Fern Pfafflin Rathe


Fern Pfafflin Rathe, 83, died Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, at the Guttenberg Care Center. 

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, at the First Congregational Church, Moline, Ill.

Burial will be at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Guttenberg City Cemetery, Guttenberg.

A light lunch and reception to celebrate Fern's life will immediately follow at the Rathe home, 106 Abel Dr., Guttenberg, until 4:00 p.m.

Fern Pfafflin Rathe was born Jan. 8, 1930, in La Crosse, Wis., the only child of Edward and Bessie (Chalsma) Pfafflin. She was raised on the family farm near New Amsterdam, roller-skating to the one-room schoolhouse and raising sheep in the 4-H Club. Fern graduated from Holmen High School in 1948 as valedictorian. Her upbringing made her an exceptionally organized and resourceful woman.

In 1952, Fern earned a B.A. in chemistry/zoology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where she met John Rathe. The two were married Aug. 29, 1953, in LaCrosse, Wis. After college she worked as a biochemist at Merck and Co. in New Jersey. Novobiacin, a new antibiotic, was crystallized at her lab bench in Merck's research laboratory.

Fern and John settled in Moline, Ill., in 1961, to raise their four children. She was active in many community groups including the Quad City Symphony, King’s Daughters, PEO, and the Medical Society Auxiliary. Fern obtained her private pilot’s license with a twin-engine rating. She was a regular swimmer, golfer, tennis player, and skier.

Fern had a strong appreciation for art and music, and loved to entertain. Her innate sense of style and taste was enhanced by her travels with John to all of the inhabited continents. Closer to home, many wonderful summers were spent along the Mississippi at the family cottage in Guttenberg where Fern and John eventually moved in 2010.

Never an idle person, her strong spirit and presence influenced all who knew her.

Fern is survived by her husband of 60 years, John; her children, Richard (Cathy) of Gainesville, Fla., Mark (Simone) of Sacramento, Calif., Diana (Doug) Pray of Los Angeles, Calif., Bruce (Suzanne) of Stevens Point, Wis.; and her grandchildren, Kaitlin, Lauren, Austin, Theron, Sophia, Ellen and Anna.

The family asks that memorials in Fern's name be directed to: The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Fern Rathe Healthcare Scholarship, 700 Locust, No.195, Dubuque, IA 52001, or visit, http://www.dbqfoundation.org/ and type "fern" in the search field to donate online.  This memorial scholarship is in recognition of the professionalism and compassion of the caregivers at the Guttenberg Care Center.

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, http://support.pdf.org/fern.

Quad City Symphony Orchestra, https://www.qcsymphony.com/donations.html.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here