Merlin E. "Merle" Ratz, age 80 of Fountain City, WI passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at St. Anne Extended Health Care, Winona, MN. He was born on January 20 ,1938 at home in Eagle Valley, WI to Elmer and Bernice (Engel) Ratz. At birth, he was so tiny that he was placed in a shoebox and kept warm in their oven. Merle attended grade school at the Town of Cross County School and graduated from Cochrane-Fountain City High School in 1955. After graduating, he helped his parents on their dairy farm and enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard.
On September 16, 1961, he married Polly Carpenter at Central Lutheran Church, Winona, MN. Their first year of marriage was spent in Tacoma, Washington while Merle served his country during the Berlin Crisis. In 1962, after returning to Fountain City, he and Polly assumed ownership of the farm and worked side by side until selling the cows in the early 1980's.
With their new found freedom from milking, they travelled all 50 states together, many of their trips being on their Gold Wing Motorcycle. They also visited Germany, Italy and Austria. Together they enjoyed snowmobiling and boating on the Mississippi. Merle loved driving school bus for Cochrane-Fountain City schools and was recently honored for 33 years of accident free driving. He enjoyed the several generations of children that he transported each year. He also drove semi for the Dodge Oil Company for several years.
Merle was a member of St. John's United Church of Christ, Fountain City at the time of his passing.
Merle is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Polly; son, John (Betsy Zeller) and her children, Michaela, William, Shaun and Andrew; grandson, Douglas Ratz; granddaughter, Kelly Ratz; great-granddaughter, Aubrey; great-grandson, Riley Ratz; godson, Kevin Engel; sister and brother-in-law, Harold and Jo An Moham; niece, Christie (Kevin) McConville; nephew, K.W. "Charlie" (Gabriella) Schrieber; aunt, Minerva Ratz and several cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Bernice; father and mother-in-law, Maxwell and Donna Carpenter; grandparents and several aunts and uncles.
A visitation and service will be held at the Hilltop, Fountain City, WI on Sunday, December 23, 2018. The visitation will begin at 11:00 am with a service at 1:00 pm with Pastor Kathy Schuler of the Homer United Methodist Church officiating.