The Rev. Paul Wilmer Ratzlaff died on February 28, 2016 at the age of 70.
Paul was born on July 24, 1945 to Leslie and Nina Ratzlaff in Kingston, Jamaica. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Warner Pacific College in 1966; a Master of Arts from Colgate University in 1968; and a Certificate from the Stevens Gesner Project to Train Men and Women for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry in 1973.
Rev. Ratzlaff was ordained by the Unitarian Society of New Brunswick, NJ in 1974, and ministered with the congregation for the next six years. In 1980, he was called to the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, where he served for over twenty years, until 2002. He went on to serve a year of Interim Ministry with the South Nassau UU Congregation of Freeport, NY, and was subsequently called to the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY, where he served as settled minister for eight years until his retirement in 2012.
Rev. Ratzlaff was very active within the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Metro New York District, and served as chairperson of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association’s Continuing Education, Network, Training, Enrichment and Renewal (C.E.N.T.E.R.) committee. He co-founded the New Jersey Unitarian Universalist Ministers Council, and served as President of the council.
Within the community, Paul held membership with the Executive Board of the League of Women Voters; the East Brunswick Area Clergy Council; and the Morris Area Clergy Council. Additionally, he served an interfaith, interracial organization dedicated to building affordable housing in the Morristown area. While ministering in Long Island, he continued his work in social justice in many areas, including LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, affordable housing, workers’ rights, and promoting understanding and caring among all people.
Of her father, Hannah Ratzlaff writes:
He dedicated his life to social justice and caring for others. He was an incredibly generous and loving person who devoted himself to his family and truly taught me the value of hard work and commitment. He had an amazing balance of kindness, wit, and empathy which allowed him to see many sides of an issue, often acting as the voice of reason for me.
Paul is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Hannah (Cory) and Ian (Louise); granddaughter, Giuliana; brother, Dale (Marcy); father in law, Hy; Aunt, Evajoy; Uncle, Sydney; Stepmother, Grace, and many other beloved family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to New York Memory Center or to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
Notes of condolences may be sent to Barbara Ratzlaff, 557 Atlantic Avenue Apt 2 D-S Brooklyn NY 11217.