Harold Christian, the owner of one of Abilene’s favorite barbecue restaurants, passed away Sunday at 71.
At sight of the former Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q at EN 13th and Walnut Street, flowers and balloons have tied to the old front window, remembering the man who combined soul power with business; a man who will be missed and never forgotten.
Christian was known for decades simply as “Harold” to the generations of ACU students and others who filed through the line at the one room restaurant west of campus, asking each patron, “And what can I get for you?” and occasionally treating the lunch crowd with a song.
Anthony Williams, chief business services officer and longtime friend of Harold, said a number of things made him special.
“Most people associate him with great barbecue or his sauce,” Williams said. “He was much more than just a business owner that had Abilene’s best barbecue restaurant. To the Abilene community and African-American community, he meant much more.”
One of Williams’ favorite memories of Harold was how enthusiastic of an Abilene High School fan he was.
Harold never had the opportunity to attend Abilene High School because of segregation in the Key City during his youth, but instead was a graduate of Woodson High School. However, with the help of his service within the Abilene community, Christian got to see his children become Eagles.
Harold’s family started the Abilene barbecue hotspot in 1956. He decided to close the business and retire because of declining health in 2011.
“I think in a lot of ways the restaurant was a microcosm of Abilene,” Williams said. “Harold Christian loved the Lord, his family and this community.”
For Deonna Shake, instructor of kinesiology and nutrition, Harold was an ACU supporter and pillar of the community.
Shake said she occasionally took her class to Harold’s Bar-B-Q.
“I co-taught U-100 with Liz Rotenberry,” Shake said. “Each section of the class was given a stipend to spend on a shared meal and we always knew where to take our class.”
Some memories people have of Harold include his unbelievable barbecue sauce and his hot water cornbread, while for others their fond memory might include Harold’s baritone voice.
“Harold always came out from behind the counter, met our students and then lead us in some singing, or sang a gospel song to us,” Shake said. “Everyone was made to feel welcome and special. You got more than a meal at Harold’s.”
Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at King Solomon Baptist Church, at South Judge Ely Boulevard and Minda Street.