Life Story / Obituary
Through every step, word and deed, Grace Christian served her Lord with purpose and diligence. Grace’s inner beauty, unending generosity and benevolence touched and influenced many with whom she came in contact. With a nurturing grace, she mentored many and her smile outshined the gloomiest of days. A devoted wife, dedicated mother, grandmother, friend, and faithful follower of the Word, Grace’s gentle and loving spirit will remain in the hearts of those who came to know and love her.
Grace Fehintola, or “Auntie Grace” as most affectionately knew her, was born into Nigerian royalty on May 18, 1932, in Lagos, Nigeria. She was the last of four children born to Bishop Samuel Charles and Evangeline Ayodele (Pearse) Phillips, joining her older siblings, Busola, Marianne, and Oladikpo. Grace’s father was an Anglican Bishop in Nigeria while her mother looked after their household.
Born and raised in Lagos, Grace excelled in school as a child. Science, reading, and story writing were just a few of her favorite subjects, and her knowledge of the bible exceeded her parent’s expectations. Grace possessed a wonderful love for music, and she was very talented when it came to sewing and crocheting. Games were a large part of Grace’s youth. She was a very good chess and card player, and through the years she won thousands of Scrabble games with her acute proficiency and knowledge of words. These traits and talents served Grace well in each of her endeavors for years to come.
At a time when Nigerian women were being greatly recognized and their voices heard, Grace, at the age of 17, found her way to Dublin, Ireland where she went on to further her education. She found physics to be quite interesting, and after studying the subject and receiving university credits, Grace acquired her diploma in radiography. While attending school in Dublin, Grace also met her future husband, Ferdinand Francisco Christian who was also studying radiology. In time and with a deep, abiding love, the two were later married. From their union they came to share the love and devotion of three blessed children, Ferdinand Jr., Maude, and Edmund. With love and wisdom, Grace was a nurturing mother and mentor to her children. They had great respect for her, and they learned from her fine example.
Grace’s husband was an esteemed doctor of radiology and together their professions found them moving to where they were led and needed. Grace worked as a radiographer in Ghana, Canada, and in the U.S. She spent time in her chosen profession with stints at Effia Nkwanta Hospital in Sekondi, and the Korle-Bu Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Following a long practice in radiography, Grace decided to expand her career horizons. Having studied early childhood education at Queens University in Canada, Grace was led to open a private school for toddlers and kindergarten aged children. She began running the Christian Youngster’s School upon her return to Ghana in 1969, teaching reading, writing, and religion. Along with everything Grace seemed to touch, her school operation was a huge success, and many remember Grace in their earlier days when she served as their teacher. Quite proud of her accomplished school, many of Grace’s students went on to become successful professionals in their own right.
Beginning in 1980, Grace’s children began pursuing their own careers in the U.S. Grace joined her family members to help raise their children, traveling across the country whenever she was needed. Even when caring for her grandchildren in a foreign land, Grace remained self-sufficient. And be it family or the pets of her beloved family, Grace was always willing to lend a helping hand. While in Gainesville, Florida she worked at Shands Hospital and for a time in several hospitals in Reston, Virginia. In later years, she especially loved volunteering her time as a “Pink Lady” hospital volunteer and serving the Senior Companion Program at the Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin.
Grace was extremely proud of her children and their many accomplishments. Her son, Ferdinand Jr. became a cardio heart and thoracic surgeon in New York City while residing in North Wales, Pennsylvania. Her daughter, Maude received her PhD and MBA as a research scientist and entomologist and for the past ten years Grace lived in Racine, Wisconsin where her daughter worked at SC Johnson in her field. Her youngest son Edmund, a civil engineer, soon expanded his horizons as well and became a patent attorney in Reston, Virginia. Although widowed in 2002, Grace persevered and carried on her mission in life – serving her family and others. Through the following years she crisscrossed America, traveling from one city to another visiting her children. A most recent highlight in Grace’s life included the birth of her precious great-granddaughter, Laila this year.
Although already a world traveler, some of Grace’s fondest memories include discovering her love for Disney World when they visited the Magic Kingdom in 1984. She was awestruck when visiting Niagara Falls, New York in 1968, and memorable times shared in 1965 visiting Germany and several other European countries. She always desired to pay a visit to the Vatican, although she did have the opportunity of meeting the Pope while in Ghana. Grace’s natural and genuine love for people knew no bounds. She loved bringing people together, and in so doing, she was much loved by people from all walks of life. Grace will always be fondly remembered for being dressed up and more than ready to go wherever the Lord would have her.
Grace continued her love for playing games and some of her favorite shows included Jeopardy!, the Wheel of Fortune, and watching old movies and musicals. A voracious reader, Grace’s love for learning and knowledge continued to grow as she simply would read everything. A highly intelligent woman, Grace could easily recite bible passages, and Shakespeare, too. She possessed a great memory, and not only did she acquire a vast vocabulary, she also knew the words to numerous songs. Highly committed to her faith and church as a devout Catholic, Grace was a member of St. Anthony’s where she gave of her time and talents. She loved singing in the church choir, especially when she sang with the Christ the King choir in Accra, Ghana.
Upon moving into an assisted-living apartment, Grace enjoyed her time there surrounded by many friends including Sister Andrews (Sylvia Acheson) and fellow residents. Grace loved the Lord and lived a life marked by kindness, benevolence, and generosity of spirit. She touched and positively influenced many lives through her warm, generous, and loving ways. With a smile that easily lit up a room, Grace was ever nurturing in her love for all children. The lasting impression she placed on their hearts will be fondly recalled and how much Grace was delighted by their presence.
Even as shock and sadness claimed the initial reaction of many learning of Grace’s sudden and unexpected passing, it is with rejoicing in the knowledge that she is in a better place surrounded by the arms of her Lord. Although deeply missed, she will be remembered with joy.
On June 14, 2016 we lost an angel. Mrs. Grace Fehintola Christian unexpectedly transitioned to the next stage after a short illness. Her earthly life will be celebrated on June 29-30 as she is ushered into her new phase, by her immediate family: Ferdinand and Joyce Christian Jr., Maude and Henry Meier, Edmund and Denise Christian; her 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 Jr.-Edmund’s children; nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and friends.
Visitation will be at the Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home in Racine, Wisconsin on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, from 5-7 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, June 30, 2016, 11:00 am at St. Richard’s Catholic Church, 1503 Grand Avenue, Racine, Wisconsin. To share a favorite memory or photo of Grace and to sign her online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.