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Mary Margaret Ratje

October 1, 1925 - May 6, 2023

Service Date May 10, 2023

Church Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at 2:00 p.m., at Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home.  Visitation will start one hour prior to services.  Burial at Custer Cemetery will follow services.


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Mary Margaret Riley Ratje, 97, of Custer, passed away on May 6th, 2023, in Rapid City.

Mary was born in Custer, South Dakota to James Patrick Riley and Pearle (Fisher) Riley on October 1st, 1925. At a young age she attended Luzon; a one-room country school where she was the only girl of 6 total students. She graduated from Custer High School in 1943. Then she continued her education at Black Hills Teachers College in Spearfish. Subsequently, she started her career working for Extension Service, then transferred to Farmers Home Administration, there 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. 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. 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 is survived by her stepchildren Mr. and Mrs. John Ratje (Margaret) of Safford Arizona, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Ratje (Mary Helen) of Mesilla New Mexico, 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. Mary is preceded in death by her only brother James Malden Riley when she was 11, her father James Patrick Riley when she was 21, her mother Pearle (Riley) Wright, and stepfather Arthur Wright. Special Friends include Donnie Morgan (Dr. Sharon Seneczko), Wanda Kelly, Tami Harmon, Mackenzie Olson and sons (Aiden & Myles), Carlie and Maci Erickson, Pete Fleming and family.


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