Earl Karl Rathke, age 91, died due to natural causes at Windsor Healthcare Center on February, 29, 2012.

On March 10, 1920, Earl was born in Rochester, New York, to the late Roy and Edith (Lotz) Rathke. Earl’s education included attending Hosea Rogers Grammar School and John Marshal High School, in Rochester, and various Army Air Force schools. About the time he was graduating from flight school, on March 6, 1943, Earl married Doris Ernisse in Chickasha, Oklahoma. During World War II, Earl served as an Air Force pilot and he attained the rank of lieutenant. While he was stationed in England, Earl’s plane was shot down and he spent 18 months as a prisoner of war in Barth, Germany.

From an early age Earl worked in the family business, Lotz Hardware, and he purchased that business in 1945. Later, in 1955, Earl sold the hardware business and took Doris and their two young children, Gary and Bonnie, on an extended trip throughout much of the United States. Then, after about a year, Earl settled with his wife and children in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where he built a home and began working for the United States Post Office.

In 1980, after retiring, Earl and Doris moved to Colorado Springs, where he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. Earl also spent his years in retirement enjoying many of his favorite activities, including golf, bowling, playing cards and, especially, alpine skiing. Until he was nearly 90 years old, Earl enjoyed going on family ski trips and was always ready to reminisce about a good ski story.

Earl is survived by his wife (Doris), two children (Gary and Bonnie) and their families: daughter-in-law (Charlotte Rathke), son-in-law (Michael Hickey), four grandchildren (Joshua and Benjamin Rathke, Amanda Haag and Laura Hickey), and six great-grandchildren. In addition to his parents, Earl is preceded in death by his sister and her husband, Gloria and Kenneth Bohrer.

No date is being released for the funeral service to be held with members of Earl’s immediate family. Earl will be entombed at the Shrine of Remembrance, 1730 Fountain Blvd., Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to American Ex-Prisoners of War, 3201 East Pioneer Parkway, Suite 40, Arlington, TX 76010 (817-649-2979).

The family would like to thank the staff and volunteers at Windsor Healthcare Center and Pathways Hospice for their help and support.

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