On June 14th, 2016 we lost an angel. Mrs. Grace Fehintola Christian unexpectedly transitioned to the next stage after a short illness. Auntie Grace, as most knew her, was born into Nigerian royalty on May 18th, 1932. She was the last of the four children of Bishop Samuel Charles Phillips and Mrs. Evangeline Elizabeth Ayodele Phillips.
She excelled in school as a child, and eventually found her way to Dublin, Ireland to study Radiography. It was there that she met her husband-to- be, Dr. Ferdinand Francisco Christian, who was studying Radiology. Soon, they would get married and start a family. They produced three children, Ferdinand Jnr, Maude, and Edmund.
After a long practice in Radiography spanning stints at Effia Nkwanta Hospital in Sekondi, and Korle-Bu Hospital in Accra Ghana, she decided on a career change. She Studied early childhood education at Queens University in Canada that led her to open up a private school for toddlers when she returned to Ghana in 1969, called Christian Youngsters’ School in the Airport Area of Accra Ghana. As with all that she touched, her school became a huge success, and many folks remember her for their early days with her as their teacher.
Starting in 1980, her children pursued careers in the United States of America, and Auntie Grace joined them to help with the care of their newly born children. She helped raise her 11 grandchildren: Michelle, Ferdinand III, Christopher and Adam Jason Christian – Fred’s children; Fernanda, Jack, Anthea, Anna Victoria, and Rachel Meier – Maude’s children; Adrienne and Edmund Christian Jnr – Edmund’s children.
Somehow, even as she cared for her grandchildren in a foreign land, she remained self-sufficient. She worked as a radiographer in Gainesville, Florida’s Shands Hospital, and in several hospitals in Reston, Virginia.
She was widowed in 2002. Nevertheless, she plodded on…crisscrossing America as she lent a hand in raising her grandchildren. For the past ten years she lived in Racine Wisconsin, where her daughter Maude C. Meier PH.D. worked at SC Johnson as a research scientist (entomologist) in RD&E. Her first son, Dr. Ferdinand Christian Jnr progressed to become a heart surgeon in New York City, and her second son, Edmund Christian became a civil engineer and then became a patent lawyer in Reston, Virginia. She proudly strutted from one city to another visiting with her children until recent times.
She enjoyed many years in her assisted-living apartment surrounded by friends like Sister Andrews (Sylvia Acheson) and fellow residents. Shock and sadness were our initial reactions to her passing, as it was totally unexpected. But we now rejoice in the knowledge that she is in a better place. She was a devout Catholic who loved the Lord and lived a life that was marked by kindness, benevolence, and a generosity of spirit. She touched and positively influenced many lives.
Her earthly life will be celebrated on June 29-30 as she is ushered into her new phase, by her immediate family: Ferdinand Jnr. and Joyce Christian Maude and Henry Meier Edmund and Denise Christian. Her grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and friends.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. June 29 at Maresh-Meredith Funeral Home, 803 Main Street. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. June 30 at St. Richard’s Catholic Church, 1503 Grand Avenue.