Ruby Woodburn Poe Profile Photo
1930 Ruby Woodburn Poe 2024

Ruby Woodburn Poe

October 30, 1930 — February 24, 2024

Dawson Springs

Ruby W. Poe, age 93, passed peacefully at his home, on Saturday, February 24, 2024.   He was born October 30, 1930, in Olney, Ky, to the late David Moody and Ollie Calvert Poe.   

Ruby was a 1948 graduate of Charleston High School and attended Western KY Teachers’ College, where he met the love of his life, Elaine Davis.  He began teaching in a one room school house in Daniel Boone, KY, lodging with the Boodalum Blain family and then at St Charles School.  He then entered the US Army, serving in Panama from 1952-1953. He had the privilege of riding the Battleship Valley Forge thru the Panama Canal.  After his military service, He married the late Elaine Davis in January of 1954. Deciding that “teaching” was not for him, he went to work for the Illinois Central Railroad, on the recommendation of George Quiggins. His first work for the railroad was at the Dawson Springs Train Station, where he had to learn to telegraph using Morse code.  He became a prolific telegrapher and worked his way up to a traveling train agent, where he gained great respect from his fellow railroaders.  As an operator, he was elected as local chairman for the union.  His education, attention to detail, fastidiousness; work ethic, and pleasant demeanor were noted by his supervisors. They soon made him Supervising Agent for the Kentucky Division.  The railroad, in order to trim costs, closed several agencies and implemented a program installing mobile Customer Service Agents for a specified territory.  The Company needed Ruby to train, audit, and guide the employees on this new endeavor.  Shortly after this was completed, the Illinois Central wanted to bring in computers.  This would change the way waybills and switch lists were prepared, and allow information to flow from one location to the next point.  Once again, he was tagged to be on the ground level training, guiding, and supervising.  He attended meeting in Chicago and the brass at headquarters were impressed by his ability and work ethic to get the job done.  They offered him a better position at headquarters; however; his first duty was to serve the Lord; second to provide for his family; the Railroad was third.  He never went to any other position that required moving.  Several years passed and the company began selling properties to other entities which would operate as a short line.  Ruby and other would work to make the transition as smooth as possible.  Also, the railroad expanded his territory; at one time or other, he covered areas from Fulton to Champaign, Fulton to Woodstock, the line to Indianapolis, the line to Kansas City, and the line to Birmingham, AL.  He was always auditing, training, and supervising from Monday through Friday, and usually in the office on Saturday.   In 1986 two entrepreneurs bought the Kentucky Division and formed what is currently the Paducah and Louisville Railway.  They made the announcement in February, and the operations began in August. Ruby loved getting involved with all the details and seeing this company get off the ground.  During this time, he provided guidance to many who were hired in this new company.  He was probable the most valuable because of his vast knowledge and willingness to help everyone who was putting forth effort.  One Saturday he received a call from a yard clerk, asking the question about performing a certain task.  He listened, then asked; “How long would it take you to do this?”  The answer was about 20-25 minutes.  Ruby’s response: “If you want 100% of the pay, do 100% of the work.” You’ve been on the phone for 18 minutes, if you hadn’t called, you would have been finished in the next two minutes. 

Ruby decided in November 1986 that he needed to spend more time at home; he took an operator position at Princeton second shift, where he finished his Railroad life.  We’ve heard it said that you catch a fish and have a meal, or you can teach a person to fish and have a lifetime skill. 

Ruby Woodburn Poe spent his career dedicated to the Illinois Central, Illinois Central Gulf and the Paducah and Louisville.  He retired in January 1991, after 42 years of service, never missing a day of work due to illness.  He gave everyone the utmost respect whether you were in a lowly or a very high position.  He was diligent in training, guiding, and supervising those of involved in tariff interpretations, application of charges, waybill and witching preparations, car distribution and many other railroad functions.  Physically he wasn’t a big man; however; this humble servant made giant contribution to those companies mentioned.  One man said, “It was an absolute privilege and pleasure to know and work with him.”    

After railroad retirement he went to work for the South Hopkins Water District, retiring after 25 years, with the same dedication he gave to the railroad.  He knew “every” water line, the size of the pipe and where every connection and hydrant were.  He was often kidded that his head stone would be a fire hydrant.

Ruby was a lifelong member of Adriel Baptist Church, serving there in many positions during his life, including Deacon for over 75 years.  He loved the Lord and the Church.  He was loved and respected by many, and touched many lives.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Elaine, on 11-14-2005, a beloved son-in -law, a great-great grandson, his parents and all of his siblings being 3 sisters and 2 brothers.   

He and Elaine had 4 children, whom he is survived by.  Elaine Charisse Knight, Randy (Sandi) Poe, Margaret (Ray) Purdy and Kim (Steve) Gilliam. He is survived by 6 grandchildren, Jessica, Chris, Taylor, Angel, Chele and Olivia, 15 great grandchildren and 5 great-great grandchildren.  He was loved and adored by all, and was affectionally known as “Papaw Poe”.   He is also survived by a host of cousins, nieces and nephews, a brother-in-law and a multitude of friends.

Services for Mr. Poe will be on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at Beshear Funeral Home in Dawson Springs.  Visitation starting at 11, with the funeral at 2 pm.

Officiating the services will be his Pastor of the last 20 years, Bro. David Frisby.

Pallbearers will be Chris Poe, Zack Skimehorn, Josh Franklin, Gauge Weatherwax, Jed Killough, and Patrick Bean.  Honorary Pallbearers will be, Jon Blalock, Billy Parrish, Jim Holloway, Bob Tucker and Ron Coats

Buriel will follow at McNeely Cemetery

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Gideons’, Door of Hope, DAPS, Hopkins County Food Bank, or Hopkins County Humane Society 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ruby Woodburn Poe, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, March 2, 2024

11:00am - 2:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, March 2, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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Saturday, March 2, 2024

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

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