The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


November 10, 2013

BAF is new home for Ratcliffe Scholarship Fund

Assets held in the Edwin and Lanier File Ratcliffe Memorial Scholarship Fund have been moved from the Mountain State University Foundation to the Beckley Area Foundation.

Income from this permanent endowment will continue to help local students pursue post-high school education.

An annual need-based scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior of any public high school located in Raleigh County and attending any accredited college, university or technical school. Recipients must have earned a GPA of 3.25 or better, excelled in math and/or science in high school and expressed an interest in majoring in either math or science.

The scholarship will not be renewable.

Lanier File Ratcliffe, the daughter of William H. and Addie Lanier File, was born June 19, 1913, in Beckley. Her siblings were Ann Louise File, William H. File Jr., and Elizabeth File (Reed). She graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1929, and from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, Va., in 1934 with a degree in chemistry.

Following her graduation she returned to Beckley and began her career teaching math in the Raleigh County school system, mostly at Woodrow Wilson High School.

She married Edwin Ratcliffe in 1943. They had three children, Ann, Mary Claire and Edwin.

In 1961 and 1965, she received grants from the National Science Foundation for advanced math studies at Purdue and Drew universities. She not only taught “new math” to her own high school classes, but she also taught the new approaches to other teachers in the county.

In the early 1970s she taught the first computer programming courses in the county, instructing students in Basic and Fortran. At that time the students’ programs were put on punch tapes.

She taught for a total of 25 years and, at her retirement in 1976, was chairperson of the Math Department at Woodrow.

Lanier was also active in civic groups and in her church. She was a member of the Beckley Junior Woman’s Club and president of the Highland Garden Club. A member of the First Christian Church for more than 50 years, she served as teacher, elder and church librarian. After she and her husband moved to Mathews County, Va., in 1978, she was elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Gloucester.

She died on May 21, 2004, in Columbia, Md., at Somerford Place Assisted Living following a short illness.

Edwin Ratcliffe was born in Charleston, on March 29, 1913. He was the son of Everett and Atha DeVinney Ratcliffe. He graduated from Charleston High School. During World War II, he was a captain in the 522nd Field Artillery of the Japanese-American 442nd Combat Team. He later retired as a major from the Army Reserves.

He came to Beckley and was an independent insurance agent from 1939 until he sold Beckley Insurance Agency in 1976. He also had been associated with Home Insurance Agency in Beckley and Ratcliffe-McClain Insurance Agency in Bardstown, Ky.

He served two terms as the president of the West Virginia Insurance Agents Association. He also served as president of the Beckley Junior Chamber of Commerce; for several years, he was the president of the Board of Trustees of Beckley College.

Edwin was a deacon in the First Christian Church in Beckley before moving to Mathews County, Va., where he joined the First Presbyterian Church of Gloucester. He died June 15, 1997, in Newport News, Va. Lanier and Edwin were married for 54 years.

“This family has strong Beckley ties and an enduring interest in education,” noted Sharon Lilly, BAF scholarship program officer. “We hope that both the financial aid offered through this scholarship fund and their example will encourage Raleigh County students to take advantage of all opportunities to pursue advanced studies.”

Contact the Beckley Area Foundation, 304-253-3806 or, for additional information about starting a named permanent endowment.

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