Nedra Ruffin, daughter of the Temptations’ David Ruffin, dies from COVID-19

Nedra was one of the late Motown icon's three daughters with his wife

Nedra Ruffin, daughter of Temptations legend David Ruffin passed away on May 19 from COVID-19 complications. The 58-year-old Detroiter was admitted to Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oaks on Mother’s Day after facing health challenges in recent years.

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Ruffin fell ill after a recent trip to Las Vegas, the Detroit Free Press reports. 

“We were always known as twins coming up,” said Ruffin’s sister, Cheryl Ruffin-Robinson. “I’m going to miss her loving, giving ways. She gave so much of herself to others. And I’m going to miss our get-togethers.”

L-R: Nedra Ruffin, Kimberly Ruffin Jones and Cheryl Ruffin Robinson (Gina Ruffin Moore, via Detroit Free Press)

Nedra Ruffin’s father, David Ruffin, sang lead for the Temptations in the 60s and went solo in the 1970s. He passed away tragically from a drug overdose in 1991 when Nedra was 27.

She told Ask The Messengers in 2018 that she’d also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction but got clean 18 months after her father passed away.

Ruffin has two sisters, Cheryl Ruffin-Robinson and Kimberly Ruffin Jones, who the singer had with his wife, Sandra, and a brother, David Ruffin Jr. Throughout her life, Ruffin worked as a model, bartender, hospice caretaker, and a ballroom dance teacher, the Detroit Free Press reports. 

“Very sad news. @thetemptations is 1 of my fav old skool groups, & I love the voice of her dad & former Temps lead singer #DavidRuffin,” wrote one fan who shared condolences on Twitter. “I saw the @tvonetv #Unsung episode of Mr Ruffin feat Ms Nedra & was struck by her love for her father. Condolences to the family. RIP Ms Ruffin”. 

Ruffin was a key player in getting the street where her father’s Detroit home is located renamed ‘David Ruffin Avenue’ in 2019, according to Lamont Robinson, founder of the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. 

At the time, Robinson, who is married to Ruffin’s sister Cheryl, told the Michigan Chronicle the renaming was about honoring local history and Detroit’s contributions to R&B and soul music.

“I’ve always been a Temptations fan, so I thought it was the right thing to do and name the street after David Ruffin,” said Robinson. “He moved on the block 50 years ago and he loved it so much. It was fitting to honor one of the greatest singers of R&B music. I’d like to thank Mayor Duggan and the city for honoring my request, because more of our legends need to be honored.”

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he Temptations, mid-1960s. From left, Melvin Franklin (1942 – 1995), Paul Williams (1939 – 1973), Eddie Kendricks (1939 – 1992), David Ruffin (1941 – 1991), and Otis Williams. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Last week, the organization shared condolences in a tweet saying, “Rest in peace to Nedra Ruffin, daughter of the legendary David Ruffin of The Temptations from the Rhythm and Blues Preservation Society.” 

As theGrio previously reported, former Temptations lead singer Bruce Williamson also passed away from COVID-19 in September 2020. Williamson joined The Temptations in 2006 and performed with the group until 2015, singing lead on their Back to the Front, and Still Here, albums. 

Ruffin’s obituary in the Detroit Free Press says that she’s survived by her mother, Sandra Ruffin, a son, Clifford Pearson, and two daughters, Terea Frazier and DeAiress Frazier.

You can watch a clip of Nedra Ruffin talking about her father on Unsung below:

TheGrio’s Stepanie Guerilus contributed to this report.

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