Chris Hamad’s funeral Mass is Friday morning, and a few hours after the Mass ends, his Rockne’s Pub in West Akron will reopen for business.

He would have wanted it that way, with his loyal patrons, his friends, “just enjoying everything he built and the community that he embraced,” said his son Chris Hamad, 32, who manages the bar and restaurant on Merriman Road. On Friday, the restaurant will open at 2 p.m.

Mr. Hamad, 59, died Tuesday at his home in Cuyahoga Falls. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last January.

His Rockne’s, with its family feel, quickly became an Akron institution after opening in the late 1980s in an old brick building. It has long been a haunt of some area politicians.

“He loved the business. He loved all the people,” his son said. “We’d be in the middle of a lunch rush and he’d be out there talking to everybody and we couldn’t get him back into the kitchen to do his job” expediting orders.

The people loved him back. A benefit for him at Tangier restaurant in Akron last spring drew some 800 to 900 people.

“He was a good soul,” his son said, noting his father liked to quietly help others.

Mr. Hamad grew up in the business. For years, his father — Naser Hamad —and uncles owned area restaurants bearing the family name. Mr. Hamad hung around his father’s place and worked various jobs at Tangier.

After graduating from Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron in 1975, Mr. Hamad enrolled at the University of Akron, intending to become a history teacher, but he quit before graduating.

Eventually, he opened a bar in Akron’s Merriman Valley and bought a bar near the university. Then he was asked to become a partner when the owners of the first Rockne’s decided to open a second place at Merriman and West Market Street.

After a few years, he bought the partners out. The business is a franchise. His wife, Sandy, and he mother, Peggy, continue to work at Rockne’s.

His son Chris Hamad said his father, while spending long hours at work, “would do anything for us kids.

In 2009, he decided to go back to the University of Akron and complete 20 hours to get a degree. He wanted to set an example for two of his six children to complete their educations.

Mr. Hamad got his degree — in science/sports management — in 2010. An avid local sports fan, Mr. Hamad had played football at the University of Akron.

His community activities included serving on the board of the Akron-Summit County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as president of the United Saghbeen Society, named for a town in Lebanon where Mr. Hamad’s father was born. The nonprofit group raises money to support a school there.

In addition to his wife, Sandy, of 34 years, and son Chris of Akron, Mr. Hamad is survived by sons Jon and Adam, both of Cuyahoga Falls, and daughters Tana Ruester, Kara Louis and Karli Brennan, all of Akron.

Calling hours will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Our Lady of the Cedars, 507 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road, Fairlawn.

Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Bernard’s in downtown Akron.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.