Farewell Poppy

The Love of Food, 1941

On Sunday, January 6th, 2008 my grandfather, Honorico “Ric” Ciordia, known to many of us as Pop or Poppy, passed away. My grandfather was someone very special and dear to me. He had the perfect set of grandfatherly ways. He lifted me up in times of doubt and set me back on the path when it looked like I had wandered a bit too far. His beautiful mix between giving and discipline, listening and action, teaching and watching, was well played and beautiful.

My earliest memories of my grandfather are surrounded by lemon gumdrops. Riding with him in his old cadillac with a secret stash of the sweet and sour treats buried in the center console. He paced me on them but he seemed to always have them. Something about his consistency with this really made an impact on me.

Then came the [Georgia Bulldogs](http://www.georgiadogs.com/). Good ol’UGA. While he went and graduated from the University of Tennessee he had a real team spirit for Georgia. My grandfather and father deeply indoctrinated us into Georgia football. We knew all the fight songs, tales, went through their good streaks and bad. Those times were marvelous and until you experience large scale college football, the communion it provides you won’t quite understand it. Unfortunately UGA didn’t want me so my football spirit waned over the years.

As soon as I was able to reach his bar (which I now use for my elixir, espresso) he taught me how to make the perfect Scotch and water. No matter the time of day, no matter how many had come before Pop would ring out his drinking catch-phrase, “First to day!” followed by “Salud!“. From his home garden he raised his own grapes (among many other good veggies) and used his laboratory space (and assistants) to produce some very fine (very alcoholic) wine. My cousin Kristin McKnight wrote the following in 2003 to commemorate some of our early wine memories.

Poppy’s Wine

Down in his basement he did brew
That muscadine wine with a taste so true

Oh Oh that muscadine wine
Oh Oh made me feel so fine

Made with grapes on the government’s tab
We all know what you were doing in that lab

Oh Oh drinkin that muscadine wine
Oh Oh a great way to past the time

Well you drink with young ones, you drink it with old
No matter what your age the effects are ten-fold

If you were there in the early years, you get what I’m preaching
Because then it was in abundance and forever we were reaching

Oh Oh for that bottle of muscadine wine
Oh Oh hope I don’t get outta line

But who cares . . . Cuz I’m drinking that muscadine wine

The taste was so sweet, a nectar so fine,
It could only be . . . Poppy’s Wine!

— Kristin McKnight ‘03

I used to love being at his home in Griffin, Georgia. A classic ranch style house. He always kept a golf-cart for riding around his neighborhood or to the grocery store right down the street. The grandkids, myself included, used to wear that thing out whistling around the yard and street (sometimes on two wheels..). I’m surprised in hindsight we never got seriously injured. The only thing we walked away with (generally) was a lot of itching due to aging fiberglass frames.

His basement was a place I spent a lot of my time. It was filled with the artifacts of his travels, his hobbies (small boat replica’s, collecting, etc), his experiments, his slide reels and more. I could spend hours in a corner just exploring and thinking. Open another door, dig through another cubby, look through another volume of notes, it was amazing stuff.

He also collected wine labels which he would affix to the wall. As we came of age we would send him special labels from our own travels. The collection started small but over the years it grew to encompass two walls. I wish I had my own collection of pictures of this but my memory will have to serve.

Pensacola - 041406 - 71

While as he got older he faced more struggles and challenges than his body could keep up with I will always cherish the memories we had and work on not forgetting them. From the stories he told of being raised in Puerto Rico, to his time in the Navy, multiple birthdays, trips to far flung places. He was a brilliant man and lived in a world of good order. As I wrote this and went through piles of his life and the memories I have of him I cannot see a trace of regret. He was exposed to many facets of the world and seemed to have taken them in with vigor and determination. We should all be so lucky.

I am thankful to the times we had together and sad at the loss of not being able to have my future children know him. My wife tells me it is now my job to bring his experiences through me to our children. I think I can do that. At a family wedding a year or so ago the groom spoke of how we were where we were because of those that came before us. As I get older I see more of the collection of who I am by those who have been around me and am thankful for their contributed wisdom.

To my dear dear grandfather, Pop, I love you, I will miss you.


1920 – 2008

Dr. H. “Ric” Ciordia, 87, of Pensacola, FL, and formerly of Griffin, GA, died January 6, 2008. Dr. Ciordia was born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Survivors include his wife, Polly Pearson Ciordia; children, Dr. Richard H. (Page) Ciordia, of Pensacola, FL, and Cynthia (John) McKnight of St. Simons Island, GA. He was “Poppy” to his six grandchildren and two great-grandsons: Kristin McKnight of Edwards, CO; Melissa (Mike) Brant of Dublin, CA; Dr. David Johnson of Salisbury, MD; Elizabeth Johnson, Andy (Robin) Ciordia, and Catherine Ciordia, of Charlotte, NC; Cameron Lott of Dublin, CA; and Joey Ryan of Charlotte, NC.

He received his BA, MS and PhD degrees in Zoology from the University of Tennessee. He obtained a research grant from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1953 to study the effects of radiation on parasites and on parasitized animals. For 31 years he served as a Veterinary Parasitologist for the Agricultural Research Service, U.S.D.A., Georgia Experiment Station, Griffin, GA until his retirement in 1986. During his tenure there, he served as Adjunct Professor of Parasitology and as Professor Emeritus at The University of Georgia. He was the author of numerous scientific publications in his field. In 1997 he was honored by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists with the Distinguished Service Award in appreciation for outstanding service to the advancement of veterinary parasitology..

He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Navy. He was a member of the Elks Club of Griffin and a volunteer at the Medical Center Clinic in Pensacola.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to support his interests in education and classical music. Contributions may be made to: Arch Foundation, UGA Griffin Campus, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, GA 30223 or Friends of the Saenger, Attn: Renovation, P.O. Box 13666, Pensacola, FL 32591.

Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel in Pensacola with memorial service to begin at 6:00 p.m. A graveside service will be held at Westwood Gardens, Griffin, GA at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008.

The family of Honorico Ciordia wishes to give special thanks to the staff of Carpenter’s Creek Community, West Florida Hospital, The Haven, and Covenant Hospice for their compassion, kindness, and especially their appreciation of Ric’s humor. He could make everyone smile and laugh. First Today!

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