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Mother of 2 sons killed weeks apart battles cancer while mourning

Ruby Dee Cobb Talks About Losing Sons To Gun Violence

Ruby Dee Cobb, mother of homicide victims Kenneth Holloway Jr. and Terry Cobb, battles pancreatic cancer while mourning their deaths.
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Ruby Dee Cobb, mother of homicide victims Kenneth Holloway Jr. and Terry Cobb, battles pancreatic cancer while mourning their deaths.

Ruby Dee Cobb, the mother of seven sons, lost two of her kids on the streets of Columbus this summer.

Her sixth son, Kenneth Holloway Jr., was shot to death on June 18 during an argument. His friend is now charged in the killing.

Two weeks later, Cobb’s fifth son, Terry Cobb, was gunned down the day before the Fourth of July. At the time of his death, he was being sought by authorities for a July 4, 2015, homicide.

Ruby Dee Cobb said it was devastating losing both sons just two weeks apart.

“The hardest part? I can’t see them when I want to see them,” she said during a recent interview with the Ledger-Enquirer. “Kenny used to come and knock on the door every morning with his kids. ... It’s just so hard.”

Now, in addition to mourning the loss of her two sons, Cobb said she is also battling pancreatic cancer, which responded well to chemotherapy before the deaths but has since become more aggressive.

“Before Kenny died they told me my cancer was gone,” she said. “I went and did a CT scan about a week ago and they told me that it came back. So now I’ve got to do radiation and chemo, but I’ll be fine with it. I’ll let the good Lord handle it like he handled the situation in the beginning.”

Some friends and extended family members are trying to drum up community support to help Cobb through the crisis. But Shirleen Blue-Banks, the grandmother of one of Kenny Holloway’s three daughters, said it’s been difficult getting the community to rally around Cobb because of the accusations against her son, Terry.

Blue-Banks said she approached one minister about helping the family and he didn’t want to get involved.

“...When it came to Ruby Dee and her sons being murdered, especially Terry, when they printed his rap sheet, it was just like a lot of people just didn’t extend the love you would think people would have for a mother who had, say, two sons in college that were killed,” she said.

Blue-Banks said Cobb is a grandmother who takes good care of her grandchildren, including a granddaughter with special needs.

“There are always so many children at her house, seemingly loving her very much, that’s what I’ve seen the times that I’ve visited her home,” she said. “That’s all I know of her, is just being sweet.”

Toya Winder is president of VOCAL, a local victims’ advocacy group that works with families impacted by crime. She said she doesn’t know Cobb personally and can only imagine the emotional trauma she has experienced.

Winder said it doesn’t matter what Cobb’s sons may have done in the past, she’s still a victim, and VOCAL exists for people like her.

“That lady lost two sons,” she said. “She birthed those children. No matter what they were doing, they’re her children and she’s grieving and she’s sick.”

If she could speak to Cobb personally, Winder said she would encourage her to seek help. She said VOCAL has a support group that meets 3-4 p.m. the second Saturday of the month at the Columbus Community Center.

“What people don’t realize when these things happen is how it affects victims,” she said. “It’s a domino effect. That’s one of the reasons why the support group is important. We call each other sisters and brothers because we have to go back and lean on each other.”

For Cobb, it’s especially painful. She said Holloway and Terry Cobb aren’t the first of her sons that she buried. In 1993, she lost another son in a fire at Wilson Apartments when he was just 6 months old.

Cobb said she didn’t think she would lose another son in her lifetime, and certainly not two.

On June 18, she was sitting at home when she learned of Holloway’s death. She said Torrance Menefee, the man charged with the shooting, is a family friend, which makes the death even more painful.

“I braid hair, and he came here every two weeks to get his hair braided,” she said. “Then he just got attached to our family. He was like, ‘I like your boys. They’re so respectable, you know. You’re like my second mom.’”

She said when one of her sons told her that Menefee was a suspect in Holloway’s killing, she couldn’t believe it because the two men had just been drinking together at the house, she said. A woman drove her to 17th Street and Cusseta Road, where the incident occurred. When she arrived, police wouldn’t let her near the crime scene. Her son was just lying there, motionless.

Cobb said Terry Cobb was devastated when he learned of his brother’s death and wanted to attend the funeral, which was held June 25 at Words of Wisdom Christian Center. He couldn’t go because he was wanted by police for the shooting death of Blake Berry.

“They said Terry shot him, but my son didn’t shoot him,” Cobb said. “My sons don’t carry no guns. They don’t do that. They just like to party and have a good time.”

The night of Holloway’s funeral, Terry Cobb showed up at her house, she said. When she told him he was not supposed to be there, he said, “‘Well, Mom, that’s my brother. You told me to look after my baby brothers.’

“Then Terry went back to wherever he was and came back the Saturday before the Fourth,” she continued. “Someone told me he was coming. ... I looked out the window, and sure enough he was out there.”

Cobb said Terry Cobb told her that he loved her, and he was ready to turn himself in to police. He gave her some money and promised to return the next day, but he never made it back.

“Before I went to sleep, I had this sharp pain go through my body,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was. Next morning at daybreak, Kenny’s wife came over here and said, ‘Buddy called me.’”

“And I’m like, ‘Who is Buddy?’ She said, ‘From the morgue.’”

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter

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