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April 29, 1962 May 2, 2020 On Saturday, May 2, 2020, Ruth Ellen (Duvall) Kuhnel left this earth after a year-long battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer for which she had no risk factors. Ruth Ellen was born on April 29, 1962, in Oxford, Mississippi, the second child of Geraldine (Pankratz) and Howard G. Duvall Jr. She is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Teresa and David Flautt, also of Oxford; and two nephews, David and Jr. Duvall. Ruth Ellen graduated magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi, where she was a sister of Delta Delta Delta sorority. Throughout her life, she maintained great pride in the land, people, and literature of the state of Mississippi, and carried the warmth and humor of its citizens wherever she went. From there, Ruth Ellen went on to attend law school at Washington & Lee University, where she met the love of her life, and surviving husband of 31 years, Paul. Ruth Ellen's life after law school spanned motherhood, public service, community service, her church, and the joy of living. She leaves behind her son, William Wilson, of Washington, D.C., in whom she took great pride and offered constant love and guidance. Her varied career accomplishments included her serving initially as counsel to the Roanoke County/Salem Department of Social Services, then finished with her rise to County Attorney of Roanoke County. Her leadership was integral to the Junior League of the Roanoke Valley, where she served as a past President, and three years on the executive board of the local Susan B. Komen affiliate, where she met and enjoyed the benefit of many lifelong friends. Her spiritual life began at First Presbyterian Church in Oxford, MS, and after moving to Roanoke, she went on to join and then serve on the session of Second Presbyterian Church, where she also taught youth Sunday school. One of her more recent joys was the Mill Mountain Garden Club, whose members and fellowship helped take her mind of her diagnosis and ongoing treatment. Above all, Ruth Ellen was an expert on friendship. Her friends were drawn from all walks of life and if all could all be gathered in a room at one time, each would consider themselves her best. That is just the kind of person she was. Her family is especially grateful to all those friends, near and far, who contributed food, flowers, conversation, and most importantly, their love and prayers. They sustained her during many dark moments. Owing to current circumstances, there will be a memorial at Second Presbyterian at some point in the future. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a contribution in Ruth Ellen's name to Second Presbyterian Church. Online condolences may be sent to the family at


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Working with Ruth Ellen in the County Attorney's office was a pleasure to work with. Always smiling she had a great sense of humor and was extremely cool under pressure. Her Southern charm was endearing and she brought a lively presence to the office. Ruth Ellen will be missed by many.

lauren ellerman

Ruth Ellen was a smart, kind , brave woman who treated others with kindness and respect. I feel so grateful to have called her my friend. She will be missed. Paul and WIlson, I am so sorry for your pain.


A Wonderful Southern Lady that I was proud to know. Southern Ladies are like that.

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