R. Jackson Ratcliffe, 74, a lifelong resident of Manassas who owned and operated the R. Jackson Ratcliffe Inc. independent insurance agency there for almost 50 years, died March 17 at Prince William Hospital of complications following surgery for stomach ulcers.

Mr. Ratcliffe took over operation of the insurance agency, a family business that wrote all types of insurance policies, in the early 1930s, and he retired about five years ago but continued to stop by the office daily.

He was a graduate of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and was a county surveyor for Prince William County from 1945 to 1965. He also operated his own land surveying business.

Mr. Ratcliffe was a past master of the Manasseh Masonic Lodge in Manassas, a past president of the Manassas Volunteer Fire Company and from 1935 to 1945 was registrar of voters in Manassas. He also served on the Manassas City Planning Commission.

He was a member of the Kiwanis Club in Manassas and was a former vestryman, treasurer and senior warden at Trinity Episcopal Church. He was also a scoutmaster for 10 years and at his death was the oldest Eagle Scout in Prince William County.

An amateur local historian, Mr. Ratcliffe was the author of two books, "This Was Manassas" and "This Was Prince William." He served for 40 years on the board of directors of United Virginia Bank and its predecessor, Peoples National Bank.

Survivors include his wife, Virginia Conner Ratcliffe, a daughter, Mrs. C. Warren Harrover, a son, Richard J. Ratcliffe, a sister, Rose Ratcliffe Beard, and four grandchildren, all of Manassas.