Peter A. Ziccardi, a retired high school chemistry teacher who also served as Marilla town justice for 20 years, and briefly as town supervisor, died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 80. Mr. Ziccardi, an Army veteran who served in Panama during the Korean War, taught at East Aurora High School for 31 years and was honored numerous times for his work with students.
A native of the East Lovejoy neighborhood in Buffalo, Mr. Ziccardi briefly served in the U.S. Navy Reserve while taking college courses in the evenings and was then drafted into the Army during the Korean War. He did not see action but was a member of the championship All-Army Rifle and Pistol Team, and was later a member of Sgt. Mark Radernacher Post 7795, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He earned his bachelor's degree and a master's degree in chemistry from Canisius College before going on to teach at East Aurora.
Known affectionately to his students as "the keeper of the mole" in reference to the unit of chemistry, Ziccardi was honored in 1993 as the American Chemical Society's local distinguished High School Teacher of the Year.
After one of his former students went on to Cornell University and cited him as her most influential teacher, the university offered an honorary one-year scholarship in his name in 1989.
Mr. Ziccardi was an avid hunter and fisherman, and loved to play keyboard. He was also a member and past president of the Marilla Kiwanis Club, which inspired him to run for town justice soon after he and his family had moved to the town.
The first time he ran, he lost by 40 votes to a Marilla native but decided to try again, won and was then undefeated for 20 years, serving from 1974 to 1994. While in that role, he even married several of his former students, in locales such as on cruise ships or on horseback, as well as in town.
"He really loved being a judge," said his wife of 51 years, the former Jeanne DeWeaver. "He'd have been very happy if he had stayed a judge, but he didn't like the politics that was running in the town."
So he resigned to run for town supervisor and defeated the incumbent. But he stepped down six months later after learning he had lymphoma. His wife said the cancer was not the cause of his death, however.
Survivors, besides his wife, include a son, Frank; two daughters, Susan Schiffmacher and Linda Kaiser; and a sister, Josephine Broel.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 5271 Clinton St., Elma.