Patrick Francis Cioci

02/25/1932 - 03/17/2024


Obituary For Patrick Francis Cioci

When Patrick Cioci became a grandfather, he selected “Mudge” as his grandpa name, short for Curmudgeon - a perfect reflection of his playful humor and love of language. He may have aspired to be a Curmudgeon, but, in truth, was funny, generous, and loving in all his favorite roles of life - husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend. Pat died at age 92 on Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. His 20 year journey with dementia ended after contracting pneumonia and receiving palliative care for a week. His wife, children, son- and daughter-in-law, and grandchildren were bedside throughout.

Pat was born in Philadelphia to Italian immigrants and grew up in the East Falls neighborhood with his parents and sister Chris. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived within three blocks. He regaled us all with stories of watching his father crush grapes in the basement during wine making and playing in the Wissahickon Creek. The address of his childhood home was one of the very last facts the dementia took.

With the goal of getting his college education via the GI Bill, Pat enlisted in the Air Force, and served in Texas and Mississippi during the Korean War. It was during that time he learned to play bridge which became a favorite pastime. He attended Boston College and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, having become passionate about poetry - Yeats, Keats, Frost.

After a time teaching English at Central Bucks High School in Doylestown, PA, he joined LBJ’s War on Poverty to learn to work with inner-city youth through Project Cause in Carbondale, IL. It was there, sitting down at the bridge table, where he met and fell for Ruth Ann Magee. They were married later the same year, in December 1964. His mother-in-law was struck by his good looks “He looks like Omar Sharif!” His father-in-law said “He has a really good sense of humor. Perhaps a little too good.”

Pat continued to provide job training for young people through the Job Corps in southern Ohio and Illinois for 4 years. Pat and Ruth moved to St. Louis, Missouri with their 3-yr old daughter Pye in tow, and their son John was born there in 1969.

As a reflection of their shared love of art, Patrick and Ruth Ann founded Picture Mart, a custom framing shop in Kirkwood, MO in 1970. Ruth Ann stepped away to start a real estate career and Pat continued to own and operate Picture Mart for 30 years. He was known to spend 20 hours a day at the shop in the week before Christmas to have orders done on time, claiming the moniker “the picture martyr”. A passel of employees became good friends along the way. Customers expected his unvarnished opinion about style choices and that the radio would be tuned to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on Saturdays. He retired in 2000. It still operates, now in its 54th year.

Everyone who knew Pat, will remember him as generous, quick witted, hard-working. He leaned into what he enjoyed with passion and without apology. He loved art, travel, gold-leaf, poetry, words and word play, opera and Dave Brubek’s jazz quartet, red wine, peaches, ice-cream, sunsets and flowers.

To his young children, he became the “the tickle monster”, poking his finger in their bellies and asking “Am I ‘boring’ you?” The newspaper crossword puzzles were his territory. We spent many Christmases more engaged with the clever clues he put on the packaging than the gift inside.

We will remember long family weekend drives to walk in beautiful natural areas of Missouri and his stopping to photograph old barns. He became an ardent amateur gardener and landscaper, and grew the perfect white dahlias Pye carried in her wedding bouquet. After retirement he volunteered his passion through Forest Park Forever in St. Louis, MO. Even into his 90's, he was sweeping up acorns, weeding, raking leaves and checking out the flowers at both John and Pye's homes.

He and Ruth Ann traveled with dear friends and family as often as possible. He loved New Mexico, the west coast, Alaska, and was on an Amtrak train with friends at the moment of Y2K. He made many trips to Europe and met his Italian relatives in 2001 and again in 2005.

But really, he found beauty and wonder everywhere - from a chickadee at his feeder, to a well-turned phrase, or a toddler on the sidewalk - and this way of seeing the world he gifted to his kids and grandkids.

Pat adored being “Mudge” to his four grandchildren and was loved right back. He spoiled them mightily and enjoyed nothing more than exploring St. Louis sights and local parks with them. Ice-cream could be served multiple times a day.

Once the dementia progressed, Pat and Ruth Ann made the hard decision to leave friends and the city they loved to move to Minnesota to be closer to their children in Minnesota and Wisconsin. For a long time he enjoyed daily walks along the nearby parks, creek and lakes. Ruth Ann continued to provide devoted care for him daily.

The dementia robbed Patrick of a lot, but his love, kindness, generosity, and humor could not be taken.

Preceded in death by parents, father (Francesco Cioci) and mother (Maddalena Chicchi Cioci).

Survived by wife (Ruth Ann Cioci), children (John Cioci and daughter-in-law Jessica Drayton Cioci; Madalyn “Pye” Cioci and son-in-law Joseph Lazur), grandchildren (Jack Cioci, Will Cioci, Owen Lazur, and John “Jay” Lazur) and sister (Christina Cioci). Also survived by many cousins and extended family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Canzano, Italy.

Memorial service: Saturday, May 18, 11:00am at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum,

4947 W. Florissant Ave, St. Louis, Missouri, 63115

Donations to: The Alzheimer’s Association, Forest Park Forever, Children’s Surgery International, or your favorite charity.

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