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Viessa Ruff West

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Published: February 14, 2013

Viessa Ruff West of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, peacefully passed away in her sleep on Sunday, February 10th at The Franciscan Care Center in Sylvania, Ohio at the age of 91. Viessa was born the second child of Simmie and Emmett Ruff. She and her siblings were raised by "grandma", Orner Wiley because both of their parents passed by the time Viessa was 12 years old. Viessa helped her sister Evelyn and brothers Emmett and Robert Ruff raise their younger sister, Doris.

Viessa attended J.C. Corbin High School on the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff campus. She fell in love and married Matthew Thomas West. She had two children Ethel and Thomas. She knew the importance of family and was dedicated to the service of others. She strongly believed in education and began taking classes to earn a degree. She used this degree to secure a position at the Extension Office with the University of Arkansas. She helped facilitate the interaction between the University's agricultural researchers and the local farming community. It was her kindness, acute understanding of people and her deep religious beliefs that aided her success.

She joined Pine Bluff's Newtown Missionary Baptist Church as a young adult and served the church and the Pine Bluff Community for 60+ years. She enjoyed religious service, teaching and working with young people, with which she took great pride in their development. Upon retiring from the University she was recruited to work at a local nonprofit, "Neighbor to Neighbor". This was a culmination of all her experiences. She was able to use her management skills, love of service to others and her unwavering commitment to the community she loved. When she retired for the second time she moved to Toledo to spend time with her family, where she united with The Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church. While at Indiana she taught Sunday School and served on the Mother's Board.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Matthew Thomas West, daughter, Ethel, son-in-law, Lee Artis Nelson Sr. and grandson, Richard L. Nelson, brother Robert Ruff and sister, Evelyn Mays. She is survived by her loving siblings Emmett Ruff (Winnie) and Doris Ivory. She is also survived and greatly missed by her son, Thomas (Ann) West, her grandchildren, DeNeese and Lee Artis Nelson II (Lee Lee), Kevin West (Christine Stahle), Ashley Koch, Erik Koch, Aerin, and Alek West, and her great-grandchildren, Brandon Nelson, Mercedes Alissia-Marie Graves, Patrick Jordan Hardin, Evan, Kathryn, and Caroline West.

She was known to many as "V", "Viessa", "Miss West", "Mother West" or "Apple Pie". Regardless of what you called her, she impacted your life, loved you, and treated you like family.

Her memorial service will be held at Indiana Missionary Baptist Church (640 Indiana Ave) on Saturday at 11 a.m. Arrangements were made through the Reeb Funeral Home, where online condolences may be offered to the family at

The family wishes to thank the staff of the Franciscan Care Center for the kindness they showed Ms West during her tenure there. Special thanks to Deborah Villolovos, Telly Timpson, Theresia Ngeniform, Cassandra Porter, and Ms Rutha and her family for making Ms. West feel at home.

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