Remembering Joe Riccardi
On January 29, 2021, the world lost a friend, father, husband and an all around fun-loving, caring and giving man; Joseph Jude Riccardi; better known to all simply as Joe. Here we present to you a collection of memories from friends and loved ones in the Bocas del Toro community, for their words can best paint the picture of the type of man Joe Riccardi was.
Sharing Craftsmanship with the Kids
My name is Delmira Brueggemann and I am the co-owner and teacher at Tangerine International School. As many of you know, Joe had made an impact in many of our lives, this even expanded to the young people in Bocas del Toro. Joe was Tangerine’s first “Micro-community,” teacher who taught our students woodworking skills,creativity and the overall art of building.
Every Friday afternoon, Joe would come to Tangerine to help the students with the first project, which encompassed many areas of building and painting their first birdhouse. Joe did not only volunteer his time and materials to this project, but his love as well. He quickly evolved from being a woodshop teacher to being a surrogate grandfather to many of our students. Students were always very excited for “Mr. Joe” to come every Friday. The second project that Joe asked the students to build was a treasure box, he wanted each child to store their special items and cherish their craftsmanship.
I knew volunteering for 20 students took a lot of patience, prep time, and insight, however Joe’s passion to teach the students a trade was very important. Mr. Joe will always be remembered for his gentleness, his compassion, and generosity.
– Delmira Brueggemann
A Neighbor’s Point of View (and a Bottle of Scotch, Too)
I met Joe and Maryann at the old Buena Vista during a meeting for the Spay and Neuter clinic. I knew then I had to have them as friends. Such cool energy doesn’t come along very often. When I found out they were to be my neighbors, Hunter and I jumped in to help them get settled next door.
I would always tease Joe and say, I know when you get up, because I could hear him blow his nose. Seems to be a man thing. During our times as neighbors I had my dog Joaquin. Joe loved Joaquin. When I went out, I’d close my gate, and at the time, Joaquin would be out making his rounds. Joaquin knew to go to Joe to let him know he was home and wanted in. Joe would walk downstairs over to my house and let Joaquin in. I finally gave Joe a remote for the gate.
When they had to move I helped again. However, this was a sad move. I loved both of them and knew I was safe with Joe next door. As time passed we drifted apart. I missed their company so last year, I said -enough is enough- and they started coming over for dinner. We reunited and would watch the debate together. I won’t get into our childish behavior. It was perfect.
In closing, my favorite night was when they came over and I said- he,y do you like Scotch? I have this bottle. Joe’s eyes bulged out and he said yes. Quite a lot was consumed that night but what was left was forevermore my friend Joe’s.
Life is unfair at times and I think the hardest part for me was he had to leave his soulmate behind. And that makes me hurt the most. For now Farewell my friend and I promise I’ll watch over Maryann for you. I love you Joe.
– Sandi Hodge
Anonymous Prose From…Who Knows?
Nothing rhymes with raspberry, the word stands alone.
I suppose a lot like my friend Joe, singular one-of-a-kind, an original.
Not necessarily likable at first sight, in fact I always thought his head was a little too large.
But if he was fortunate enough to marry Maryann, then perhaps his head deserved the privilege.
He was lucky by choice, and even after an explanation of what he was up to I was often more baffled than before he started.
Why was a mystery to me, but sure as hell there was always a plan, and a successful arrival at its destination.
He was a good friend to many, and with me on so many occasions stepped in with a helping hand or a kind word.
When it came to projects he approached it as he did with all aspects of his life, fully and without embarrassment.
Of course he made mistakes, in retrospect mostly laughable, but everyone a teaching moment, or a learning one.
And I learned a great deal from him, and was blessed to know him.
The relationship we had wasn’t filled with great insights, but it was rich with the small moments, sometimes framed by a few shared words.
But more often than not only a knowing look accompanied by his beautiful smile.
He will be greatly missed.
A Silent Badge of Honor
Saturday Feb. 7th, 2021
Last night at around 12:30 I noticed my phone was lit up with a message. Of the hundreds of people Joe’s Riccardi’s life had touched I was beaming with pride that Maryann was asking me to say some words at his passing. God bless that woman, she quietly recognized the relationship we had.
As I sat there at the edge of the bed recovering from a deep sense of being humbled, I was suddenly overcome by a certain panic… “oh no, what will I say”? I have wondered when it would come. Later that night the sobering reality of Joe’s passing finally hit me. Lying there with the tears running down the sides of my face, I had my answer… “Nothing”. There was nothing to say.
When you are someone who cherishes your family. When you are someone who selflessly gives to another less fortunate. When you are someone people look up to and trust. When you wear a badge of honor on your sleeve for the world to see… it is unspoken.
A wink, a nod, a smile. The mutual respect we shared needed no words. Like Joe and Ma, we live our lives as full as possible, without fear. I do not have a lot of regrets. But surely I will carry this one to my own grave. Not spending enough time. Not being allowed more time to sit with my brother and learn from him how to be a better man. Toes in the water… ass in the sand. Save me a seat my friend for we shall meet again… but not yet, not… yet.
Oh, and by the way Joe, do not worry too much about Maryann. We will love and care for her just as you did, Godspeed my friend… I love ya brotha! Will ❤️✌️
– Will Poole
Last, but Not Least: Words From His Other Half, Maryann
Joe Riccardi passed January 29th when that giant heart of his quit beating.
Joe started working in a hardware store in Ohio when he was 12 years old. He learned a lot working in that old hardware store and that put him on the path to his life’s work. He started his own construction business specializing in remodel and rehab. He had a gift for restoring homes built in the early 1900s. We moved to California in 2004 and he continued in construction management until moving to beautiful Bocas in 2016.
He knew so much about electric, building, plumbing, locksmithing, woodworking. He could do anything! He was the guy friends called for fix-it help and advice. Joe really enjoyed helping people and sharing his knowledge.
He would help and just be friendly to people he didn’t know as well. When he would see the tree trimmers, surveyors or any maintenance crew working in front of the house he would take them cold drinks and snacks. If someone’s car or truck was stuck or broken down he would do what he could to get them out. I can’t even count how many chains he put back on bicycles.
Joe made friends everywhere. So many wonderful friends. He definitely had the “gift of gab” and could talk to anybody about anything. He was the life of the party! He had a crazy sense of humor and was never shy about playing the fool to make people laugh. He was a great storyteller. You could hear the same story 10 times and still laugh. He was that funny. He was so full of life and love.
Watching the surfers in front of the house gave him so much joy. Joe never surfed but he really admired their skills and the beautiful waves. He was working on his photography techniques and must have over 4000 pictures.
Joe loved his Bocas family. He always said he made more friends here in the first month than he had in 12 years living in California. And he had a lot of good friends there. Moving to Bocas and being a part of this community was the best decision we ever made.
– Maryann Moore
Rest in Peace, Joe. Your friends and loved ones in the Bocas del Toro community will miss you, but never forget you.
Photo memories of Joe Riccardi