Arthur M. Ratliff Jr.

TAZEWELL, Va. — Arthur M. (Smiley) Ratliff, Jr., age 83, of Tazewell, Va., died Wednesday, October 31, 2007, in a Kingsport Hospital.

A Buchanan County native, he was born June 18, 1924, the son of the late Arthur M. Ratliff, Sr., and Ida Woosley Ratliff, and was the last surviving member of his immediate family. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers and four sisters.

He is survived by two daughters, Cathy Gibson, of Abingdon; Kim Bowman, of Lebanon, and five grandchildren: William Ratcliffe-Miller; Rebecca Gibson; Ann Ratcliffe-Bowman; Shor Ratcliffe-Bowman; and Graydon Ratcliffe-Bowman. He is also survived by a host of friends.

Mr. Ratliff, a well known and life-long resident of the mountains of Southwest Virginia, loved his State of Virginia and the county of Buchanan. He was a noted athlete during his teen years, excelling in football. He was a former teacher/coach, a successful businessman and an author, having written four books. A little known aspect of his life concerned his humanitarian efforts in helping various causes and individuals.

A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Mr. Ratliff was presented with nineteen medals for service to his country. He was awarded the bronze star for valor for capturing an enemy machine gun nest in 1950. Other medals included the United Nations Service Medal, Victory Medal for service in World War II, and two Purple Hearts.

After returning from the Korean War, Mr. Ratliff achieved success and fame as a winning football coach at Hurley High School from 1952-1954, having established the school's first football program. Those years were among his most cherished memories. Entering the mining business in 1955, he became successful as a businessman, later building banking, cattle and land empires. He was the largest individual landowner east of the Mississippi River, and once owned the fifth largest cattle outfit in the United States. He was the founder of Miners and Merchants Bank of Grundy, First Bank and Trust, of Lebanon, and the Big Stone Gap Bank and Trust, of Big Stone Gap, Va. He was also part owner of the Tanglewood and Crossroads Malls, of Roanoke, Va.

Prior to his death he continued to operate the Anchorage Shopping Center, Anchor Motel in Grundy, multiple rental properties and other enterprises.

During his lifetime, Mr. Ratliff was privileged to have stepped on each of the seven continents. One of his favorite places was New Zealand, specifically Henderson Island off the eastern coast of Australia. He was featured in several major publications, including the Cincinnati Post, the National Geographic and on the British Broadcasting Corporation.

An avid student of history throughout his life, Mr. Ratliff was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Emory and Henry University.

He was a member of the Springville Christian Church, in Springville.

Funeral Services for Arthur M. (Smiley) Ratliff, Jr., will be conducted Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. at the Grundy Funeral Home Chapel with Evangelists Johnny Elmore and Mike Rife officiating.

A private committal ceremony will be conducted at Dilston Hall, Tazewell, Va., following the services.

Friends may call at the Grundy Funeral Home Chapel today (Saturday) from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Grundy Funeral Home of Grundy, Va. is in charge of all arrangements.

To leave personal condolences online, visit

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