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Christine Cecelia Ratke DVM., age 70, of Bloomingdale, passed peacefully on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 into heaven at the Rose Arbor Hospice House, Kalamazoo.  She fought a valiant fight to continue to live and enjoy her family, friends and all the lovely Corgi’s , Borzoi’s and one Chart Polski that were her family.

The daughter of Clement Joseph & Rosella Cecelia (Ozga) Ratke, she was born on September 25, 1946 in Royal Oak.  Chris was a very accomplished professional having attained her Bachelor of Science, Honors College, Michigan State in 1968; DVM degree from Michigan State in 1969; Doctor of Philosophy in Pathobiology (Phd) in department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Research 1981. She obtained a Certification in the American College of Veterinary Pathologist, she was a professor of radiology at MSU for several years. She also was in private practice on the east coast for a few years, she then went to work at Upjohn in cancer research. This knowledge allowed her to have valued input to her own treatment through the years fighting Malignant Melanoma. When Upjohn sold to Pfizer she decided to leave research and live on her farm and raise dogs.

Caritas kennels was born and she continued to raise champion Corgi’s and Borzoi’s. Chris really enjoyed dog shows because of her friendship with her doggy colleagues which was so phenomenal. She liked everyone and was so kind to newcomers. Chris was easy to like, she was generous and fun to be around. She will be missed by so many of us that were fortunate to call her a special friend. She raised many champions and was responsible for others becoming successful in their breeding programs. She imported dogs from Australia , Sweden, Netherlands and Poland. Chris would stop at nothing to help one of her dogs survive. She would do whatever was needed to care for her beloved animals.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Robert; and a very good friend, Edward De Young. Surviving are her sister, Bernadine Gregor; four nephews, James, Mark, John and Dan; very close friends, Denise Pucilowski, Davie Thompson, and Carol Ecker, DVM. as well as many friends who were like sisters to her.

We want to especially thank the oncologist Dr. Suzanne Hayman from The Mayo Clinc who worked with her on a personal basis through Chris’s 12 years of an uphill battle to survive in remission through the years of living with a terminal disease. She was a constant patient who never gave up through all of the bone marrow transplants, stem cell, transfusions, chemotherapy, experimental treatments, radiology and all the other painful procedures she endured to live her life. She had such a positive attitude even when the pain was excruciating toward the end. Her animals were her main concern and several friends stepped up to assure her that all of them had good forever homes. Many of us brought dogs to see her at Rose Arbor so she could visit them.

In lieu of flowers Christine’s wishes were to donation to the following organizations, Humane Society of St. Joe, 2506 Grape Rd, Mishawaka, In 46530; Paws with a Cause 4646 S. Division St, Wayland, Mi. 49348 or St Judes Catholic Church P.O. Box 102 13809 M 40 No, Gobels, Mi. 49055 (Click links on the left to donate)

A memorial service at the Kalamazoo Cluster, will be announced at a later date. 

Honoring her wishes, cremation will take place. Arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids.


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7 Condolences

  1. Jeri Nederhoed on February 4, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Chris I will always remember that day we put up the kennel fencing we sure had a great time. And thanks for letting me come over and play with puppies. And most of all thanks for 2 of the bests dogs, my borzois Kes and Hanna. Rest in peace you will be missed.


  2. Nancy Stewart on February 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    &128144;Chris, Thank you for my first Corgi, Louie “the log” and my subsequent Corgi’s & assisting in breeding Merecedes Louise to your Sparky “the wonder dog”. I’ll never forget how much fun I had with that litter and the dog (Carley Ann) we donated to the McCallisters for a hearing dog for Paws for the Cause….I can’t look at a Corgi and not think of you. Give my best to all of our previously transitioned ones on the other side of the “Rainbow Bridge”, they all be glad to see you and welcome you home. Most of all, thank you for being my friend and all you taught me…..I will miss you &128549;. I extend my deepest sympathy to your sister and surviving family members. May the Lord bless you and keep you, my friend. Nancy

  3. Cheryl Stout on February 6, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Chris, Thank you for your friendship and being the best boss I’ve ever had. I will cherish all the memories, especially the day we put up the kennel fencing – hard hats should have been mandatory.


  4. Lori Norris on February 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you for all the wonderful memories !!! My time with you and the girls in the lab during Upjohn times and afterwards were some of the best times. ( ok, besides the kennel fencing, that was fun and very entertaining !! ) You will be greatly missed.

  5. Farid on February 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you so much for introducing me to the wonder world of dog ownership. You’ve brought plenty of laughs and good times to my family. Cutie is a cherished member of our family and we cannot thank you enough for bringing her into our life.

  6. Mickey Largen Lowry on April 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Dear Chris, Thank you so much for my Missy, she was a true ray of sunshine and my joy. She followed you to Heaven 2-7-2017. Thank you for all your knowledge and common sense approach , you were one in a million. Play with all your sweet pups in Heaven. You will never be forgotten. &10084;&65039;&128062;&128591;

  7. Michaline Largen on January 3, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Christine was such a lovely woman,I cant believe shes with our Lord.I adopted a 3 year old Corgi-Missy from her in November 2014. Missy was the sweetest and most loving dog ever.Missy must have known that Christine passed last January.Missy lost her dog buddy Roxy the previous November. The out of the blue,Missy developed bladder stones and died in the vets care due to a ruptured kidney on February 7 2017. I believe Missy left to be with Christine,Roxy and all the other dogs she shared her life with at Caritas. Rest In Peace Christine,thank you for the gift of Missy. You will always be remembered

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