Phyllis Messenger Ratliff

August 17, 1935-May 16, 2003

Phyllis was born on August 17, 1935 to Willard Messenger and Ruth Davidson Messenger. 71 days after Phyllis’ birth, Ruth tragically passed away. Her cause of death was listed as “Acute Nephritis, Cerebral Edema, and Convulsions.”

Ruth left behind young Phyllis, 2-year-old Lloyd “Red,” and 5 year old Ruby Jean.

On the 1940 Census, Phyllis is found residing with Julia [Willard’s Mother], Frank Sherman [Julia’s 2nd husband], along with Garland, Michael, Vera and Nina [Willard’s siblings], as well as Nina and Charles Willis’ children: Mary Edna, Nelle Rose, and Charles, Jr.
But Willard, Lloyd, and Ruby are nowhere to be found. That same year Willard would marry Juanita Griffith. The following year they would welcome baby Arnold “Butch,” followed by Joyce, Sharon, Patty, Larry “Bo,” and Robert “Steve.

I remember Phyllis and other family members speaking fondly of Frank Sherman, whom they called Dune.

Frank “Dune” Sherman, photo from, circa 1910
Dune’s draft registration card. It says he’s a farmer, he later found employment making headstones.

On her 17th birthday, Phyllis married Raymond Franklin Ratliff (30 Mar 1925 – 19 Jan 1998), son of Clarence Ratliff and Minnie Hazelwood Ratliff.

Ray and Phyllis on their Wedding Day – 17 August 1952
Ray and Phyllis had two sons and two daughters together. Here she is in 1957 with baby #3.
Ray, Phyllis and 3 of their children, circa 1958
Their union did not last. This photo is dated 1976.
Here I am with my Granny Phyllis in the early 90s.