Monday, October 3, 2016

Vernon Ratkovich of Angels Camp

   Few people go through life being recognized for such simple things as driving down the road in a milk truck or riding a bicycle through town,
but then few people were like Vernon Ratkovich.

   Vernon was a homegrown son of Angels Camp  who left an impact on many. Ask
any long time local who the milkman was or who the unofficial historian of town was and the answer was always the same: Vern.

   Vernon passed away at home on September 27, 2016 at the age of 81.  He was the oldest son of Nicola and Mileva Ratkovich.

   Nick immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia when he was 16 and made his way to Angels Camp to work in the local gold mines.

   Mileva was the oldest daughter of 9 children of Peter and Mary Vasilovich of neighboring Jackson.

   Vern was their only son but was joined by sister Marlene Ratkovich Deinero a few years later. 

    The large Vasilovich family in Jackson was an important part of Vern's life. There were many years of holiday festivities together along with Sunday picnics.

   Vernon's uncles were like the big brothers he never had.  They took him fishing, and he was raised right alongside them.

   In high school Vern played football for Bret Harte and later went on to play for Stockton College after graduating in 1955.

   Football was always a great love of Vern's and he always injoyed watching games, whether it be high school, college or professional.

   He enlisted in the Army in July 1958 and was stationed with the 7th Infantry in Korea during peacetime.

   After his honorary discharge on June 30, 1964 he began his longtime profession f being the local milkman.

   It was a job he loved and was know for, for over 20 years.  He was the real milkman who delivered milk in glass bottles to homes and businesses all over Calaveras County.

   Many old time locals remember him driving through town in a big truck filled with dairy products.

   The Ratkovich house was a favorite hangout for all the neighborhood children because the freezer was always full of ice cream.

   Favorite stories include raids of  the freezer and his youngest son freezing his tongue to the inside of the freezer truck. Twice.

   A few times he unknowingly delivered empty whipped cream bottles after two boys he knew rode the route inside the dairy truck.

   Vernon married Myrna Hedge Ratkovich on September 24, 1966.  Vern's cousin Charlotte Ratkovich Earle of the Bay Area had introduced Vern to her friend whom she met in college.

   Myrna had been raided in Martinez and loved the atmosphere of Angels Camp, so the couple decided this was the place to stay and raise of family of their own.

   Peter was born in 1968 and Robert followed two years later in 1970.

   Vern retired from the milk business and later worked for Bret Harte Union High School District as a custodian.

   Myrna a Vern became grandparents in February 1999 with the birth of Nicholas, son of Peter and his wife, Melissa.

   When Melissa went back to teaching that fall, Vern added a seond job of taking care of Nicholas 4-5 days a month. Frandson Nathaniel followed in December 2000. His grandsons were a wonderful joy in his life.

   Myrna and Vern were married 35 years before her passing in April 2001.  It was a time of great sorrow for a man who was suddenly alone for the first time in many years.

  Vern officially retired again in the fall of 2001 from BHUHSD and then worked part time for 49er Subaru as a driver.  That job kept him busy meeting people as he drove cars and people all over Northern California.

   Over time Vern became the person to answer history questions or information about past people and events.

   He seemed to know everyone or had a photo stashed in a cabinet that someone needed a copy of or explanation about.

   Only recently during conversations in the local coffee house did people start to realize that Vern's plethora of information should have been recorded.

  Vern had another love and that was good food. Whenever anyone traveled, Vern was always interested in where they went and what they ate.

   It was a running joke because everyone knew that e's want details of the best restaurants visited and menus perused.

  Whenever anyone had an ache, pain, cold or flue, Vern had the cure. "Rub some Vicks on it!"

   In Spring 2008 Vernon met Geneva Colvin, who had moved to Angels Camp to be closer to her own family. Vern found new happiness and they traveled, ate great food and made a life together.

   Vern and Geneva were married in January 2015.

   A recent highlight for Vern was attending his son Robert's wedding to Casey Overmier this past May.  He very much enjoyed spending time with his new daughter-in-law and her family.

   Vernon is survived by son Peter and Melissa Ratkovich of San Andreas and his grandsons Nicholas and Nathaniel, son Robert and Casey Ratkovich of Copperopolis, wife Geneva Ratkovich, niece Deanna Smith and her husband Vernon of Sonora; great nephews wyatt and Colton Smith and niece Jennifer Deinero of Sonora.

   Vernon was preceded in death by his sister Marlene Deinero of Sonora.

   Funeral Services will be held Saturday October 8, 2016 at 10 AM at St. Vasilije Serbian Orthodox Church in Angels Camp.  Interment will be at the Altaville Protestant Cemetery.

 In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Hospice of the Sierra in memory of Vernon Ratkovich.


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