Mourners praise former judge Ruffin

Hundreds came out to Tabernacle Baptist Church on Saturday to celebrate the life of retired Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John H. "Jack" Ruffin Jr.

His family, friends and colleagues reflected on the impact he had on their lives, his field and the community.

Dr. Mallory Millender shared stories of family outings with the Ruffins and of Ruffin's desire to make a difference and his faith in God.

"He was an extraordinary Sunday school teacher," the Paine College professor said. "Jack was in touch with the Word and the Spirit."

He encouraged people to continue the work Ruffin did to bring people together.

"Jack has done the heavy lifting for us," he said.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young remembered Ruffin as a person who fought for fair treatment for everyone, regardless of race and background.

"He did it with dignity, he did it with intellect and he did it with class," he said.

He shared quotes from Ruffin's speeches at other funerals, saying that a lot of what Ruffin had to say about others applied to Ruffin, too.

He told those in attendance that everyone is put in a place for a reason and that they should strive to make a difference wherever they are.

"God has put you in Augusta," he said. "Now what are you going to do about it?"

Ruffin's son S. Brinkley Ruffin encouraged people to mentor someone in their craft or profession and to contribute to the community.

Dr. Charles Goodman, who officiated at the funeral, recalled meeting Ruffin for the first time and seeing the influence he had on the community.

"It's amazing how a man so short could stand so tall," he said.

Ruffin, the first black member of the Augusta Bar Association, was also the first black judge on the Augusta Superior Court and the first black chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

Several resolutions and proclamations from groups and cities, including his hometown of Waynesboro, Ga., were given to the family in honor of Ruffin, who died Jan. 29.

Surviving are his wife, Judith Fennel Ruffin; son, Siemon Brinkley Ruffin and his wife, Candace; his father, John H. Ruffin; two grandsons; and a host of other family members.

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John H. "Jack" Ruffin Jr.

1934: Born in Waynesboro, Ga.

1957: Graduated from Morehouse College

1960: Graduated from Howard University School of Law

1961: Admitted to practice law in Georgia

1986: Appointed to the Augusta Judicial Circuit's Superior Court

1994: Appointed to the Court of Appeals of Georgia

2005: Named chief judge of the Court of Appeals