Barbara Ruffels, long time partner of Balmain RC Life Member, Allen Turner sadly passed away on Thursday 4 July. Barbara spent much time at the Club, assisting in any way she could. She was a wonderful person.
Barbara Dawn Clemence came into the world on the 21st September 1940, 20 minutes before her twin sister Lynette; daughter of Muriel and Ronald Clemence at Bundaberg, Queensland. She had beautiful parents and considered herself very blessed for an upbringing filled with much love and protection. Her family lived near the coast and were fortunate to have many holidays at the seaside.
Tennis was her favourite sport and when she was not on a tennis court she and her sisters were often found in the backyard hitting a tennis ball. Barbara also enjoyed playing basketball and walking on stilts to name a few activities.
Barb took piano and singing lessons during her scholarship years and was the member of a school choir which won an Australian championship. She also loved spelling and words. She would enter spelling bees and do very well. Her dream job would have been an ‘editor’.
Barb was a very good scholar and excelled in English, History and Maths. In high school she excelled in all the commercial subjects, especially shorthand and typing. She joined a Solicitors Firm at the age of 16, and was a Personal Assistant to a Criminal Solicitor.
It was such a thrill for Barb, when, after having prepared one particular brief , presided over by Sir Garfield Barwick, Q.C., a message came back to Barb via her Boss that ‘if ever she moved to Brisbane, she had a job with him”. High praise indeed. In her later teens she was very involved with the Queensland CWA Younger set and during her time as president, was introduced to Lady Slim during an official visit to Bundaberg. That was a thrill for her.
Barb’s Dad, Ron was heavily involved rowing and speedboat racing. He was senior coach at the Bundaberg Rowing Club and coached and coxed the club eight to win the Queensland State and the Kings Cup Championship of Australia.
In those days radio and newspaper were the means of broadcasting local news to the people of Bundaberg. Every Friday night Barb and her Dad would read over the airways, the past, present and upcoming events of the Bundaberg Rowing Club and Powerboat Club. Afterwards the reports would be inserted into the local paper for the next day edition.
Barb’s Dad owned a speedboat and she and her two sisters would often take turns at the wheel and cheer him on in when he was racing. When speedboat licences were introduced, Barb was the first women in Queensland to get a licence.
Both Barb’s sisters were married by this time and nephews and nieces were entering her world. No nephews or nieces could have had a more doting, loving and generous Aunty. She loved spending time with them and travelled to see them where ever they were in Australia as both Dads were in the RAAF. And in return, the children though the world of her. It was a mutual admiration.
On January 23rd Barb married Owen Ruffels and went to live in Sydney. They met through the rowing world while Owen was in Bundaberg conducting rowing and coaching courses. Owen was some 18 years Barb’s senior and had open heart surgery before they married. Towards the end of his life Barb gave up work to nurse him until he passed away on 16th January 1984.
After Owen had gone, Barb returned to work and got a job with Reliance Automotive. She then moved to GME Electrophone which supplied marine radios and equipment, where she worked for 24 years as secretary to the CEO until her retirement 10 years ago. She loved her work and the people she worked with and remained in close contact with colleges from GME until her health declined.
Allen Turner came into Barb's life and the rest is history. They were companions for 30 Years. Over the past 12 months that Barb’s health was declining Allen was her constant carer.
Barb was a very compassionate and loving person who would never do anyone a bad turn. She was the baby of the small elderly community in Short Street. The thoughtful things she did for people was amazing. She would do their shopping, mowing, gardening, wash their cars and cook the odd meal. The list was endless. The landlord lived next door. In his later years, both Barb and Allen did so much for him, way beyond the call of neighbours. When he passed away Barb and Allen moved to Maraylya in 2015.
Animals were Barb’s passion. She and Allen were always rescuing them. There were times she would even pay vet bills for families who could not afford it. A great variety of birds would come into her garden and she loved to feed them, until they started to come in swarms and she had to stop.
The light of her life was Bliss, her German shepherd then came Kingstone, the dalmation. She was also very dedicated to her family, and her devotion to her Mum and Dad was extraordinary. Barb had a wonderful sense of humour. She loved telling and listening to jokes. Laughter was a tonic to her. She had quite an infectious laugh and one could not help but laugh with her.
Barb really loved living in Maraylya, a quiet rural suburb 10K out of Windsor and living next to a national park there was plenty of wild life around to enjoy. Barb would often help with the chores around the property and the work shop.
Barbara’s first diagnosis for cancer was in 1999. By 2009 she thought she was in the clear, but it surfaced again. Barbara's strength and determination with the help of her very good friend and oncologist, Professor Fran Boyle and specialist doctors kept the cancer at bay for a further 10 years until her death.
Barbara will always be remembered for her beautiful and caring nature. We shall miss her very much.