Robert Linus ‘R.L.’ Rathjen

Rathjen Enlarge photo


Former Durango resident Robert Linus Rathjen died Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 at his home in Aztec. He was 87.

Known as “R.L.”, he was born to Robert and Gladys (Boren) Rathjen on June 28, 1925, in Aztec. The Rathjen family moved extensively throughout his childhood years because of Mr. Rathjen’s father’s construction career.

Mr. Rathjen graduated from Longmont High School and attended the old Fort Lewis College in Hesperus for about two years. While in Southwest Colorado, he met his future wife, Bonnie Smith, when he was working in his aunt’s restaurant, Jackie’s Drive-In, in Cortez.

On Nov. 22, 1948, the couple married in Englewood and lived there for a short time. They soon moved back to La Plata County, living in Durango and the West Animas Valley for a total of 50 years.

Mr. Rathjen initially worked for his wife’s father as a truck driver before he established his own business, first called Bob’s Excavation and then United Construction. In the early 1970s, his construction crew was involved in building one of the biggest projects in the area, Tamarron Resort, now associated with the Glacier Club. His family said Mr. Rathjen was “very proud of that project.”

In 1985, he retired, and he and his wife enjoyed traveling in their motor home throughout California and Arizona and boating in nearby Navajo and Vallecito reservoirs.

Mr. Rathjen had a real passion for golf that started in the 1960s, his family said, and he enjoyed teaching the sport to his grandchildren. He also enjoyed hunting, camping and being with his family.

Mr. Rathjen was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Bonnie Rathjen, in 2011; son Ricky Rathjen; and granddaughter Danielle Rathjen.

He is survived by his sons Doug Rathjen and Bobby Rathjen, both of Durango; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, at Hood Mortuary Chapel, 1261 East Third Ave. A funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, also at Hood. The Rev. Ron Tate will officiate. Burial will occur at Greenmount Cemetery in Durango.

Rathjen Enlarge photo