Family-Placed Death Notice
PELL, Aurianna "Ria" "I would like to be buried in my best overalls, white dress shirt, bow tie, plaid pork pie hat, and my favorite boots." -Ria Pell Atlanta lost its 5'10" big mouthed, perfect flat-top, gay mayor on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Ria Pell was 45. Aurianna "Ria" Raae Pell was born on March 10, 1968 in New Jersey, but was bred with Southern attitude. She lived as a sweet charmer, a dirty fighter and a generous chef who wouldn't let anybody leave her house hungry. Ria took care of business from dawn until dark, and that usually meant taking care of other people - at both the breakfast table and her designated bar stool at every dive bar in town. She single-handedly kept liquor stores and tattoo parlors thriving in the greater metro Atlanta area. Ria took her time...all the time. She said what needed to be said. She taught pirates to be bad, skater punks to be good, and all of her friends to be better. Ria carved out space as a chef and business owner, and Ria's Bluebird -a vanguard in the Grant Park neighborhood- recently celebrated 13 successful years. Her supper club Sauced in Inman Park was a seasonal rotating menu of her culinary talents. At her impressive Tye Street "man cave", she was known to host tremendous feasts; many of those dishes would become Sauced favorites. Ria's brisket could make a grown man cry, her vegan chili won accolades, her country fried tempeh made carnivores into vegans while her short-rib beef wellington made vegans into carnivores, her lemon icebox pie was unforgettable and perhaps her simplest but most famous dish was her signature caramelized banana pancakes. But Ria's generosity extended beyond the kitchen--she took on the role as a supporter, a leader and a family member to countless people in widespread communities. Though neither technically L, G, B, or T, Ria's queer butch love created space all around the country for people to be their true selves. Her commitment to building a better world for all people included arranging rock benefits for surgeries, making chili for wakes, coordinating and participating in food donations for activist events and supporting local artists. Folk music "gave her a rash", however Ria had an extensive blues, punk, and jazz record collection and moonlighted as DJ Hawg-Tied. A winner of many deep-fried Southern womens' hearts, Ria also won the cooking competition TV show "Chopped" in 2012 in a whirlwind of pork rinds and Danish shortbread. She loved muscle cars and old-school trucks. Ria liked to tell a good story, she could share the stage and she made a dramatic exit. Ria is survived by her mother Vibeke Pell; father Ron Pell; wife Kiki Carr; brother Erik Pell, his wife Shannon and their children Zackary, Casey, and Gavin; cousin Denise Kirkaldle; partner Karen Portaleo and her whole community wondering where she buried the treasure. The week Ria died, she received one of the greatest gifts of her life when she reconnected with her birth daughter, Amanda Ackerman. Ria would be proud to know that Amanda now has not 1, but 400 new moms who will be available for tall tales, embarrassing stories, and full-on love and support. Amanda will learn what we have grown to know as true: Ria Pell was an all around beautiful lover of life and her treasure is what she left in people's hearts. Services will be held at the Westview Cemetery on Saturday, November 30th at noon at 1680 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta GA 30310 and the wake will follow at Ria's Bluebird at 421 Memorial Drive SW, Atlanta GA 30312.
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Published by Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nov. 28, 2013.