The Man We All Called Pop-Pop Bob

Everyone who knew him, loved him. He was so personable, loving, and outgoing. He smiled all the time. He loved his community, baseball, church, fire hall, 4-H, the DE State Fair, and family. But above all, he loved his grandkids. For almost 35 years, he was a second dad to me. I loved to hear him talk about growing up in Hickman, making scrapple with his dad, and his time working on base.

Even though he wasn’t a farmer, Pop-Pop had a love for agriculture and farm crops. This stemmed from his dad (Floyd Messick), owning a produce stand in Hickman and driving truck crops to the city with Mom-Mom’s dad (Hugh Vincent). This may help explain Pop-Pop’s role as Superintendent of the Farm Products building at the DE State Fair each year. One of the ways I connected with him more recently was through the Milford Farmer’s Market. For the past 10 years, he showed up on Saturday morning in Milford to help my Mom sell produce. He would sit in a chair in the back and cup vegetables, while customers sat with him. He loved the conversation, hugs, and smiles from so many familiar faces he saw each week. I joked that I’m not sure who was more popular-our sweet corn or Pop-Pop Bob. But in recent weeks I know for a fact now, it was Pop-Pop. Thank you so much for all the concerned questions about him from customers in recent weeks.

So here’s to the man who painted my bedroom Punky Brewster colors (each wall was a different color), took us grandkids to the beach every Labor Day and taught me how stand a wave, let us celebrate the last day of school by inviting friends over to swim in his pool, taught me how to drive on the Nine Foot Road well before I was 16, came to all my high school ball games, drove me to Springfield, MA for a FFA contest when no one else would, loved to hug and squeeze me, and danced with me at my wedding. No matter what I did, he loved me unconditionally and made me feel important. He will never be forgotten and I’m proud to call him mine. Baby Wright may never meet him but I will be sure to teach him about the loving man we all called “Pop-Pop Bob”.

Robert Eugene Messick

April 8, 1930 – June 28, 2014

This sailboat was filled with sand and had our names on it.

This sailboat was next to Pop-Pop’s pool in his backyard. He filled it with sand and had our names on the side.

This pretty much sums him up.

May 1984. This pretty much sums him up.

Sitting on the top row of Woodbridge Elementary School bleachers. I have no idea what we were watching. I am the one underneath the pom-pom. (Christy, Derek, Pop-Pop, Devon, Danna)

Sitting on the top row of Woodbridge Elementary School bleachers. I have no idea what we were watching but doesn’t he look like a big kid sitting there with us? Can you guess who is underneath the pom-pom? (Christy, Derek, Pop-Pop, Devon, Danna)

In the old 4-H Building at the fair. Janelle and I just gave our sewing demonstration. (Pop-Pop Bob, Janelle, Christy, Mom-Mom Ruth and Mom-Mom Ann)

In the old 4-H Building at the fair. Janelle and I just gave our sewing demonstration. (Pop-Pop Bob, Janelle, Christy, Mom-Mom Ruth and Mom-Mom Ann)

This was at Girl's State in 1997. He came to see me sworn in as Girl's State Auditor. (Danna, Pop-Pop Bob, Christy, Pop-Pop Bill)

This was at Girl’s State in 1997. He came to see me sworn in as Girl’s State Auditor. (Danna, Pop-Pop Bob, Christy, Pop-Pop Bill)

He recovered well from heart surgery in 1999.

He recovered well from heart surgery in 2001.

Delaware State Fair in 2002. He loved to stick his tongue out at us.

Delaware State Fair in 2002. He loved to stick his tongue out at us.


He loved the DE State Fair.

He loved the DE State Fair and served as Superintendent of the Farm Products building.

The was at the Milford Farmer's Market one year. He loved to help us every Saturday morning. And the customers loved him.

This was at the Milford Farmer’s Market in 2008. He loved to help us sell produce every Saturday morning. He helped Mom initially, when she started at the market 14 years ago. The customers loved to see him and often sat down with him or gave him hugs. Thank you to all the customers who have asked for him this year.

Dec. 2008. Our annual shot of all the grandkids.

Dec. 2008. Our annual shot of all the grandkids at Christmas.

Sept. 22, 2012. At our wedding, right after the anniversary dance, which they won. It's one of the only pictures I have of all 4 of us together.

