Our 93-year-old dad, Frank Chidichimo, passed away on the morning of March 7, 2022, in Twin Falls, Idaho. He was in the home he loved until one week before he passed away, when he was transferred to Chardonnay assisted living facility. A couple of days before he died, Dad was able to hear his oldest son Mark tell him just how much he was loved and appreciated by those who knew him, and that because of Dad and our mom, their kids and grandkids and great-grandkids have been given the gift of life, and many others joined our family through marriages and adoptions, all the way from Mark down to the newest great-grandchild born in 2021.
Dad was an only child, born in Chicago in 1928. He described his childhood in the suburbs of Chicago as pretty idyllic, where he and his buddies would tramp through the “wilds” getting into mostly harmless mischief, just kids being kids. (Except for the time he shot his aunt in the bottom with a BB gun, when she bent over to take laundry out of the basket.) One memory of his that we wish we could have seen was little Frank (or “June” which is short for Junior) taking the train into downtown Chicago where he took violin lessons. He said he fantasized so much about accidentally dropping the violin case out the train window or somehow leaving it on the train when he got off, that he actually did leave it on the train once, but his father’s railroad connections got it back and returned it to Dad, much to his chagrin. While Dad had a lifelong love of good music, from Glenn Miller to Frank Sinatra to the great Broadway plays, that love did not extend to playing the violin. Just imagine a little Italian boy in knickers, toting his violin case across the Chicago River, dreaming…
Dad’s interests included sports, hobbies, reading, card playing, and he could tinker on clocks and lawnmowers and any other piece of equipment that would produce his unique brand of colorful language. We all knew when it was time to give him space, and heaven help the kid who may have prompted the swearing. Dad was never blasphemous, just colorful. And speaking of sports, when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, it’s fairly certain that Mom and Dad started watching for more signs of the End Times.
Dad’s early adult life really kicked off when he joined the United States Marine Corps after high school, when he served his country in between the end of WWII and the start of the Korean conflict. When his enlistment was up, he decided he wanted to go to college somewhere far from Northern Illinois, and he ended up in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico. As fate would have it our mom had the same mindset when she left her home in Belvidere, Illinois, and they met in a ballroom dancing class at UNM. There, in the Land of Enchantment, they married and welcomed baby Mark into the world. After they both graduated from college, the enchantment of New Mexico gave way to a longing to be back near their families in Illinois, so they moved back and after some job-changing Dad took a job with the Belvidere Daily Republican in their advertising department. Babies Bill, Mary, Katy and Nancy joined the Chidichimo family while they lived in Belvidere, but the mountains and wilds of the West called Dad to Grand Junction, Colorado, where the family moved and Dad went to work for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, again in advertising.
While working for the paper, Dad decided to apply and test for the FBI, and he was selected to attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, in the summer of 1966. It was not easy for Mom and Dad at that time, but blood, sweat, tears and a lot of prayers got Dad through the academy and he became Special Agent Frank Chidichimo. Dad’s first office was in Portland, Oregon, but after less than a year he was transferred to Texas where he worked for the Corpus Christi office. Baby Matt was added to the family in CC, and the family was complete. As Dad said many times about his time in Texas, he loved the people, he loved the job, but he HATED the weather. After 10 years in Corpus Christi, Dad’s next and last office was in Twin Falls, Idaho, and he retired in 1986 due to the FBI’s mandatory retirement rules at the time. While he wasn’t ready to retire, he and Mom had many good years together after that when they traveled around the country visiting friends and family and just being happy in their home in Twin Falls. Dad also worked on his love-hate relationship with clocks, played poker with friends from the law enforcement community as well as friends from church, perfected his “bluff,“ and helped his kids and grandkids whenever and however he could.
When Mom started having trouble with cooking and caring for their home, Mary left her home in California and moved in with Mom and Dad, making it possible for them to stay in the home they bought when they moved to Twin Falls in 1978. Mary’s husband Jim moved to Idaho when he retired, and the two of them deserve all the love we have for making Mom and Dad’s last years as happy as possible. Bill and Dad went for many drives in the countryside around Twin Falls in the last years, with more than a couple trips to Jackpot sprinkled in. Nancy and Matt visited from Boise as often as they could and were always just a phone call away, Katy could always be counted on to come for dinner and spread sunshine, and Mark, a.k.a. THE BEST, came from New Jersey whenever he could. Grandkids, nieces, nephews and friends from all walks of life and places in the past kept in touch, and Dad was happy to have you all in his life. Mom passed away in 2016, so Dad was never alone the last 5 years of his life AND he didn’t have to learn how to cook. We know how grateful Dad was that he could stay home as long as possible (thanks to Horizon Home Health and Hospice) and we thank the kind folks at Chardonnay for the care they gave Dad at the end of his life.
Dad was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Nancy, his wife Lila, son-in-law Pat Touchette, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. He is survived by his children and their families: son Mark (Julie) Chidichimo and their children Chris Chidichimo; Amy (Steve) Saxton and children Olive and Lilah; and Nina (Alan) Prazniak; son Bill Chidichimo; daughter Mary (Jim) Little and their children John (Lindsey) Little, and their children Eric, Hannah, and Kaitlyn; Tony Little; Tim (Julie) Little; David (Ambriana) Little and son Everett; daughter Katy Touchette and children Debbie Touchette, Jamie Touchette, and Joey (Jerika) Touchette and their children Aden and Ilaria; daughter Nancy (Chris) Middleton and their children Cydney and Ian (Kinsey) Middleton; and Matt (Sherry) Chidichimo and their children Maddie and Matthew.
Dad was a man of integrity, loyalty, and above all he was a man of faith. He loved a good joke, could laugh at himself and with others, was revered for his poker playing, was able to forgive and forget when his kids messed up royally, and said many times in the last years of his life: “You know, your mom and I have often said, we’ve had a good life.”
Thank you, Dad, for always giving us a safe and loving home. For packing us into the station wagon and taking us for drives and picnics in the country, in the mountains, or to see a drive-in movie. For taking us on the train to visit grandparents back in Illinois. For coming to countless recitals, sporting events, father-daughter and father-son banquets and ceremonies, graduations, First Communions, Confirmations, etc. For teaching us that a good life is not measured in things but in how you treat others, even those you occasionally had to handcuff and arrest in the line of duty. For loving our mom and showing us by your life how to truly live our Catholic faith.
Semper Fi, Dad.