Obituaries » Francisco Carlos Avila

October 17, 1925 - May 17, 2019

Funeral Service Date
May 25, 2019
Funeral Service Time
10:30 am

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Francisco Carlos Avila

Francisco Carlos Avila (‘Frank,’ ‘Pancho,’ ‘Jim’), 93, of Roanoke, Indiana passed to his eternal reward on May 17, 2019 just after the reciting of the rosary by some of the family members surrounding him. Pancho was born the oldest son of Francisco Wenceslao Avila and L. Lucille (Moritz) Avila on October 17, 1925, in South Bend, Indiana. Four years later and beyond, he would be joined by brothers – Carlos, Ramon, Ricardo, Juan and eventually his little sister Rita (He learned of her coming while on leave from training in the Army). Dad’s first years in South Bend were spent surrounded by his Irish and German maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, while at the same time Dad was raised to have great pride and respect for his paternal Mexican heritage and his queridos abuelos, tios and primos in Mexico, D.F. At the direct instructions of his maternal grandfather Moritz, “You are a Sox fan, the working man’s team, not one of those wimpy north-sider Cubs fans!” Dad cheered as a life-long White Sox fan. He began his early life also as an ND Fan (Go Irish) mostly in part due to his grandfather Moritz having been a strapping, German, non-student member of an early-on Notre Dame Football squad.

Dad grew up in the depression, the son of an immigrant father and young mother, but, as his father was tri-lingual (Spanish, French and English spoken here) and had made his way in his beloved new country eventually working without formal college training as a patent-holding mechanical engineer for International Harvester, the young Avila family stepped into American life with much pride and dignity for both their cultures. They did this even at a time when Hispanic or immigrant culture and language was not always appreciated. The family eventually moved from South Bend to Fort Wayne, again surrounded by cousins and his mother’s family. At times due to the depression, cousins would move in with Dad and his siblings and parents. This led to very close and life-long cousin relationships.

As the oldest, Dad was the first to attend school in his family. With multiple family moves during the depression, Dad attended multiple grade schools. He attended both St. John’s Parish school on Fairfield Avenue and St. Patrick’s parish school on Harrison Street. Unbeknownst to both Mother and Dad, they were schoolmates, one year apart, while Dad attended St. Patricks. In his final year of High School, Dad, as a favor, offered to drive his cousin and his cousin’s sweetheart home one evening after a school shindig. His cousin and sweety rode in the back. That left a seat open up front, and wouldn’t you know but a sweet young Phyllis Ann Conroy also asked for a ride home that night. There sitting next to Dad, she did what she oft did, talked his ear off. Rumor has it she had been watching this handsome upper classman from afar as he went to daily Mass early before school started and as he stood outside of the Wolf and Dessauer Tea Room in his letter jacket with the other cool jocks. Dad and the cool jocks stood just in the spot where all the cute coeds could see them while the ladies took their afternoon sodas.

Dad graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1943, one year before Mother. That summer Dad demanded to enlist in the Army to fight totalitarianism. But Dad was the oldest and the family now lived in Whitley County on a hundred acre dairy and crop farm. Grandpa traveled all week for work, also. Dad was needed, and, as he was only 17 at the time, he would have needed his parents to sign for him to enlist. Grandma said, “No!” Dad shaved his head and threatened a hunger strike. But his beloved Dad stepped in, and so he waited until the next year and enlisted. Dad served our country during WWII in the U.S. Army, enlisting in 1944 and being honorably discharged in 1946. Dad rarely shared his war stories as we grew up, but later he would tell us harrowing, honorable, and hilarious stories from his years of service. Dad served in Bavaria seeing action in the Hürtgen Forest and Remagen Bridge on the Rhine, and he even stood watch at the base of the Eagle’s Nest. Dad reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. He says it was because the young Lieutenants coming straight from West Point would look to him for his knowledge of the 9th Infantry Division, 39th Regiment, G Company and the workings of the water-cooled Browning Machine guns Dad operated and carried all over Southern Germany.

Dad returned home to his dear sweetheart, Phyllis Conroy. But he was forever marked by the motto his regiment lived in Germany, AAA-O: Anything, Anywhere, Anytime Bar None! Within a short time Dad, in his sappy, romantic way (NOT) asked Mother to marry him with the proposal, “Let’s get married and have ten kids.” And that they did! Right, Jimmy? Mother and Dad were married in August of 1948 and one year later welcomed their first born, their black-eyed beauty, Susan, named for the Black Eyed Susan flowers blooming that time of August.

