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Samuel R. Ricci
Recognized as a Legend of Port Norris on November 3, 2018
Presentations given on November 3, 2018
Hello everyone. My name is Richard Ricci and I'm the son of Sam Ricci. I would like to thank everyone involved here this afternoon for baving my father Sam and his brother Tony recognized as legends of Port Norris. Now for any of you who can remember my father Sam, you would know that he was a very humble man. He avoided the spotlight and any form of recognition. In fact, if he were ·here this afternoon he'd probably ask if this was really necessary.
Yes, we lost him early in life, but he left a mark for all of us to measure up to. The one thing that I remember the most about my father was that he had a good moral compass and was well liked by everyone he met. He had no enemies, he treated everyone with respect, never causing bad blood with anyone. And he never minced words. He would look you straight in the eye and as the old saying goes, he meant what he said and said what he meant.
And along with that good moral code he had a little bit of a temper. But he always got upset for the right reasons. My father didn't like injustice or lazy people. And he· had an uncanny ability to spot a phony a mile away. My father also had a big heart. If a person were down on their luck, he would be the first to reach for his wallet.
Sam was a character who loved to hunt, fish, and play poker. I can attest to that As a young boy I spent many Saturday afternoons in Paul Hoffmans Pool Hall with pockets full of candy in order to buy my silence. You see, my mother and sister would go shopping and she left instructions for my father to watch me while they were gone. But my Dad had other plans. As soon as they left, he put down the newspaper he was reading, threw me in the truck and went down to the Pool hall for a friendly game of poker. After several hours passed, he threw me back in the truck and we quickly headed home. He got back in his chair and with a smile on his face he picked up the newspaper just as my mother and sister pulled into the driveway none the wiser. And I learned real quick that if I talked my candy supply would be cut off.
As my sister said, my father was very close to his brother.
They worked side by side and never had an argument. Unless, they were playing poker. Having come thru a depression they knew what it was like to go without, work hard, and make do with what they had. Everything was repurposed, nuts, bolts ,nails, lumber.... Nothing was thrown away.
When times got tough they would just work through it. They never complained. Failure was not an option. But hard work was a given. With only a grade school education, they built their business up and became successful. As they were working, I'm sure they never gave a thought to leaving a legacy, but that's just what they did. We learned many valuable lessons that you couldn't get from a book. They led us by example and we are all better off for it.
ThankYou, Richard A. Ricci
Good afternoon, my name is Patty Ricci Fleetwood and I am the daughter of Sam Ricci. My brother Richard and I thank the Port Norr.is Historical Society for this opportunity to honor and remember our father tn such a special way. He was not a man to seek attention, but I think he would be proud if he were here. today.
Our father was born in Port Norris in 1913, the youngest and last child .of Italian immigrants Salvatore and Pasqualina Ricci. He never knew his father, as Grandpop Ricci met an accidental death at the young age of 40. And I think that, although his step-father was a kind and loving man from what we’ve been told, Daddy developed a lifelong bond with his older brother “Tony.” After all, they were the only boys in a family with six daughters! They had to stick together!
And it if seems like I am talking about both of them and not just my father, I am, because it is almost impossible to speak of one without the other ... they were together almost every day of their lives until death parted them.
Life was very hard for Sam and Tony and heir sisters the children of immigrants the cultural, language and.religious barriers were very formidable obsticles to overcome.
But they did overcome and. they grew into fine men who were hard workers dedicated husbands and fathers. Their work ethic was the same strong cornerstone that it was for many of their generation if you don’t work ... you don’t eat. lt was as simple as that Sam and Tony ran a very successful farming operation for decades, providing work for many in the Port Norris area ... many hands were needed when it was time to plant, harvest, pack and ready the crops for market.
When sand and stone was discovered under their farmland ... there was much discussion, I can tell you, about whether to take the risk of starting a sand-mining .business. Sam was ready to go .... l think Uncle Tony took a little more convincing ... but they finally took the plunge. I remember our father farming during the day and bulldozing woods and brush at night as they cleared and prepared the plant site.
It was at this time that the long hours and strain of running one business and starting up a brand new one took its toll on our father ... he was struck down by a life-threatening massive coronary at the age of 48.
I think after three months in bed, flat on his back, he had plenty of time to think about whether they should continue their new venture, and although it slowed him down, it didn’t change his mind about plunging ahead. And once again, together, the Ricci Brothers established a successful business in an entirely new field that they knew very little about; but they were determined and they learned and forged ahead, again providing jobs for local citizens.
Daddy loved the outdoors ... hunting and fishing were a very large part of his life, and his brother’s,· and as the family grew and a new generation of outdoorsmen emerged, the Ricci Bros. Gunning Club was born in 1969.
These brothers always worked in tandem ... yoked together their entire lives but never minding that yoke ... as the song says ... “he ain’t heavy·, he’s my brother.” They took care of their families, their businesses and each other for the span of their entire lives.
Sam and Tony weren’t famous·or rich, they weren’t “movers and shakers,” and they lived quiet lives, but they were very much a part or the small-town life in Port Norris. It was home ... they chose to live, work· and worship in that wonderful place.
Richard and I dearly miss our father ... we lost him too young ... but he left us with wonderful memories, a strong set of values to live by and an unfailing love for our own families.
He was a character all right, but he had a quietly positive influence on those who really knew him ... he was quite a man.
Daughter, Patty Ricci Fleetwood
Sam Ricci 1933
Tony and Sam Ricci 1951
Son Richard Ricci and daughter Pat Ricci Fleetwood