Francis Robert Christian, 101, died peacefully at home with his family in River Forest on Oct. 31, 2021, shortly before his 102nd birthday. He was born at home in Chicago on Nov. 5, 1919. His father emigrated from Rende, Italy and his mother from Massa E Cozzile, Italy.
He attended St. John’s Military Academy in Wisconsin as a young man, finished high school there, and also attended Northwestern University. He was passionate about family, food, and life, loved beautiful cars, and was an avid golfer. A family man, he raised five children and many grandchildren and a great-grandchild. He was known for his charismatic personality and generosity and will be remembered for frequenting local restaurants and making friends with everyone he met. He loved to tell stories that were both humorous and filled with life lessons. He also loved a good cannoli (especially the cannoli cake from Ferrara Bakery), all things chocolate, and ice cream.
He owned Merit Company, which produced caskets in Chicago. He took over from his father after returning from serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. The company made three special ornate solid bronze caskets called the Italian Renaissance. One was sold to a Pope, one to a man in San Francisco, and one is currently in a museum.
Frank Christian was the husband of the late Ruth Ann (nee Hoppe) who died in 2010. They are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.