IOWA CITY — John C. Rathe, M.D., 83, died Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, at his residence in Iowa City.
John Charles Rathe was born Aug. 9, 1931, in Iowa City to Herbert W., M.D., and Dorothy (Young) Rathe. He was raised in Waverly, Iowa, where he developed his lifelong interests in photography, aviation and the outdoors. John was an Eagle Scout, and a YMCA camp counselor, and he graduated from Shattuck School in 1949. The generosity and sacrifices of his parents through the Great Depression and World War II profoundly influenced his life.
In 1953 John earned a B.A. in chemistry/zoology from Carleton College, Northfield, Minn., where he met the love of his life, Fern Pfafflin. They were married Aug. 29, 1953, in LaCrosse, Wis., and enjoyed 60 years of marriage. John attended medical school at Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1957. An internship at King County Hospital in Seattle, and a residency at Stanford University Hospital completed his training as a radiologist.
John and Fern settled in Moline in 1961, where they raised their four children and made their home for more than 50 years. John co-founded Moline X-Ray and worked at Lutheran Hospital, serving as president of the Lutheran Hospital medical staff and chief of radiology. He was part of a new era of radiology and radiation therapy. His proudest professional achievement was building the practice with his partners and bringing this level of service to the people of the Quad-Cities.
John was a private pilot who held twin engine and instrument ratings. He and Fern, also a pilot, flew to many destinations in North and Central America. He loved to ski, hike and scuba dive, and he always had a camera with him. For the past 45 years, he and his family have enjoyed rest and recreation on the Mississippi River at Guttenberg.
John was remarkably well-informed on a wide range of topics and could wire a house, plumb a bathroom or build a garage with skill. Upon retirement, he worked with Habitat for Humanity and continued to travel the world with his wife.
His devotion to Fern was unparalleled, and their children all became successful adults due to his love, patience, humility and ability to problem-solve.
John was preceded in death by his wife; his parents; his brother-in-law, James A. Clifton, M.D.; and his sister-in-law, Evelyn Rathe.
John is survived by his sister, Katherine Clifton, Iowa City; and his brother, James W. Rathe, M.D., Waverly, Iowa; his children, Richard (Catherine) Rathe, M.D., Gainesville, Fla.; Mark (Simone) Rathe, Sacramento, Calif.; Diana (Doug) Pray, Los Angeles; and Bruce (Suzanne) Rathe, Stevens Point, Wis.; and his grandchildren, Kaitlin, Lauren, Austin, Theron, Ellen, Sophia and Anna.