James J. “Poppy” Scardino, a resident of Fuquay-Varina, NC passed away peacefully on September 13, 2022. Poppy was born in Rockford, IL on March 10, 1925, a first generation American whose parents, Ciro and Frances Sparacino (deceased), were Sicilian immigrants. Poppy had one brother, Dominic, who predeceased him in 1992. Poppy and “Uncle Nick” were raised in Queens, New York, where they lived until 1963. Poppy was married to Mary Ellen Brady, herself an Irish immigrant, from 1952 until her untimely death in 1986. They were loving parents to James Jr. (Mary Galvin) of Wellesley, MA, Michael (Katrinka Ruk) of El Sobrante, CA, Frances Wise (Steven Wise) of Galt, CA, Stephen (Patricia Hertenstein) of Fuquay-Varina, Philip (Teresa Griffin) of Needham, MA, and Nicholas of Honolulu, HI. Poppy leaves 14 grandchildren: Mary Brehm and Daniel, Joseph, James, and Steven Wise; Patrick Scardino; Frank, Brian and Katherine Scardino; Christine Wagner, Timothy and Dianne Scardino; Jennifer and Michael Scardino; and 11 great grandchildren: Michael, Genevieve, Charles, and Henry Brehm; Callahan and Kenna Scardino; Isabel and Theodore Scardino; Margo Scardino; Stephen Wagner; and Noah Scardino. Poppy was also a beloved uncle to Robert, Geraldine (Austin), Donald (deceased), William, Kathleen (Dietz), and Nancy (Ricci), and Paul and Louis Jug. Poppy was blessed with 26 years of marriage to Patricia Colton, who predeceased him in 2018.
From a very young age, Poppy fostered a love of aviation. He spent many a day at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY, and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps at age 17 in 1943. He was a proud member of the 446 Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force stationed in Flixton, East Anglia England until returning home aboard the HMS Queen Mary the summer after VE Day. Following service to his country, Poppy’s purpose in life was defined by faith and family. His long career in the Federal Aviation Agency was, for him, a means to “earn a living to support the family.” Career moves took the family from New York to Fort Lauderdale, FL to Cincinnati, OH to Cleveland, OH to Mountain View, CA within a period of less than 6 years. Throughout this odyssey, Poppy and Mary centered each relocation with a local parish and Catholic school. The children’s adjustments to new locales and people were made easier through the strength of their parents’ marriage and the constancy of the Church.
Poppy’s passion for technology made him a true Silicon Valley pioneer and founding member of the Home Brew Computer Club where he became a mentor to the very young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Saturday afternoons frequently found him in Job’s parents’ garage putting motherboards together for what were to be Apple prototypes. Poppy’s personal commitment to education was truly dogged. The GI Bill somehow eluded him, but ultimately in 1980, at the age of 55, he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Cogswell College in San Francisco, CA. His senior honors project was to create a digital altimeter for automobiles.
That Poppy always possessed a sharp and inquiring mind for things technical and historical was displayed for a final time just two days before his death when he ordered a book about the development of the stealth bomber. His library also reveals his love of baseball. He emphatically instilled a love of education and learning in his children and all who grew close to him. But to any who were privileged to know him, he was a generous, kind, and compassionate man who embodied the finest the Greatest Generation had to offer.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Poppy’s memory to the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Martin de Porres, PO Box 8129, New Orleans, LA 70821.
Published by Legacy Remembers from Sep. 16 to Sep. 19, 2022.