Hailing Judge John H. Ruffin Jr. as a man who paved the way for others, his friends, family and elected officials unveiled a marker Monday dedicating a stretch of state highway to him.
The hour-long ceremony at Abundant Life Worship Center in Hephzibah celebrated the life of the Waynesboro, Ga., native, who broke barriers as the first black Augusta Superior Court judge in 1986 and the first black chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals in 2005.
After lifting the veil on the marker, which names Georgia Highway 25 from Georgia Highway 88 to the Burke County line in Ruffin’s honor, his widow, Judith, expressed her thanks.
“I’m so happy that his colleagues and friends ... see the value of his work,” she said. “Let this be our inspiration for better times. Let this road lead us on to greater things.”
Several close friends and judges carried the highway analogy in their remarks, calling Ruffin, who died in January 2010, a “trailblazer” and a man who created a road to take the community to a better place.
Former Superior Court Judge Bettianne Childers-Hart expressed her hope that the thousands of motorists who pass the sign would learn more about Ruffin’s life and be inspired by his achievements.
Augusta State Court Judge David Watkins said naming a state highway after Ruffin shows that more people recognize the importance of his legacy.
“The way has been paved,” he said. “It’s made easier for people like me to achieve some success in the profession.”