Rufus Clarence Polk Sr. passed on Friday April 21, 2023, at the age of 84 in Springfield, MA. Rufus was a loving husband, father, father-in-law, brother, grandfather, uncle, cousin, and friend to many. Rufus was born on July 28, 1938, in Moultrie GA to Reverend Rufus J Polk and Leila Mae Wimes Polk. After graduation from Moultrie High School for Negro Youth, Rufus received a scholarship to attend Florida A & M University to study Architecture, Drama and Music.
Rufus married the love of his life, Vivian Ann Holloman in Macon GA where they lived until he was drafted to the United States Army in the fall of 1961; he was trained as a marksman and sharpshooter. Rufus, Vivian and their first born relocated to Brooklyn, New York after completing active and serving as a reservist. He was honorably discharged in 1967. Rufus worked in retail, sang at various venues, and started the singing group, Rufus and the Soultans. Rufus, Vivian and their three daughters moved to Springfield MA to continue growth of their family and pursue a new career. Once in Springfield, they welcomed the birth of their fourth and fifth offspring including the long-awaited son, Rufus Jr.
Rufus became a Master Machinist with Pratt and Whitney Aircraft/United Technologies Corporation where he worked for 34 years. Rufus retired in 2000 where he received a proclamation from Congressman Richard Neal for his service to the community. In addition to working for Pratt and Whitney, he became a master barber working with his brother and dear friend at the Polk and Murray Barber Parlor. For several decades Rufus had the pleasure of servicing thousands of men, women, and children. When the ‘shop’ closed, Rufus’ love for cutting hair continued and he decided to service some of his long-term customers from his home.
Rufus’ creativity showed through his love of photography and videography. He covered weddings, reunions for his Bolden Polk Ruffin Spradley Wimes (BPRSW) family club as well as other community events. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others and was a mentor and advisor to many young people. Rufus volunteered with Springfield Technical Community College teaching young students’ photography and video editing. He was known throughout Western MA for his gifted singing talent. He taught his children how to harmonize, and coached local community talents for various musical presentations. Rufus is known for his rendition of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’. Rufus was a devout Muslim. He loved discussing religion, and as a Muslim, he learned Arabic and was committed to helping the Masjid. Rufus was well versed in the Quran and the Bible and he enjoyed discussing religion with family and friends.
Rufus is survived by his children; Candyce Lindsay, (Tyrone), Treva Polk, Migyon Polk, Dominique Gilmer (Bryan), and Rufus Polk Jr (Kate); grandchildren, Terrance Lindsay, Bashir Polk, Aaron Gilmer, Alana Gilmer, Carter Lindsay, Amir Polk, and Vivian Polk. His siblings, Ruby Huewitt (Polk), 6 children, Martha B Tolbert (Polk), 4 children, Jimmy Polk Sr, 4 children, Annie Jay Gary (Polk), 12 children, Althea Walden Barrs (Gerald), 6 children.
Preceding Rufus in death was, his wife of 28 years, Vivian Ann Polk, his parents, Rufus J. Polk and Leila Mae Wimes Polk, brother Michael Walker, sister in-law Van Polk, brother in-law Ellis Huewitt, brother in-law Luther Gary. Rufus leaves a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends all over the country who love and will miss him dearly.
Rufus’ legacy of service, music and family will live on for generations to come.
Relatives and friends may call on Friday, May 5th from 10:30 – 11:30 AM followed by a funeral home service beginning at 11:30 AM at the Byron Keenan Funeral Home & Cremation Tribute Center, 1858 Allen Street, in Springfield. Burial and Military Honors will follow at 2:00 PM at the Massachusetts Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, 1390 Main Street, Agawam. For more info, please visit us at www.byronkeenan.com