Cover photo for Frances Robilio Ruffin's Obituary
Frances Robilio Ruffin Profile Photo
1936 Frances 2023

Frances Robilio Ruffin

October 28, 1936 — November 1, 2023


Frances Marie Robilio Ruffin passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on November 1, 2023, in Athens, Georgia, following a period of declining health. She was 87 years old. Frances was born October 28, 1936, the middle child of Theresa Bellanti Robilio and Frank Paul Robilio, Sr., in Memphis, Tennessee. Frances graduated from St. Agnes Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1954, and attended Memphis State University. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia; Masters of Education from Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia; and attended Emory University Graduate School.

Frances began her long teaching career at St. Louis Catholic School, Memphis, Tennessee, followed by St. Jude Catholic School, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, Atlanta, Georgia, where she taught first grade for many years before serving as reading specialist and assistant principal. She went on to other teaching positions at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Austin, Texas, and the Atlanta Hebrew Academy, Atlanta, Georgia. Frances finally retired from teaching in the late 1990s after over 35 years in the field.

In her retirement years, she and her husband became avid collectors of Blue Ridge China, eventually amassing a collection of over 5,000 pieces. She used her writing talents to coauthor 4 books for collectors of Blue Ridge China and to publish a newsletter, the Blue Ridge China Quarterly, for almost 20 years. She also completed genealogy for both sides of her family, tracing her Italian roots back to the 1800s. Frances then turned her talents to writing historical fiction, based in part on her life in Tennessee, Texas, and California. Her first published novel, Famiglia, garnered her a nomination for Georgia Author of the Year in 2012. Her work also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Frances was preceded in death by her parents, older sister, Rosanna Robilio Baldi, younger brother, Frank Paul Robilio, Jr., and many beloved relatives and friends. Frances is survived by her loving husband of 65 years, John Stanley Ruffin, Sr., son, John Stanley Ruffin, Jr., (Lisa), daughters, Cheryl Ruffin Walz (Jonathan), Andrea Ruffin Weir (Scott), Dana Ruffin Redwine (Roby), and Theresa Ruffin Jones (Thomas), as well as twelve much loved grandchildren - Elizabeth (Andy), Roby, Maggie, Angelina, John Scott, Tommy, Frances, Robert, Rebecca, Abby, Bonnie, and Jack, great granddaughter - Wrenlee, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or any cancer research initiative. The family will receive visitors at Lord & Stephens, West, Watkinsville, Georgia, on Monday, November 6, 2023, from 10am-12pm. The Funeral Mass will be at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Chapel, Athens, Georgia, on Monday, November 6, 2023, at 3:30 p.m. Private interment will follow at Oconee Memorial Park. Lord & Stephens Funeral Homes, West, Watkinsville is in charge of arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frances Robilio Ruffin, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, November 6, 2023

10:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Mass

Monday, November 6, 2023

Starts at 3:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Private Interment

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