December 25, 1928 ~ May 17, 2022

Born in: Mitchell County, NC
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Asheville – Ruby Stewart Cairnes, age 93, passed away peacefully after a long life well-lived.

Ruby was born on Christmas Day in 1928 in Penland, Mitchell County. She led an enchanted childhood with loving parents, Fred and Annie Stewart and her older sister, Louise “Bow” who all predeceased her. Throughout her life, her church was central. She loved music and was caring, loyal, benevolent, feisty, quick-witted and a whiz with numbers. She kept meticulous records and wrote thousands of letters. Ruby loved her family and her dogs fervently.

She attended Cecil’s Business College in Asheville and lived on Biltmore Estate as a nanny. Ruby met a fellow Christmas baby, Fred Miller Cairnes who courted her on the grounds of Biltmore. They were married for 62 years until Fred’s passing in 2013.

Ruby had a 30-year career with Grove Stone & Sand Co. as office manager. She was an astute business woman and enjoyed driving her always shiny clean car to the “best job in the world”.

Ruby and Fred adored their nieces and nephews who were loved as their own, often staying with them for summers or even longer. After 22 years of marriage they had a daughter, Sharon, to whom Ruby was a devoted mother and they shared a strong loving relationship.

She retired at 50, helped Fred in his commercial HVAC business, volunteered for community service organizations, and served as volunteer caregiver to several family friends. She typically had a car full of teens and Sharon’s friends were close with Ruby. She was thrilled when Stuart and Sharon were married, and she enjoyed many Sunday afternoons with Stuart being generous with his time and driving her back to her childhood home. They took many day trips together through the mountains.

The greatest highlight of her life was becoming Grandmommy to her cherished Isla Kate. Together they would play the piano, make banana pudding and loved playing Chinese Checkers.

She is survived by her daughter, Sharon Cairnes Craig and husband Stuart, and her granddaughter, Isla Kate Craig. She will be fondly remembered by close nieces and nephews: James Sullins (Cheryl), Gloria Sullins Hollified (Milton), Van Sullins (Ann), Cindy Sullins Byrd (Sam), Darlene Sullins Schleider (Theo), Phyllis Cairnes (Rolla Wade), Linda Cairnes, Valerie Cairnes McMahan (Martin), Pamela Cairnes and Angela Cairnes.

Ruby’s family would like to thank the Brooks-Howell Home team who showered her with affection.

Ruby’s Celebration of Life will be on Monday, May 23 at 2:00pm, officiated by Rev. Milton Hollifield, Jr. at Beverly Hills Baptist Church where Ruby has been a member for 60 years. The family will receive friends at 1:00pm. A private interment will follow the service at Mountain View Memorial Park in Black Mountain.

Groce Funeral Home on Tunnel Road is assisting the family.


Celebration of Life: May 23, 2022 2:00 pm

Beverly Hills Baptist Church
777 Tunnel Rd.
Asheville, NC 28805


Visitation: May 23, 2022 1:00 pm

Beverly Hills Baptist Church
777 Tunnel Rd.
Asheville, NC 28805


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home on Tunnel Road
856 Tunnel Rd.
Asheville, NC 28805


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  1. Sharon, your mom enchanted me from the moment I met her while waiting to pick up Isla Kate from daycare. She was truly a class act and a very special person. She showed Maddalena so much love that even Maddalena felt like Ruby was her Grandmommy. Our thoughts are with you, Isla Kate and Stuart.

  2. Aunt Ruby deeply loved me and my children. She took us to many fun places, showered us with money, birthday and Christmas gifts and anything else we needed. She called weekly to see how everyone was doing. Always consistent with attention to our lives. Her little doggies were just as important and loved as we were. She invited us to her home for birthday celebrations and all holidays. The little ones dressed up at Christmas for the nativity play which always thrilled the adults. The Ponderosa was another highlight Aunt Ruby provided for special occasions. She was our rock!!

  3. Sharon, Harold and I were so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. She was such a lovely person with a fierce love for her family. Isla Kate was her sunshine. Our thoughts are with you, Stuart and Isla Kate.

  4. A shining light has left us and all the Marshalls are saddened but Ruby knew her Savior and beholds His face now forever. As our longtime neighbor, friend and encourager, we will dearly miss her loving, thoughtful ways and cheerful smile. My heart is heavy – Susan for all Marshalls

  5. Sharon, I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your mum. Although I only met Ruby once she was kind and welcoming. She impressed me as a lovely lady who was a bit of a character with a zest for life.
    You, Stuart and Isla Kate are in my thoughts.

  6. Phyllis,
    So sorry for your loss! I remember Ruby fondly and enjoyed visiting you while you lived with her and Fred during our high school years. God bless! Terry Eller Parker

  7. Sharon,

    Fiona the children and myself are so sorry for your loss. Although we only met your mum once she was kind and welcomed us her into her home. She impressed on us that she loved her family dearly and had a real zest for life. Our thoughts are with you, Stuart and Isla Kate at this time.

    Paul, Fiona, Jack, Ellie and Oliver

  8. Lisa (Fender) Cunningham .
    Sharon, you know what a big part of our lives Ruby was. She was like family. I will be forever grateful to her for caring for Nina…
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  9. I never met her, but Ruby must have been a wonderful woman and mother to have produced and raised such an intelligent, thoughtful, and beautiful daughter like Sharon. Ruby’s light and legacy lives on through her daughter and granddaughter. What a gift to the world.

  10. Sharon,
    Your mom sounds like she was such a wonderful lady. The tribute was beautifully written. Please know we are thinking of you and your family. – Donna and Michelle

  11. Sharon, I just heard of your mother’s passing and am so sorry to hear it. I have so many sweet memories of your mother and know you were the light of her world. Losing a mother is never easy at any age and you and your family are in my thoughts. Sending you peace. ~Melodie


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