Robert L. Crist would help anybody anytime “at the drop of a hat,” his daughter Sharon Halas said.
“He was a jack of all trades,” Halas said. “He could do anything but first and foremost he loved his family and, of course, his wife. He taught us honesty, integrity and patriotism.”
Crist, 89, of Hammond, met his late wife Margaret at church. The couple, high school sweethearts, was married 66 years.
“The only time they were ever apart was when he went to war,” Halas said.
During World War II, Crist served in the Army Air Corps in England with the 91st Bomb Group, flying 30 missions over Germany in a B-17, the “Red Alert,” which was his pride and joy, Halas said.
A die-hard Cubs fan since he was six-years-old, Crist would run home after school to listen to their games on the radio.
“He always wanted to be a third baseman for the Cubs.” Halas said.
She said her dad, who played high school baseball, instead went to work for his father. A commercial and residential painting contractor for more than 60 years, Crist’s clients included Hoosier State Bank, LaSalle Steel and many doctors’ and lawyers’ homes in Munster.
“He loved it,” Halas said.
In 2010, Crist went on the Honor Flight Chicago trip to Washington D.C. with his granddaughter, Annette, accompanying him as his guardian.
“That was the best day of his life next to marrying my mother,” Halas said.
Crist played in three bowling leagues. An avid golfer, he enjoyed golfing with his two sons-in-law while he was able.
Crist was given a funeral with full military honors. American Legion Post 232 provided the honor guard, a Lake County Sheriff’s bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and there was a 21-gun salute. His bomber jacket and Distinguished Flying Cross were displayed, Halas said. Two U.S. Air Force honor guards presented the flag to his grandson, Christopher.