FRANK A. PANTANO could brew up a mean soup. Split pea, corn chowder, peanut. You name it.

He would plow through recipe books, follow the instructions, then improvise.

The soups went well with the crab or clam feasts he supervised at the family home in Sea Isle City on many a happy summer day, with an extended family and friends digging in.

"He was our chef," said his daughter Janice M. Pantano.

Frank Pantano, who co-founded a certified public accounting firm and was in demand for his tax expertise by family and friends, an Army veteran of World War II, a champion fund-raiser for Holy Child Academy, in Drexel Hill, and a man devoted to his children and grandchildren, died Saturday of leukemia.

He was 80 and lived in West Chester.

Frank grew up near the 9th Street Italian Market in South Philadelphia, the son of Paolo and Paola Pantano, who came from Ferla, Sicily.

His father arrived in the United States in 1913 and served in the American Army in World War I.

His mother arrived in 1920, and they were married in 1921.

Frank graduated from South Philadelphia High School. During the war he served in the Philippines.

Afterward he used the GI Bill to pay for his education at Temple University. He graduated in 1950.

He earned his CPA certification in 1957, and co-founded Ranier & Co., an accounting firm, shortly thereafter.

He was associated with the company for nearly 50 years.

"Frank truly loved his career as a CPA and tax specialist and so he did not stop working after retiring from the firm," his family said.

"Trusted and valued by his family and friends, Frank was called on regularly for financial advice and tax work."

In fact, his daughter Janice said her father's computer was filled with 2006 tax information for his customers at his death.

Frank was active with Holy Child Academy for 35 years. Both Janice and his other daughter, Maryann P. Davis, were graduates.

He was a longtime member of the school's board of trustees.

He lent his financial expertise to the academy sisters to help them administer the school.

He retired from the board in 1999, but continued to advise the administrators.

He was a "relentless Holy Child cheerleader," his family said, and was a champion fund-raiser.

In fact, he was credited with raising more money for the school than any other person in its history.

Frank had few hobbies. He didn't have the time. "His passion was his work," his daughter said.

Frank and his wife of 55 years, the former Rose Massimini, enjoyed traveling, and took trips back to his parents' hometown in Sicily, where some family members remained. They also traveled through Europe, cruised the Mediterranean and the Caribbean and visited Alaska.

"He was always joking around," Janice said. "Up until the day he died."

Frank also is survived by three brothers, Michael, Joseph and Salvatore "Sam"; a sister, Grace Pantano; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Services: Funeral Mass 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at Ss. Peter and Paul Church, 1325 Boot Road, West Chester. Friends may call at 7 tonight at the Robert L. D'Anjolell Memorial Home of Broomall, 2811 West Chester Pike, Broomall, and at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Child Academy, 475 Shadeland Ave., Drexel Hill PA 19026. *