Sept. 22, 2012. At our wedding, right after the anniversary dance, which they won (they were married for 64 years). It’s one of the few pictures I have of all 4 of us together.



From the Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit Blog- Support Your Local “Team Ag”!

I’ve been blogging, it’s just been for someone else! I was asked to write for the Mid-Atlantic Blog in September but I was so busy with the wedding. So here it is the end of October already. Where does time go? Fall is a busy time for everyone, but especially our youth! See how you can support your local “Team Ag” this winter!

Up next, find out how school lunches have changed and if they’re better or worse???! 🙂

Memories Made at the 2012 DE State Fair

Well, another DE State Fair has passed. Some of us are sad. Some of us are glad. Some of us are just flat-out exhausted. But the “memories made” and lessons learned, especially for the youth, are priceless. My family has always been involved and even though we don’t take many dairy cows anymore, it was fun to try to keep up with my nieces and nephew as they begin their 4-H and DE State Fair careers. Here are a few highlights:

My sister and I helped Mom lay out a lot of vegetables for her entries in the Garden Vegetable Department in the Dover Building the Wednesday before the fair starts. It’s a long stressful morning but for some reason, we keep doing it. Farmer Dan hates it mainly because it’s very challenging to find multiple kinds of one vegetable that are perfect and match.  Most of the veggies are thrown out on Tuesday night of the fair and we do it all over again on Wednesday morning.

We start by laying all the veggies out on tarp and wiping them down. This allows us to compare them and pick the most uniform ones.

Then we pick the best ones and lay them in a yellow try with a towel, so they don’t get bruised. Many classes differ on the number required (i.e. best 4 green tomatoes, best 12 snap beans, best 3 yellow squash).

And our sweet corn won a blue!

Mom received the Superintendent’s Award for the most blue ribbons in this department. She’s only won it 2 times. She was recognized here by the Governor on Governor’s day.

On Sunday, my cousin Bethany Killmon was named “Sheep & Wool Queen”. She spent the rest of the week dressed up and hanging out with important people, such as the Governor on Thursday. What a nice way to end her summer as she gets ready to start her senior year at Sussex Tech High School this fall. My Aunt Vi also came up from Georgia. She loves the fair and catches up with all of her Harrington High School classmates. My grandmother even came up one night with her. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Mom-Mom Ann strolling in the barn.

Our cousin, Bethany Killmon (on right), crowned Sheep & Wool Queen. She had to apply and give a public speech on what her sheep project has meant to her.

Hangin’ out in the sheep barn!
From Left to Right:
Bethany, Mom-Mom Ann, Uncle Charles, Aunt Vi, Wendee, Christy, Aunt Carla

I could barely keep up with all of my nieces and nephews activities. Maci and Brielle were in the 4-H talent show. Bethany & Alanna presented their 4-H demonstration on raised gardens. Maci & her friend gave their demo on recycling. All four of them won their divisions. Maci showed her Boer goat. Brielle showed her two market hogs. And the list goes on and on. I could barely keep up with Scott either. He loves the fair and spends as much time there as possible. He helps his Mom with her Suffolk sheep.

Maci showing her Boer goat, Patches, and speaking to the judge.

Alanna helping Mom with her big vegetable display.

Oh and by the way, I had a few reasons to be there, too. The DE 4-H Foundation sponsored their Donor Appreciation Brunch on the first Sunday. With the help of a fellow board member, Marian Harvey, we coordinated and moderated the event. Nemours sponsored Healthy Kids Day, which was all day Tuesday. I worked the free health fair, which was in the entertainment tent all day. I also gave a little demonstration in the Ag Commodities Building on Wednesday. I teamed up with Cara Sylvester (see her blog, …story worth telling) for CommonGround to educate fair go’ers on food safety tips for summer. More to come on this later! And on Saturday night I enjoyed the end of it all by going to see Miranda Lambert with some friends. It was a really good show-her voice sounded great and she looked awesome! I loved her skirt and boots!

Miranda Lambert in concert.
July 28, 2012

So, we will all try to catch up on sleep this week and wait another 355 days for next year’s fair come around. Can’t wait to see what is to come and look forward to the memories made next year!

How Will We Feed & Fuel Ourselves?

The brisk temperature didn’t keep many away as friends of Delaware Agriculture trickled into Harrington Fire Hall last Friday morning for an early morning breakfast. It was nice to see so many youthful faces present from 4-H State Teen Council representatives, and DE FFA State Officers, to Del-Tech FFA members.

