Vivian Ratzlaff Carter

Vivian Ratzlaff Carter, 94, passed away peacefully at her home in Alameda surrounded by her loved ones. Born in 1923 to Jacob Benjamin Ratzlaff and Susie Koehn Ratzlaff, Vivian was the next to youngest of 14 children. She was the last surviving child of a large farming family.

Vivian’s ancestors were followers of Menno Simons, a 16th Century Dutch Anabaptist, who preached adult baptism and the rejection of military service and holding of public office. They were known as Mennonites. Vivian’s great grandparents and father, who was born in Poland, joined a wave of Mennonite immigration to the United States, seeking religious freedom, beginning in the late 1600s and ending in about 1882. Vivian’s mother was born in Galva, Kan. 

They moved around America, often in covered wagons and on trains, farming in Kansas, Oklahoma, Canada and Washington State. They would eventually settle in Winton, Calif., in 1911. They spoke mostly Dutch and never learned to speak or understand English. The Ratzlaff and Koehn families are part of the early pioneers of the farming community of Winton.

In the early 1940s Vivian left the farm life for the big city. She got a job at Encinal Terminals in Alameda. There she met her future husband, Vernon Leo Carter, who worked there as a shipping clerk. Vernon, a local baseball personality, died in 1989. 

Vivian is survived by her three children: Dann Carter, Leslie Carter and Susan Jack; grandchildren: Kai Jack, Jeffery Jack, Elizabeth Carter and Kathryn Carter Canning; and great-grandchildren: Madison and Ethan Jack.

Vivian was a deeply religious woman who joined the Jehovah Witnesses in the early 1950s. She was a faithful member and devout Christian. Vivian thanked Jehovah in prayer and lived her faith every day of her life until the day she died.  

Vivian was known to all as a very sweet person. She was always willing to help family, friends and neighbors. She enjoyed being a homemaker. She quoted the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 31 about her own mother: “She is watching over the goings on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat.” Vivian loved to garden, sew; everyone loved her cooking. Her daughter Leslie remembers her as the original environmentalist. She would never waste anything. She washed plastic bags and hung them out to dry. She was practical, with good old-fashioned values. A quiet and reserved women who was loved by all.

Services will be held this Saturday, June 2, at 2 p.m. at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses at 2039 Lincoln Ave.