Readers of the Times Free Press were asked to send their favorite memory of their father for Father's Day. The responses run the gamut, from helping with math to playing guitar to simply being the "rock" of the family.
Daddy, thank you so much for our beautiful new house in our new home of Tennessee, for cuddling me at night, making me breakfast on the weekends while Mommy sleeps in, giving me belly smackers, showing me bellyploppers, taking me swimming, taking me hiking, helping me make Mommy crazy, helping make Mommy smile and for being the most patient, kind, sweet, loving daddy ever. Love, your little Bug, Charlotte.
-- Charlotte Knox
Thomas Leslie Lyons
After Mom cleared the dishes, Daddy and I would sit at the table with my high school algebra book. Word problems. Ugh! I'd sigh before I read the problem aloud, "If a train going 90 mph left Buffalo at 10 a.m., and a train going 80 mph left Wichita at 11 a.m., when would they meet?" As soon as I started reading, Daddy, with his famous mechanical pencil, would start to make the problem "seen." While I'd start worry about RxT=D and "knowns on one side, unknowns on the other," he'd always draw a picture of the trains, complete with smokestacks and waving conductors. This added levity to the evening homework. Years later, I made an A in college algebra. Thanks, Daddy.
-- Mary Leslie Tipps
I have always looked up to my dad. He is a rock star to me. He played music all the time, and I looked up to him for it. I wanted to be just like him. He taught me a few songs and, after a lot of practice, I got good at them. So one night he called me and told me to get my guitar ready, he had a surprise for me. He picked me up and took me to open mic night at Bundy's Billiards. I played my heart out. I had so much fun. Thank you, Dad, for being my dad.
-- Anthony Cooper
My dad, my hero. There aren't enough kind words to express my thoughts of my dad. He served our country in World War II. He was always a great provider and protector of our family. As a little girl, I remember always going places with him to fix someone's plumbing, fixing tires, fishing, etc. What a fisherman he was; he could always find the fish. My dad always worked hard and, after retirement, it was always to help out someone. Never have I heard anyone say a harsh word spoken of my dad. Everyone loved him that met him. My hero is in heaven now, my heart breaks for him. But I know that he is reaping his rewards.
-- Susan Norwood Bommer
My dad was born on Jan. 17, 1920. He is 93, and just this week he was repairing a braided rug by sewing the places where it had separated. He still enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs, playing golf and bridge, reading and completing crossword puzzles. Dad is the father of five children -- I'm the fourth. He also has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His legacy to all of us is love, honor, integrity and commitment to family. He and my mom have been married 68 years. I thank him for never doing anything to dishonor his wife and family. Dad taught us to love God, family and country. He also taught us to be honest and to serve others. Thank you, Dad.
-- Becky Cowart Hammond
He taught me unconditional love, how to cross my eyes, give butterfly kisses, how to make a perfect sundae and that there is never such a thing as too much good stuff. This is my first Father's Day without him. Although I know he's celebrating with us, I miss his hugs so much and wish my daughter could spend a second Father's Day with him. He was truly the best dad ever. Happy Father's day, Daddy, I miss you! Love, Caroline aka Poodie.
-- Caroline Knox
Gosh, there are the dozens of hours he spent teaching me how to work on my '65 Mustang as a teenager, the many times he tried teaching me (his most resistant daughter) how to ride a bike, and the oodles of times he carried me off to bed when I fell asleep on the couch as a little girl. I could go on and on. However, one of my most favorite memories of my dad is after I had spine surgery at 17. Every school day of my senior year, he woke me up by rubbing my back. It was a simple kindness that meant so much and really epitomizes the warm heart my dad shares with us every day. I love you, Pooh.
-- April Cox
Benjamin De Forest Lowry Jr.
My father was a loving, trustworthy man. He was my rock to cling to. He was in World War II and sent me postcards, poems and letters -- just a girl from 4 to 6 years old. He was an Eagle Scout at 16 and went on to be a Scoutmaster. Every day was a learning experience, done in a caring way. It was so easy to learn. There was never a lack of hugs and a kind word or a "You did great." He worked hard to support his family. He had enough love and knowledge for many children, but I was blessed to be the one to call him Dad.
-- Patricia Lowry Collier
My dad is an incredible dad. He hasn't missed one performance of over nine musicals and operas, dance recitals and choral performances. My dad has always been there, no matter what the circumstance. He has always been a staple in mine and my brother's lives. Thank you, Dad, for being a dad. We love you.
-- Leigh Wattenbarger
I am so proud of my dad. He has accomplished many things: He was a Boy Scout, a veteran officer of the U.S. Air Force, a master's scholar, a handyman, a business owner and is now a GREAT grandparent and Red Cross Hometown Hero; but to me, he's just Daddy! One of my favorite memories was in eighth grade (after being stationed a year in Italy) my dad helped form an Opera Club at my junior high. Several times that year we would dress up, and he would take a carload of kids downtown to introduce us to that form of entertainment. To this day, I have a love of opera (and all music) and look forward to times we still have a concert date night.
-- Sarah Rowe
Dad was mysterious, quiet and loved speed. He and my brother, Rod, would race other boats while I would be skiing behind the Gold Boat. Dad would pull up beside a boat, look back at me and, if I gave him the thumbs up, would open up both throttles. Man, did that boat fly.
-- Greg Manning
Donald R. Yoho
When I was a child, I went to sleep at night to the sound of my daddy singing the chorus of "An Irish Lullaby":
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby."
Only the chorus was needed because I would go out like a light. My mom always said I went to sleep quickly to avoid hearing him sing ... LOL. My dad passed in 2005 at the age of 84, but "An Irish Lullaby" remains my favorite lullaby.
