William Thomas Ratliff, Jr. (b. January 25, 1925) passed away May 17, 2016. Bill Ratliff grew up in Birmingham, the son of Minnie Vardaman Ratliff, formerly of Jackson, MS, and William Thomas Ratliff of Birmingham.
He attended Glen Iris Elementary and Ramsay High School. He entered Virginia Military Institute and joined the Navy V12 program when he was eligible to enlist. He was commissioned a Lieutenant JG and served in the Pacific, including time in Japan after VJ Day. He completed his college education at Washington and Lee University and returned to Birmingham to join his father at Collateral Investment Company, a then small, local mortgage banking business founded by his father in 1933.
When his father died in 1955, Bill became President of Collateral, a position he held until 1986. During that time, Collateral grew into a nationally known and respected mortgage banking firm. He was also active in industry associations, both locally and nationally. As the family business continued to grow, Bill was involved in every major decision in his capacity as largest shareholder. This growth included the founding and expansion of New South Federal Savings Bank, where he served on the Board of Directors; the purchase of Triad Guaranty Insurance Corp, which was subsequently taken public; the purchase and expansion of Southland National Insurance Company; and, numerous smaller ventures.
Bill was also an engaged and philanthropic member of the Birmingham community. He received the Philanthropist of the Year Award for his extraordinary generosity to nonprofits such as the McWane Center, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Jefferson State School of Nursing, the Salvation Army, United Way, and First Teachers @ Home. He not only supported The Carter Center, but he took many of his family members on the Center's ski trips with President and Mrs. Carter for years. Bill was inspired by Rotary International's remarkable campaign to eradicate polio worldwide and played a very active role in Rotary's efforts to move all nations toward World Peace as a member of the Arch Klumph Society. A lifetime member of Southside Baptist Church, Bill served in virtually every leadership role possible, from Superintendent of Youth Ministries to Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Deacons.
With his wife Shirley, Bill taught Conversational English classes at Southside to new immigrants to the U.S. and always went the extra mile to assist them in making Birmingham their home.
He was very involved in the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and later played a key role in the founding of the New Baptist Covenant. Internationally, he supported My Brother's Brother and World Sports, Inc., which also led him to become deeply involved in ministries serving the poorest of the poor children in India through the Sangita Foundation and Good News Children Education Mission.
For many years, American Saddlebred horses were his principal avocation. Later, he increasingly loved tennis and played every weekday at 6am until less than a year ago. He was also affiliated with The Country Club of Birmingham and The Club.
Bill is survived by his daughters Mary Johnson-Butterworth (Chuck Butterworth), and Amelie Ratliff of Boston, MA; sons Will Ratliff (Carolyn) of Birmingham and Dan Ratliff of Orange Beach, AL; and, son-in-law Carlton Ray of Washington, D.C. Grandchildren include Jay (Ashley), Will (Rachel Hsu), and Wright Johnson, Casey Llewellyn, Tom, Cassie, and Lillie Ratliff, Daniel Ratliff (Jennifer) and Jonathan Ratliff (Brooke), Montana, Amelie, and Whitney Ray and eleven greatgrandchildren: Gunter Johnson, Evans Johnson, Gaines Johnson, Graham Johnson, Adelaide Johnson, Leila Johnson, Daniel Johnson, Jackson Ratliff, Mary Thompson Ratliff, Amadeus Ray Tate, and Yagul Estevez Ray.more » « less