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Ocilea Ruffin affectionately known by many as “Dear,” “Mama,” ”Ma Ruffin,” and “O.C.,” born September 5, 1927 in Bessemer, Alabama to the late Jimmie and Justine Warren. Dear accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior at an early age at St. Peter Primitive Baptist Church. She attended and graduated from Dunbar High School in 1944. She met and married her high school sweetheart James Ruffin, Sr. soon after graduation, to this union was born, Alice Stine, Mary Dean, Pamela Jean, Loretta Faye, Brenda Joyce, James Spencer, Jr., Anthony Wayne, and Michael Wayne. In 1950 the Ruffin family migrated to Cleveland, Ohio with four little babies in tow. Upon arrival Dear united with New Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, located on Cedar Road. She was a faithful and dedicated member of New Sardis and enjoyed serving the Lord. Dear served on the A.J.W. Chorus, the Dorcas Society, and the Women’s Auxiliary.
By trade, O.C. was a natural at styling hair. She worked as a “hairdresser” in her kitchen beautifying women and charging them only $2.00 for a Press and Curl. Once settled in Cleveland, she attended Cosmetology School and graduated as a Licensed Cosmetologist. Shortly thereafter O.C. rented a booth at Geneva’s Hair Solon on Cedar Rd. After many years of “doing hair” O.C. wanted a change and began working at Poly Clinic in Dietary. In 1976, O.C. began working at Hough Bakeries as the Assistant to the Head Chef, on Lakeview until she retired.
Mama was family oriented and enjoyed life! Every month was a celebration and every Sunday there was Sunday dinner. Her true passion was cooking and if you ever had dinner at the Ruffin’s house you knew just how well she cooked, there was so many of us her dinners were a true reflection of 2 fish, 5 loaves, everyone ate.
Always wanting more for her family, Mama moved from Garden Valley in the mid 70’s and bought a house on East 123rd Street. She had finished rearing seven of her eight children and became a full-time grandmother/mother to her eldest granddaughters, Fontaine, Alice, and LaTaunya, with her baby boy Michael. Mama was strict but loving and always had a listening ear. She was our Spiritual leader, she made sure we went to Sunday School and church EVERY Sunday and that we knew the Word, an Educator, she always said Education is power, no-one can take it away from you, our Head Chef, she always made sure we had a home cooked meal every day. She taught us to pray, vote, work hard for the things we wanted, and cook (never use a microwave). When you came into the Ruffin home, you felt her love, she was supportive in whatever your heart desired, she was your biggest fan. She loved children, our house was often filled with the neighborhood kids from the porch to the living room. Mama had no complaints, she wanted us to have the best.
Our “Mama” leaves us with lessons of love, faith, prayer, family bonding. The ability to strive, pivot, and continue towards success. We will cherish and pass down these lessons along with her loving memories for the rest of our lives.
On Thursday, October 26, 2023, Mama departed this life surrounded by her children and grandchildren at home. She was preceded in death by her parents Jimmie and Justine Warren, sisters, Lucille (Lee), Queen Esther, brother Bradley, and grandson James. She is survived by her children: Alice Stine, Mary Dean, Pamela Jean, Loretta Faye, Brenda Joyce, James Spencer (Sharon), Anthony Wayne (Valerie), Michael DeWayne (Sheila); grandchildren, Ricardo Sr. (Felicia), Fontaine, Alice, LaTaunya, Yolanda (Terrence), Nelisha (Festus), Joseph II, Her’Schell (Antonio), Shamia, Jasmyn, LeRon, Chad, Anthony Jr., Cierra, Nichelle, Michael Jr., Maya, Javon; great-grandchildren: Dominique, Diamond, Dior, Ronesha, Jihad, Jamie, Elijah, Rain, Jada, Jorion, James Anthony, Ricardo Jr., Isaiah, Joseph III, Xavier, Legend, King, Zariah, Lennox, Jayce, Jrue, Jai; great great-grandson, Jonah; great-nephew Dassan; sister Amanda; nieces, Jacqueline, Tina, Gloria, nephews, James, Charles, Michael, Gary, Earnest, and Gary. A host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.