After the war Dad enrolled on the GI Bill at the local campus of Purdue in Fort Wayne and then transferred to West Lafayette earning a BS in Chemistry from Purdue University, graduating in 1950. From that moment on Dad bled Old Gold and Black. Dad, in fact, had the rarest of blood, AB-. He always got a kick out of the fact that according to research on the Shroud this is the blood type of Jesus. Dad worked as a Materials Engineer for General Electric for 33 years and retired in 1985. While with GE, he developed and patented polymer varnishes used to cover wrapping wires in highly touted and used GE Motors. PhD chemists usually do this level of research, but instead Dad took up his father’s advice and saw learning as merely access to books. Dad truly availed himself of books – many, many books.

He was active with Allen County Right to Life, Indiana Right to Life, Opus Dei, Knights of Columbus, and the Central Catholic Alumni Association. Dad worked tirelessly with the Elfun Society of GE to refurbish and rebuild tape players used in recording books for the blind.

Besides devoting himself to his faith and family, he loved to travel throughout the U.S. and Europe and his beloved Mexico especially by Amtrak when he could, took up photography, made any excuse to hear good music like that of his Michigan Avila family, listened to the Met on Saturdays (and Rush each lunchtime), ate and prepared good food especially cuisine prepared by his grandsons James and Carlos, and fought for the dignity of all human life – for peoples and for each person – a true gentleman in every sense of the word. Dad fought for his country, his Church, his family, the environment. The list could go on. Although Dad can never really be pegged, Dad was kind of like a hipster before it was hip.

Frank is survived by his ten children: Susan Avila of Chicago, IL; Mary (Arthur) Miller of Fort Wayne, IN; Lucy Avila of Los Angeles, CA; Francisco Antonio ‘Tony’ (Maria) Avila of Vacaville, CA; Monica (Jim) Meyers of Fort Wayne, IN; Daniel (Elaine) Avila, of Roanoke, IN; Luisa Avila and Juanita Purdy both of Cincinnati OH; Phyllis (Steve) Rogg of Kenosha, WI; and James (Kristen) Avila of Muskegon, MI; 34 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren; sister, Rita (Peter) Tsuleff of Fort Wayne, IN and brother, Ramon (Vivian) Avila of Muncie, IN. Frank was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years, Phyllis Ann (Conroy) Avila, brothers, Carlos, Ricardo and Juan Avila, and grandsons Matthew Miller and James Meyers II.

Dad carried on after the passing of Mother in 1983, filling both her and his spot in the family. He tried to never miss a landmark moment for each of his children, grandchildren and even his nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. Dad loved Mother dearly saying that marrying Mother was his greatest accomplishment in life. They are certainly reunited now with stories galore to share.

Dad lived each day so that going to bed each night he could think of the world as a better place, but he always lived with great humility, always hilariously self-effacing, just a common-sense guy. He lived with great pride and love for his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dad was father and grandfather to many, friend to more and advocate for all, especially the helpless and future generations. We are honored to call you Dad, Grandpa and friend. We only hope to earn this honor. As one last image, we think of how Dad faced the SS one cold, dark night waking from sleep, fumbling to put on and tie his boots. He made it to put those on that night and escape alive. But from then on Dad lived with those boots on, always on. We know all would join us in saying, “Dad, Grandpa, Pancho you have served well. Untie and take off your well-worn boots. You are safely home.”

Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 am, Saturday, May 25, 2019 at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, 112 South Clinton Street with calling one hour prior. Visitation will be held Friday, May 24, 2019, from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm & 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Divine Mercy Funeral Home, 3500 Lake Ave., Fort Wayne with a rosary at 3:30 pm. Burial will be in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Roanoke, IN. Memorial contributions may be made to the Allen County Right to Life, Women’s Care Center or Masses. To sign the online guest book, go to

Visitation Information:

Divine Mercy Funeral Home

Phone: 260-426-2044

Address: 3500 Lake Avenue Fort Wayne Indiana, 46805

rosary at 3:30 pm

Visitation Date

May 24, 2019

Visitation Time

02:00 pm – 04:00 pm

06:00 pm – 08:00 pm

Additional Info

rosary at 3:30 pm

Funeral Service Information:

Cathedral of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Phone: 260-424-1485

Address: 1122 South Clinton St. Fort Wayne IN, 46802

Service Date: May 24, 2019

Service Time: 2:00 pm

Service Notes: calling one hour prior at church

Funeral Service Date

May 25, 2019

Funeral Service Time

10:30 am

Additional Info

calling one hour prior at church

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