Ruth Kuhnel

Ruth Ellen Kuhnel (Duvall)

Sunday, April 29th, 1962 - Saturday, May 2nd, 2020
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On 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, 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

Arrangements for Mrs. Kuhnel have been entrusted to John M. Oakey & Son Funeral Home in Salem, VA and Waller Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Oxford, MS.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    St. Peters Cemetery
    Address Not Available
    Oxford, Mississippi
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence
Keith Moore sent flowers to the family of Ruth Ellen Kuhnel (Duvall).
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Vicki Stauffer

Posted at 06:59pm
Condolences to Paul from Vicki and Bob Stauffer. I admired Ruth Ellen from the time I met her in The Junior League. Bob and I always enjoyed seeing the 2 of you out and about. We always said we should get together, and I regret that I didn’t get the chance to get to know her better. You two were the loveliest couple, and we are feeling for you and your son during this hard time.

kathleen oddo

Posted at 06:00pm
The first time I met Ruth Ellen was in front of the campus apartments at W&L in 1985. W&L had paired us together during my visit, and Ruth Ellen graciously showed me around the law school and shared stories with me of our alma mater, Ole Miss. I hold that moment dear, as I do so many others that have spanned our 35-year friendship. Ruth Ellen was a true and dear friend, not only to me but to so many others. She was so proud of Wilson, and her love for Paul could not have been stronger or more true. While it's impossible to make sense of her illness or our Lord's plan, I know that she felt the blessing of a life that was filled with love and joy. Paul, Wilson, and family, please know that we are thinking of you all, and praying that you might find comfort and peace during the difficult days ahead. With our deepest sympathy, Kevin and Kathleen Oddo

Joyce Earl

Posted at 03:14pm
To forever remember and honor Ruth Ellen's zest for life. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Ruth Kuhnel — Plant a Tree Now

Keith Moore

Posted at 10:34am
Sorry for your loss. From Keith Moore and everyone at Cranwell and Moore.
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Keith Moore purchased flowers and planted a memorial tree for the family of Ruth Kuhnel. Send Flowers


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