, was born in 1986. Nancy died of cancer in 1997. His last marriage was on January 1, 2000, to Judy Hartman Cook of Hendersonville. Bob and Judy parented Andrew until he reached adulthood.
Bob served his country during the Korean War; and after completing his medical training, he served as a medical officer in the NC Reserves. He left the military with the rank of captain. He was proud of his military service and sometimes remarked that he had left the US Army with two honorable discharges.
He was a caring physician who worked diligently to improve the health of his many patients. An avid reader, he was rarely found without books, magazines, or his favorite reference books. He amassed an extensive library to which he continuously added. He was a relentless collector of antique furniture and antique toys. He loved music of all genres. He was a great lover of animals and frequently added a homeless cat or dog to his unique menagerie of adopted pets. His favorite pastime was sailing, and his most memorable adventure was sailing with all of his children and their spouses in the Greek Islands in 2013. This trip was especially meaningful to Bob because it was the last sailing adventure he shared with his son Robert who succumbed to cancer shortly thereafter.
His many friends were always a source of happiness for Bob. He loved nothing more than a gathering of his friends and their spouses for picnics in his tree house. He insisted that building the tree house must not harm the tree; and the builder constructed the tree house in such a way that only two screws entered the tree itself.