Francis “Frank” Anthony Nardi, 96, a longtime resident of Harrisonburg, passed away Oct. 7, 2012. He was born in Williamsport, Pa., on Nov. 22, 1915, son of the late Antonio Numa Nardi, an Italian immigrant from Diecimo, Italy, and Esther Barnesconi Nardi of Sunbury, Pa. His parents died when Frank was very young, and he was raised by his three older siblings and guardian, Aunt Rosie Vannucci. Frank enjoyed a variety of jobs in his younger years, including working in his family’s fruit store, A Nardi & Sons, where his love for a daily dose of peaches surely began.
Frank graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in Williamsport in 1934, attended Villanova University and graduated from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia on June 7, 1939 with a bachelor’s of science degree in bacteriology.
He married Elizabeth “Betty” Marie Sullivan, his first and only true love, on Jan. 25, 1941, at the Annunciation Catholic Church in Williamsport.
Frank served in the U.S. Navy as a pharmacist mate during World War II and was proud to be assigned to the tularemia unit researching ways to protect U.S. troops and citizens in the event of a bioterrorist attack. His responsibilities included testing an experimental drug, streptomycin, as a possible protective agent. Remarkably, streptomycin ultimately saved his life when he was inadvertently exposed to tularemia during the top-secret research project.
After the service, Frank and Betty and their young son, Tom, moved to Harrisonburg in 1946, where Frank began working as a microbiologist at Merck & Co. Inc., which at the time was testing streptomycin as a possible treatment for tuberculosis. Frank worked for Merck for 34 years, retiring in 1980 as head of the Microbiology Inoculation Laboratory.
In 1950, Frank and Betty built their home in what was then the new Sunset Heights neighborhood of Harrisonburg, where they lived for more than 60 years. They raised six sons and one daughter, and developed deep friendships in the community that endured throughout their lives and across many generations. Frank and Betty had an open-door policy and friends of their children and grandchildren were always welcome in their home on 310 New York Ave. Frank’s favorite hobby was printing, and he relished setting type and completing wedding invitations, business cards, engraved golf balls and raffle tickets for friends and civic organizations on the offset printing press in his basement. He was an avid stamp and coin collector, history buff and the family genealogist. In 1974, he and his son, Tom, traveled to Italy, spending two weeks tracing the path of their Nardi ancestors, including visiting the village of Diecimo, where his father was born.
Throughout his life, Frank was a devoted family man, fiercely inquisitive, and thoughtfully interested on issues of the day and other people’s stories. He loved to learn, enrolled in computer classes at age 80, tackled crossword puzzles with a vengeance, and delighted in designing electronic cards and notes as well as writing letters to the editor of the Daily News-Record. Frank was also a loyal customer of Bob Evans in Harrisonburg, ordering “the usual” — two eggs, sunny side up. At 96, Frank was very much in charge of his own health, regularly quizzing medical staff about medicines, procedures and nutrition.
His wife, Betty, preceded him in death on Sept. 4, 2008. His sister, Katherine Nardi Bruce; his brother, Ralph Nardi Sr.; and his favorite son-in-law, Lanny Steven Holsinger, also preceded him in death. He is survived by a sister, Dorothy Nardi Ribando, 101, of Hershey, Pa., and his seven children: Tom, Steve, J.P. Nardi and Beth Nardi Holsinger of Harrisonburg; David Nardi of Waynesboro; Jim Nardi and his wife, Lynne Clark, of Tacoma, Wash.; and Dan and Alyce Umberger Nardi of Doylestown, Pa. Frank was the proud Pop-Pop of Cris Nardi and her husband, Tim White; Kathleen Nardi Sullivan and her husband, Clyde Sullivan; Brennan Nardi and her husband, Brad Czachor; Philip and Anne Marie Nardi; Emily and Natalie Holsinger, and Shannon and Katie Nardi; and the even prouder great-Pop-Pop of Chloe Czachor and Sinead and Kieran Nardi-White. He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews: Polly and Bobby Ribando, Kay Tighe, Dottie Kinsman, Tony Bruce and Ralph Nardi Jr.
Frank was a devout Catholic and found great strength and comfort in his undying faith. He and Betty were members of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and their church community will always be remembered as the most important piece that helped them adjust to a new life away from their beloved Williamsport. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Club No. 450.
Visitation will be Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kyger Funeral Home. A Funeral Mass in celebration of Frank’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrisonburg. The family invites all to celebrate their Pop’s life after the service at 310 New York Ave. Burial will be private. Friends may call anytime at his daughter Beth’s home, 735 S. Dogwood Drive.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his honor to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church Building Fund and RMH Hospice.