Robert Edward Ruffin

October 16, 1931 ~ June 10, 2021 (age 89)


The service for Mr. Ruffin will be live streamed on the Facebook Page of Fisher Memorial Funeral Parlor.


Robert Edward Ruffin was born on October 16, 1931 to Charles Peter Ruffin and Ella Poteat Ruffin. Though born in Graham, North Carolina, Robert grew up in Durham, where he attended Hillside High School and was an impeccable trombone player.

Upon graduating from Hillside in 1950, Robert attended North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) for two years, before enlisting in the United States Marines. While in the Military, Robert served in the Korean War, for which he was awarded a Korean Service Medal with two stars. In addition, he received numerous other honors, including the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.

 After serving in the Military for three years, Robert returned to Durham, where he continued to live a full life - including marrying Ethel Lewis Ruffin in 1958. Married for 27 years, Robert and Ethel had three children - Carlton Peter Ruffin (Lyndsey; Evette), Cynthia Jan Ruffin Rawles (Lynwood), and Karen Lynn Ruffin Jones (Michael, Sr; Morgan; Michael, II; Faith). The family settled in Hampton, VA in 1962, until Ethel’s passing in 1985.

Later, in 1987 Robert married Thelma Blackwell, of whom he remained wed until his passing. Throughout their marital years, Robert and Thelma enjoyed a variety of activities, including travel, enjoyed many cruises together, and fun outings with family and friends.

A man of many talents, Robert showcased his skill sets across careers with the United States Post Office, the Newport News Shipyard, as a Commercial Fisherman (given his love of swimming and the water), and as a contracting supervisor at NASA, from which he retired.

Throughout his life, Robert was a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and history. He could often be seen reading the newspaper (daily), enjoying crossword puzzles, playing solitaire on his computer, or even enjoying western tv shows and movies. Robert’s wit and sharp intelligence was felt within every conversation, even until his final days.

 Robert passed on Thursday, June 10, 2021 in the comfort of his home, with those he loved by his side. He is survived by his wife Thelma, children Carlton, Cynthia and Karen, stepchildren William and Dawn Rogers, numerous grand and great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, other family and friends. He is preceded in death by his father Charles, mother Ella, first wife Ethel, and sisters (Mary Hadessa and Dorothy Mae). He will be remembered by those who loved him most, including his older brother and best friend Charles Ruffin (Fleeta; Charles; Cheryl; Craig).

A phenomenal husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend to all of those around him Robert’s physical presence will be immensely missed; however, his spirit, as well as the memory of the incredible man he was will remain with us forever.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Robert Edward Ruffin, please visit our floral store.


Memorial Service
June 19, 2021

1:00 PM
Antioch Baptist Church
1415 Holloway Street
Durham, NC 27703

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