George Raymond di Cristina
Born February 22, 1916, died peacefully in his home December 23, 2020 two months short of his 105th birthday. He endured a somewhat chaotic childhood, moving from place to place until settling in San Francisco during his Balboa High School years with his older brother Charles. He began working during non-school hours for his father's stair building firm, J. di Cristina and Son, at the age of 15. Despite the Depression, the '30s were a wonderful time for him during which he enjoyed the outdoors regularly and trout fishing specifically.
Everything changed for him and everyone else in the country on December 7, 1941 and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps shortly afterwards. Following basic training, he found himself at various training locations around the country, one of which was an airfield in Oklahoma where he witnessed a tornado chew up various aircraft and a few buildings. He later, along with thousands of other American soldiers, shipped out of New York City on the Queen Mary and zig zagged across the Atlantic to Liverpool, England. There his unit prepared for the invasion of North Africa which culminated in their landing at Oran, Algeria. As their transport ship headed back out into the Mediterranean, George and his fellow soldiers watched open-mouthed from a hill as the ship was hit with multiple torpedos and sank. Despite that and an occasional strafing by the Germans, they settled in and established an airbase essentially at the foot of the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia. Soon it appeared as though Rommel's Afrika Korps would breach the pass and overrun the airfield. As it turned out, that did not happen. Nonetheless, the base was abandoned with George being the last one to leave after lighting the bonfire of abandoned equipment. He followed the retreating column, driving a Jeep and eating dust for 250 miles. His CO never expected to see him again and, in a delighted and surprised moment that defied protocol, addressed him briefly by his first name when they reunited.
His unit later invaded and liberated Sicily and participated in the subsequent invasion of Italy. George soon found himself in Naples where he became ill with a stomach ulcer. He was evacuated to England and subsequently returned to the United States where he was granted an honorable discharge in late 1943.
Upon his return to California he returned to work for his father's company, J. di Cristina and Son where he developed innovative techniques for the design and construction of custom circular and elliptical stairways and the accompanying balustrades. He soon met Rose Fauci and they married in September, 1946. In July of 1947 their only child, a son, was born. George and Rose became attentive, loving and supportive parents. They built a custom home in a delightfully child-overrun neighborhood in 1952 and there they lived out their wonderful lives. In that time, George enjoyed weekly golf games at Green Hills Country Club with close friends and savored friendships that lasted decades. Also in that time George became the dean of custom stair building in the area, enjoyed a modicum of fame as such and wrote a book on the subject which is still available on Amazon.
George has outlived all of his siblings and his golf buddies. He is now eternally reunited with all of them and his loving wife.
He is survived by his son, daughters in law, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Private family committal and burial at the Italian Cemetery in Colma.
Condolences may be sent c/o Chapel of the Highlands, 194 Millwood Drive, Millbrae, CA 94030.
Memorial contributions can be made to: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
and/or Sutter Hospice at www.suttercareathome.org
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27, 2020.