By Hank McCoy
John Ruffin, mentor, and philanthropist, as well as the former chairman of the Coral Springs Community Redevelopment Agency, died on July 24 after succumbing to prostate cancer,
Ruffin, 79, spent his life as an agent of change in the community. As the chairman of the United Negro College Fund in Broward County, Ruffin had raised more than $2 million in scholarships during his time there.
The entrepreneurial spirit of Ruffin flourished over the years when he and partners purchased WRBD 1470 AM radio, making it South Florida’s first black-owned radio station in 1986.
He also started J.D. Ruffin Associates with his wife, Management Consultants, that run retail concession shops to this day; the Ruffin Group, a consulting firm, and Trans Ocean Holdings, which developed economic relationships between the US, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
Ruffin was born on June 15, 1941, in Moncure, North Carolina, and grew up in Chatham County, North Carolina. His mother was a lifelong educator and passed the need to mentor others down to her son.
Ruffin graduated from Morgan State University in Maryland before receiving a master’s from Cornell University.
Ruffin received two honorary doctorates from Morgan State and Florida Memorial University because of his work in civil rights. According to his obituary, he didn’t rest on his laurels; he continued to break down barriers as a black man in America.
As a mentor and philanthropist, he sat on a slew of boards; as vice chairman of Florida Memorial University Board of Trustees, chairman of the Coral Springs Community Redevelopment Agency, active in the Urban League of Broward County, The Community Foundation of Broward, and the Coral Springs Economic Development Foundation.
“He grew up in a community where people did for each other, and his mother was always giving,” wife Dorothy “Dottie” Ruffin explained from the obituary prepared by the city of Coral Springs.
His work with Trans Ocean Holdings even took him to Ghana, where he developed a relationship with a local tribal chief, leading to making him a “nana” or royalty in the tribe.
At the August 5, city commission meeting, Mayor Scott Brook made his sentiment known to the wife of Ruffin.
“He was a mentor to many young men in our community, in Broward, and I’m sure beyond. Thank you, Dottie, for allowing John to give so much back to our community,” Brook said.
The city commission made August 5 a day of honor for John Ruffin and the legacy that he has left in the city, county, and beyond.
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- Hank McCoy is a writer and journalist covering music, politics, and culture on his blog Hank’s Luncheonette, as well as currently working on publishing his first novel. Hank grew up in Parkland and graduated from FAU before moving to Chicago where he worked in the music industry as an artist and talent booker when he wasn’t throwing people out of punk bars. Hank recently moved back to South Florida after living overseas in Berlin while he traveled to Europe.
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