Friday, May 27, 2011

A little about Pop

The wound is still fresh. Scarcely, scabbed over with God’s salve. My own grandfather passed away April 30, 2009 and a few short months later I met Pop, Joseph’s grandfather.

Pop passed away last night, in the presence of his wife, Nonny. It was a swift and peaceful death, no suffering or prolonged hospital stays.

 Joseph always echoed, “I wish you knew Pop when”. When he would take them to Clemson games, take them fishing. When he would whistle “How Great Thou Art” in the car with his own unique arrangement.

But I feel lucky to have known him at all, to have spent two years getting to know him and his lovely bride, Nonny. What I know of him is only a pinprick in his life.

I know on June 1, 1952, he married his wife, Maxine. Together, they raised four children together and were married almost 59 years. (Next week would have been their 59th anniversary).

He was the former director of Charleston County Mental Health Clinic, Deputy Commissioner for S.C. Dept. of Mental Health for Community Mental Health Services for 15 years. During his tenure the number of Community Mental Health Centers increased from one to seventeen. He served as Psychiatric Services Chief for TriCounty Mental Health Center in Bennettsville, Director of the "Rose Center" at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, and Special Consultant for Medicare Certification Program for NIMH.

He  was a pioneer in the field of autism, receiving the "Professional of the Year" award from the National Society for Autistic Children in 1975. In 1981 the S.C. Society for Autistic Children named their award "Raymond E. Ackerman Professional of the Year". He was honored "Distinguished Life Fellow" by the American Psychiatric Association in 2003. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha (Honor Medical Society).

He was known for his love of Clemson football and his sweet tooth. Every time I visited, (sometimes sporting a USC Gamecock t-shirt, just to tease him a little) he would have a twinkle in his eye and friendly bantering would ensue. There was always a bowl of candy on the kitchen table (it was the good stuff…he had a hankering for Reece’s peanut buttercups and Twix bars).

I have many fond memories of him, besides the ones listed above. Sitting and listening to his stories (which is always the greatest thing an older person can give to a younger person), rubbing lotion on his legs when he was in the hospital, scratching and rubbing his back and my favorite…hearing him tell me how happy he was to have me in the family. Those words meant so much. He made me feel completely welcome and at home.

Another memory is the way he looked at Nonny. Their love story is one that will stand through time. It was rare, beautiful and a love that we all should try to achieve in our marriages and relationships.

It was a joy to see Nonny laugh amongst tears, last night, while stories were shared about Pop and it was utterly heartbreaking to see her hug him one last time as we left the hospital.

 I am sure I will edit this post as I gather more information about this awesome man, father and pop.


  1. Thank you. You brought tears to my eyes again. I need to write about him too, but haven't gathered the words yet....they'll come.

  2. They will. Take your time, the words help with healing and grieving :) At least for me.