Francis S. Gentile was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1920 and spent his early childhood in the South. His family later relocated to New Jersey, and he attended schools in Carlstadt and Passaic (Drake's Business School). In 1942, Gentile joined the US Marine Corps, where he became an aircraft mechanic for torpedo bombers throughout the Pacific Theater. After the war, Gentile used the GI Bill to attend a trade school for carpentry, and worked various jobs for a variety of companies. Gentile was also self-employed and operated his own business for a number of years.