Obituary – Lori Ruffin Newcomb
Lori Ruffin Newcomb was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 2, 1970, and died in Jackson, Mississippi, on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, at age 49, after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer.
Lori grew up at the Reservoir and graduated in 1988 from Northwest Rankin High School. She attended the University of Mississippi where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She received a degree in political science and economics from Ole Miss in 1992. While attending Ole Miss, she met her husband Chris, a native of Oxford and fellow Ole Miss alum. After graduation, Lori moved to Dallas, Texas where she was a regional manager for The Gap for two years. She and Chris married in 1994 and moved to Jackson. Lori then became a full-time homemaker and caretaker to their three children, Madison Ruffin Newcomb (24), Blair McAlister Newcomb (22), and Hayden Augustus Newcomb (20).
Lori and Chris raised their family in Jackson and became an active part of the community through Chris’s career as a successful restauranteur (co-founding both McAlister’s Deli and Newk’s Eatery restaurants) and through Lori’s volunteer work for various community organizations. She was a member of the Junior League of Jackson, serving as Placement Chairman and Co-Chairman of Mistletoe Marketplace Special Events. She was a past chairman of several philanthropic events including the Arthritis Foundation of Mississippi’s Jammin’ For Joints fundraiser, the ‘Tis the Season event supporting the Mississippi Society for Disabilities, and the Mississippi Children’s Museum’s inaugural Ignite the Night fundraiser. Lori also served in various volunteer roles for the Jackson Symphony League, the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, the Girl Scouts of America and the Debutante Mothers’ Club of Mississippi. She was a past chairman of the PAT, the parent and teacher organization at Jackson Preparatory School.
In early 2013, Lori was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. As was her way, Lori created good from the bad. In 2014, she and Chris started the Newk’s Cares initiative (www.newkscares.com), the philanthropic arm of Newk’s Eatery restaurants. Because ovarian cancer has non-specific symptoms and there is no specific detection test, it often goes undetected until it is advanced. Early detection can raise the survival rate to 90%. The goal of Newk’s Cares is to improve the rate of early diagnosis by funding research into ovarian cancer while also creating greater awareness about the early symptoms of the disease. Through Ovarian Cycle® Jackson events held in partnership with the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (“OCRA”), as well as in-store fundraising, Newk’s Cares has raised more than $1,000,000 for ovarian cancer research since its inception. In 2015, Lori was elected to the governing Board of Directors of the OCRA, the leading organization in the world fighting ovarian cancer from all fronts.
Lori was a longtime member of Christ United Methodist Church and was also active at Bellwether Church, both in Jackson. She indulged the passion for food that she and Chris shared through her travels with Chris and their children, as well as through her cooking club, the members of which became some of her dearest friends. Lori was also a loyal Ole Miss fan, attending many events and cheering on the Rebels as all three of her children attended school there.
Lori was preceded in death by her grandparents Thomas Chalmers Ruffin, Bennie Mae Carr Ruffin, Colonel Ellis Patrick Sylvester, and Beryle Roberts Sylvester, all of Jackson, Mississippi. She was also preceded in death by her aunt and uncle Joan Sylvester Ratliff and Dr. Julius Ratliff, of Jackson, and her uncle Dr. Bob Sylvester, of Tallahassee, Florida. She is survived by her husband of 25 years, Chris; daughter Madison, of Dallas, Texas; daughter Blair, of Oxford, Mississippi; and son Hayes, Jackson. She is also survived by her mother and father, Susan and Jerry Ruffin, of Ridgeland, Mississippi; her mother-in-law and father-in-law Emily and Dr. Don Newcomb, of Oxford; her brother-in-law, Neil Newcomb, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and many beloved aunts, uncles and cousins.
One of Lori’s greatest gifts was her ability to remain positive even when faced with significant adversity. She saw the good in life and in other people, even when things did not go her way. Her infectious smile and gracious hospitality will be missed intensely by more people than could possibly be mentioned.
The family would like to thank all of Lori’s health care providers for the excellent care she received during her six-year battle with cancer, especially Dr. Paul Seago, her oncologist, as well as Melanie Coker, Candace Powell, Jackie Clanton, Jennifer Boone and the entire fifth floor nursing team at St. Dominic Memorial Hospital.
Visitation was held Sunday, March 3, at Christ United Methodist Church from 4 p.m.to 6 p.m. and also on Monday, March 4, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The funeral service was at 1 pm at Christ United Methodist Church with the Reverend John Hugh Tate officiating.
Lori’s fight is not over. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to OCRA in Lori’s honor. A special link tied directly to donations made on behalf of Lori and Newk’s Cares has been set up: https://give.ocrahope.org/lorinewcomb.
You can read more about Lori’s Story and the symptoms of ovarian cancer at www.NewksCares.com. The family encourages you to share your memories and stories about Lori, her life and her positive impact via social media including the hashtag #TealForLori. These stories will help her legacy to live on and her mission to continue.