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Ruby M. Fulfer

Claremont Manor resident Ruby Maude Fulfer died on April 8, 2012 at age 87, precisely one year after the death of her husband of 67 years, Norris Fulfer.

Mrs. Fulfer was born on December 26, 1924 to Germany Ferguson and Katie Lou Bridges Ferguson in the Texas panhandle town of Sunnyside: a “wide-spot-in-the-road” to locals. Approximately 16 months later, her sister, Beatrice, joined the family. Unable to pronounce “Ruby,” the younger sister opted for “Tootsie,” which evolved into “Tooter,” a name of affection that endured through Mrs. Fulfer’s formative years.

When Mrs. Fulfer was 7, her father died of pneumonia, leaving her mother with 2 young girls and few resources—this was during the Depression and the Dust Bowl. Before long, her father’s brother, widower Robert Alonzo Ferguson (Uncle Lonnie), married her mother and helped raise Mrs. Fulfer and her younger sister.

Surrounded by farmland, Mrs. Fulfer’s childhood hometown consisted of a cotton gin, a grade school and a church. When she was young, her family lived in a frontier-style “dugout” home, but eventually a house was built above this rather primitive dwelling.  Later, “Uncle Lonnie” built a store attached to the front of the house and installed several gas pumps, supplying the local farmers with their basic needs (and years later, sodas, ice cream and candy to visiting grandchildren).

Mrs. Fulfer’s grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousin lived nearby this bustling family home, which also had chickens in the yard that provided eggs and meat for countless family meals. Her mother was a good Southern cook and, frequently, the town’s pastor was invited for Sunday dinner after the service.

Mrs. Fulfer met her future husband, Norris Fulfer, at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Texas where she earned her associate degree. They went to the movies on their first date, but with no car and no bus fare, they had to walk, and “Ruby wasn’t impressed!” family shared.  At the end of the night, Mr. Fulfer told the unimpressed young lady that she hadn’t been very nice–and so began their love story.
“No fairytale, but rather a real love story of 67 years of commitment, sticking together for better or worse, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part,” said her daughter, Devona Maillard.

Mr. Fulfer felt called to become a preacher, and after serving in World War II and finishing his undergraduate studies at Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, he and Mrs. Fulfer moved to Vaughn, New Mexico where he pastored his first church and she gave birth to their first child, Devona. They next moved to California where Mr. Fulfer attended seminary. Being a Texas plains girl, Mrs. Fulfer had never seen mountains, much less driven through them, and the trip across them terrified her. It was in California that their other 3 children, Sue, Craig and Sonia, were born.

Following their wedding date of January 29, 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Fulfer enjoyed many memorable celebrations of their marriage during their many years together. For their 25th anniversary, Mr. Fulfer threw a big dinner party, flying in special guests from out of town to surprise his unsuspecting wife. The special night was preceded by a 5-week dream-trip to Europe, which included visiting their oldest daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Germany. On their 40th anniversary, they renewed their wedding vows at their church in Pacheco, and they celebrated their 50th and 60th anniversaries in Maui with their children.

Though timid and fearful of many things, Mrs. Fulfer had a deep inner strength and, as a devout Christian, trusted God to help her through hard times. Despite being somewhat physically frail and legally blind, she was always the supportive pastor’s wife, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, cooking, entertaining, washing and ironing and making sure her husband was free to minister to his flock.
Family shared that Mrs. Fulfer had a love for people of every color and tongue and a passion for international mission work. After raising the children, she accompanied her husband on extended mission trips to Korea and South East Asia. But her greatest passion was being a nurturing mother to her children.

“Tender and patient, almost to a fault, she loved us more than life itself and sacrificed much to meet our needs,” said her daughter, Sonia May.

Mrs. Fulfer was gentle and smart and had a dry, quick wit. She rose above many of her fears and fell in love with traveling and learning new things. She had a compassionate heart and never hesitated to reach out to hurting people, providing any comfort and encouragement she could. The Fulfers provided a home for a Kenyan immigrant, Lydia Nyaggah, supporting and loving her as their own.
Probably due to shyness, Mrs. Fulfer wasn’t a woman who readily shared her deepest feelings. After her husband died, she didn’t talk about it much, but waking and sleeping she wore his wedding ring as well as a “Marriage Encounter” charm until she died exactly one year to the day after his death.
“My mom left a legacy of love and faith in Jesus to her children and grandchildren and many others who considered her their mom or grandma,” said Mrs. May.
Mrs. Fulfer is survived by her children and their spouses, Devona and Bill Maillard of Lakewood, Sue and Jim Frando of La Puente, Craig and Marlene Fulfer of Fontana and Sonia and Daniel May of Yorba Linda; and by her 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister and her husband.

A service was held yesterday, April 20, 2012 at Richfield Community Church in Yorba Linda. Interment followed at Riverside National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Pioneer Ministries at pioneers.org in the name of Mrs. Fulfer’s grandson and wife, Dan and Dalaina May (ministry acct. #110269) who serve as missionaries in Peru, or to any charity of choice.

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