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Sunday, June 16, 2013


Each year we celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. This is the day that we honor our father’s who are still with us and remember those who are not.

My father is no longer with us.  Dad died in 1986 due to complications from an accident he experienced five years earlier that left him paralyzed from the chest down, but his memory is still with me.  I was junior in college when he was injured and was just twenty-six when he passed away.

Even as a baby Dad was a stylish dresser.

Dad in 1940 sporting a sweater and tie.

There are many things I learned from my Dad and many things that I wish I had paid more attention to.  One of the things I learned from him was to care for the environment.  Dad was born on a farm in Iowa and farming was always part of his life to some degree.  In the later years he worked as a salesman for a livestock feed company, but also continued to farm on the side.  Influenced by Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” Dad was a fan of organic farming, and would always say, “We need to be careful what we put into the earth, because ultimate it comes back to us.” I have always remembered that advise.

Dad served in the Army.

Aside from the environment, there are two other very important things that I learned from him.  First of all, Dad taught me the importance of family, heritage, and tradition.  Our family had been one of the founding families of the small rural town I grew up near and for well over a century and a half my relatives have lived in that area.  From my Dad I inherited my love of genealogy, and I could often be found visiting the local cemeteries to track and catalog our family tree.  That appreciation of lineage and heritage, and the traditions that go along with them, has been a major influence in my life. 

Early picture of Dad with the ever present tie.

The other thing I learned from my Dad was the importance of dressing nicely and being well kept.  I don’t remember a time when he left the house to attend any sort of gathering that he didn’t wear a tie.  For Dad, taking the time to dress nicely was fundamental.  It showed that you cared and was also a sign of respect for the people you were with.  He was also quick to remind us how important even the smallest a details are – having the right “dimple” in your tie knot, making sure your clothes are clean and pressed, and taking the time to shine your shoes.  Paying attention to these small details was just a part of his life, and has become a part of my life as well.

Dad is second front the left in the back row in this family portrait 
from the 1940's.  I love the suits and ties from this era.

My father has been gone for twenty-seven years now, but his lessons and influences are still a treasured part of who I am.  As we celebrate Father’s Day, I’m remembering the man who taught me the importance of heritage, style, and tradition, while showing me the need to ensure that the beauty of our earth may be enjoyed for generations to come.  Happy Father’s Day Dad!

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