Ratterman has dedicated his life to the Oxford community

Journalist has worked in various capacities at the Oxford Press for 50 years.

OXFORD — Bob Ratterman, then a freshman at Miami University, heard what one of his English professors suggested to those students considering a journalism career.

He just didn’t follow the second half of the recommendation.

The professor told his wide-eyed college students to work at a weekly newspaper for two years, take that valuable experience and advance to a daily product.

Ratterman just never left the weekly world.

For more than 50 years, starting as an intern, later as an editor and finally as a freelancer, Ratterman has covered the Oxford community like no one before and probably like no one after him.

He is to the written word at Miami University what Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Weeb Ewbank, Paul Brown and Sid Gillman are to the “Cradle of Coaches.”

This is Ratterman’s last week writing freelance stories for the Oxford Press, thus beginning his third retirement. He retired as editor of the Oxford Press, then retired as director of the Talawanda/Oxford Pantry and Social Services where he worked for six years.

“It’s just time,” the 73-year-old said. “I’ve been at this long enough.”

While earning his degree from Miami in 1971, Ratterman worked for the Miami Student, a newspaper that was printed at the Oxford Press. During the summer of 1971, Ratterman was completing his degree by taking two classes, Appreciation of Art and Appreciation of Architecture, or as he called them: “Classes I could get through.”

He served as an intern at the Oxford Press, then accepted a full-time position that fall. For the next 18 years, he covered “courts and sports and everything in between,” he said.

Then in 1989, when Thomson Newspapers purchased the Oxford Press — a paper that was founded 57 years earlier — from Bob White and Dick Taylor, Ratterman applied for and was named editor.

Cox Newspapers purchased the Oxford Press in 2000 and Ratterman remained as editor. He retired as editor in 2009, took one year off as part of his retirement package, and started freelancing in 2011.

Ever since, he has produced four to five stories a week, always focusing on the community. At school board and city council meetings, Ratterman sat near the front row. His notebook was always full, his ears always open to the latest community news.

“Just being a good reporter,” he said. “I’ll miss the immediate connection to the community.”

In 2018, Ratterman was named one of Oxford’s citizens of the year.

Pat Meade, Talawanda’s school board president, said one of Ratterman’s “most important contributions” was his feature stories.

“It has been a great source of pride to the young people, their parents and guardians, and the community. Bob had such a great way of interviewing students for these stories and I know there are Oxford Press clippings in the possession of many students and parents in our community because of Bob’s work at the Press.” Meade said. “Fifty years from now the grandchildren of these young people will find these clippings in a box and Bob’s stories will be read again.”

Ratterman’s connection to Oxford may have been planted after he covered a court case on a Monday morning in August 1971. As he walked out of Area Court, Ratterman heard the sirens and followed the volunteer firefighters to a major fire in the Masonic Temple at the corner of Main and High streets.

Even as a young reporter, he understood the importance of talking to real people for his stories. He watched as the Oxford community “pitched in” during the fire that claimed the life of a Hamilton firefighter, he said.

“It stuck with me,” he said about the importance of community. “That has driven me. I try to write what has the most community interest and impact.”

Ratterman married Emilie, a Miami graduate, in 1972. They have two daughters, Meggan Davison and Elise Richard and son Christian; and two grandchildren, Abby Davison and Ben Davison.

He works the scoreboard for Miami field hockey and soccer games and plans to remain active in the community.

“It’s been an interesting retirement,” he said with a laugh.

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