William Rathman, 91, WWII veteran, business leader dies

A man who served his country and his community has died.

William “Bill” Rathman Sr., a World War II veteran and Middletown community leader, died last week in Hilton Head Island, S.C. He was 91.

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Rathman served in the United States Navy and later transferred to the United States Air Force JAG Reserve. Soon after, he served as a commander of the American Legion Post 218 and was commended with the Outstanding Community Service Award.

He had a distinguished career as an attorney and was senior partner of his firm in Middletown. His career included serving as president of the Middletown and Butler County Ohio Bar associations and the Federal Bar Association Cincinnati Chapter. He also served 12 years on the Ohio State Bar Association’s Council of Delegates. He was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and served on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners and Grievances.

Rathman’s nephew Tim Carlson, a Middletown attorney, said his uncle taught him the importance of following through on promises.

“He told me to keep my word,” Carlson said. “That’s when a handshake meant something.”

When Rathman was 48, he became an ordained minister serving at the Church of the Ascension in Middletown.

Carlson said his uncle “married and buried” everyone in the family.

“Having him around was special,” Carlson said. “We was always there for us.”

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He served on boards of many civic/community organizations including the Butler County Park Commission, United Way, Junior Achievement, Arts in Middletown, Boy Scouts, Comprehensive Counseling Service and the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges.

In 1952, Rathman became active in Masonic affairs serving in many leadership capacities in Middletown, Dayton and Cincinnati, including president of the Masonic Temple Board of Trustees and chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Scottish Rite of the Valley of Dayton and Cincinnati.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Connie; daughter Marchie; sister Lois R. Fonda, and four grandchildren, Will, Caroline, Aaron and Anna Vera.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. June 15 at St. Luke’s Church on Hilton Head Island.

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