Jan Seitz, Director of Extension, jumped right into the program by introducing the 2012 George M. Worrilow Award winner, Dr. Jack Gelb. Known for his poultry research and publications, he is the Department Chair and a Professor for Avian Virology at UD. Seeming very humble, Dr. Gelb spoke about his interest in agriculture without coming from ag roots. Noting a strong interest in science, he rode the “1st green wave” of ecology and attracted to ag because of the inspiring people in faculty and extension areas. He also felt he could make a difference in ag. His comments really resonated with me, especially after the recent Yahoo article which cited agriculture as the number one most useless degree. The author obviously never met Dr. Jack Gelb and most likely has never bit into a juicy tender chicken breast grown on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Scheduled to headline the program was the Governor, Jack Markell and our senior U.S. Senator, Tom Carper. The Governor was a no-show and the Senator was late but the show went on. Replacing the Governor, DE Secretary of Agriculture-Ed Kee, spoke on the new programs recently initiated for DE farmers such as DRIP and the Young Farmer Program. He also announced that the recent CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) regulations DE proposed were officially approved. Senator Carper finally arrived and reminisced on the environmental woes of the Inland Bays, which occurred during the Castle administration and derived the need for a Nutrient Management Commission. The members of this commission were to represent various sectors of all involved in nutrient management processes; requiring all to have a seat at the table and collaborate on a state plan. With the recent CAFO proposal being approved, Carper called this a huge accomplishment and wanted to honor the chairmen of the board, who have served since its inception. He presented a “Congressional Record” to Dave Baker, Vice-Chair and Bill Vanderwende, Chair (and my grandfather).

From Left: Sen. Tom Carper, Dave Baker-New Castle County Farmer, Bill Vanderwende-Sussex County Farmer

He ended by mentioning economic prosperity and that our economy is rebounding; not due to the usual consumer buying and housing industries but instead due to manufacturing and agriculture industries. He said he is hopeful about our future and we should only be concerned with 2 questions going forward: How will we feed ourselves and fuel ourselves? He stated agriculture has the answer in biofuel and efficiency. Isn’t it a shame the Yahoo author wasn’t sitting in the audience….?

Setting the Example in Health, 4-H, and Beyond

This past November I was able to revisit my cross-country coaching past by watching my cousin run in the DE DIAA Cross Country State Championship at Killen’s Pond State Park. It was a beautiful fall day and there’s no place better than Killen’s Pond to take in the fall scenery, as you can see below…

Christy (left) & Bethany (right), Nov. 12, 2011, DE DIAA State Cross Country Championship

My cousin is Bethany Killmon from Greenwood, DE. She’s a junior at Sussex Tech High School, who plays three sports (cross-country, winter track, and soccer) and is an avid 4-Her. She recently attended National 4-H Congress as a delegate for Delaware 4-H, which was held in Atlanta, GA. This trip is the ultimate prize for a 4-Her; it’s a week-long excursion that exposes young leaders to a large city and rewards them for years of project work. In addition to the required projects of Citizenship and Leadership, Bethany’s core projects are in three areas:

  1. Sheep
  2. Horticulture
  3. Health

To win the trip, Bethany (with the help of her Mom) had to compile years of service in these project areas into one “project book”. Speaking from experience, record-keeping for this task is not easy; her book is close to 25 pages long!

While I’m sure all of these projects have positively impacted Bethany, I predict that the most influential on her life will be Health. Being a dedicated team member in school sports fits into the project well but it goes beyond being a high school athlete. Bethany has gained knowledge of personal hygiene, food and nutrition, exercise physiology, and child health related issues and shared it with others by giving public demonstrations and visiting nursing homes. I also believe her daily routine of physical activity will resonate with her in years to come because of exposure at such an early age. Coupled with her acquired 4-H knowledge, she will be ready to transform into a healthy college student and young adult. How awesome and refreshing is that?

This is exactly what 4-H is all about: exposing young people to a world beyond just their school or small group of friends. It’s about using their Head, Heart, Hands and Health (aka 4-H) to make their club, community, country and world a better place. Oh and by the way, Bethany ran the 3.1 mile course in 20 minutes and 6 seconds, placing 6th out of 107 Division I female runners! I can’t wait to see what she does as a high school senior!