-- Susan Lipford
Three words come to my mind when I think of my father: sacrifice, commitment and teamwork. My father sacrificed everything in order to care for his family. Small examples: He walked three miles to and from work so my mother could use the car; he used his time to teach a young daughter how to play solitaire. His marriage to my mother, 56 years, is an example of true commitment. Tragedies, sickness, financial problems and emotional issues faced our family, yet he remained committed and strong, a true leader. I learned the importance of teamwork as a family. His legacy will live on for many generations, and his influence is profound.
-- Mary Ketterer
My dad means stability to me. He's my rock in a world that keeps turning. He always looks out and protects me. He's an amazing "papa" to my daughter and he's the only stable man in her life. He always makes sure we have everything we need. Thanks Dad, for being the best dad in the world. Love you.
-- Jess Dawn
Wallace C. McGill
I lost my sweet, dear, 84-year-old Daddy on Jan. 9. I grew up a Baptist preacher's kid, and I loved it. My dad made sure we had a great life -- from fun family vacations at the beach, even though he wasn't a swimmer or a tanner, to making sure we each received a college education, to instilling the love for eating out in all of us. But, most importantly, he taught us how to always look at the glass as half full to overflowing, to love others no matter their ethnicity or religious preferences, and to just simply live, laugh and love. What did my dad do for me? Without really realizing it, he made me a better person just by loving me and living his life each day in the best way possible.
-- Laura McGill Cooper
My dad loved my mom and his children -- Gina, Eddie and Donna -- more than anything in this world. He was a very loving, hardworking and godly man. He always prayed with us each and every day. My favorite prayer to this day is "The Lord's Prayer," which he taught us and said with us every night. I am so thankful for the wonderful memories and time we had with him and the precious memories he left behind with us. I love you, Daddy.
-- Gina Friddell Brown
Our dad served in the South Pacific in World War II, remaining in the Army Reserves and retiring with the rank of colonel. His real service, however, never ended. He loved helping others through his church, Lions Club, Habitat for Humanity, Bachman Home. When President George H.W. Bush's Points of Light honored Bachman Home, our parents represented Bachman at the awards ceremony, sitting on the stage with the president. When their church was to host some regional meetings, Dad, at age 74, convinced Mom (Jane) they could paint the interior of church in the week before the meetings, and they did. A couple of weeks later, Dad died of a stroke. Serving and loving others was his life. Oh, and golf.
-- Joy and Joe L. Scruggs
Being a father is a lifelong commitment to and journey with your children, and my dad proves every day that he is still right by my side. My dad is: A successful man, a faithful provider, a hardworking father and husband, an understanding listener, a responsible teacher, a life coach, a constant cheerleader, a wealth of wisdom, a patriotic citizen, a dependable friend and, of course, a veteran remote controller, a grilling machine and my driving instructor forever. I could not have made it this far in life without the man I call Dad. He is one in a million, and I am forever thankful and blessed he is my dad. I love you.
-- Meghan West
When I was a little girl, my half-sister, Audrey, would play the guitar and sing the song "Daddy's Hands." I remember her telling me that the lyrics embodied our Daddy so well. Audrey passed away in 2006 after a lifelong battle with diabetes and was preceded in death by two of my other half-siblings. My father has buried three children in his life and, while most men might have been crippled with unparalleled grief and despair, my father's faith in God and love for our family has been unwavering. "Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryin'/There was always love in Daddy's hands." I am proud and blessed that Leon Sutherland is my father.
-- Elizabeth Burns
I love when Dad tickles me with the Claw. He teaches me about helicopters and airplanes. I love helicopters! He took me to the airport to see a plane. I love my dad.
-- Lauren Lewis
I love that whenever I play football, he always coaches. I love playing storm chaser with my dad whenever there's a storm. I felt extra special going to The Weather Spotters class with him. My favorite time with my dad was when we used to go and wash the fire trucks (Dad has been a volunteer fireman with the Polk County Fire Department for 20 years)."
-- Brody Lewis
Carl G. Langston
The man I call Dad became my father when I was 15 years old. It's not really an unusual story. My biological parents couldn't care for me properly so I was removed and placed in state custody at 11 years old. I came to live with the Langstons at 15 and have been with them ever since. Here's the kicker: I also have two brothers under similar circumstances whom the Langstons adopted. People who do things like this for children are very rare. They gave me a home, a stable environment and a positive stepstone toward my future. I am now 36 years old with two kids of my own, and my dad is a grandfather -- Poppy as the kids call him. Happy Father's Day, and I love you very much.
-- Vincente Langston
He was born and raised in Hixson, Tenn. He also died there in 1996. He was the best daddy a girl could ask for, a true best friend. In college, when I would get a good grade, I would go to a pay phone (yes, I'm old) and call him collect (he lived in Florida at that time) just to hear him say, "Well done." Of course, I also called him when I got a bad grade to hear, "It's OK, you'll do better next time." He was a pastor most of my childhood but left the church and "came out" when I was 13. He died from complications due to AIDS. I don't want another daughter to have to lose her daddy too soon, so I will work for a cure for HIV/AIDS until the day I take my last breath. I also hope this will be a reminder to be safe and take precautions.
-- Jamie Young
My dad passed away a little over a year ago. Last year was a blur, but this year I am remembering all the things my dad meant to me. My birthday is in June, so it was always Dad and I celebrating our special days together. My dad was the glue that held the family together. Clarence Budington Kelland once said, "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." That was so true of my dad. Dad gave me his World War II dog tags. To him they represented the strength of Americans with love of country and love of freedom. I always wore them to remind me who was always standing behind me with a word of encouragement and support.
-- Suzelle White
Daddy was a gift from God, and I will always be thankful for him. He was unconditional love and a safe harbor when I was afraid. He instilled in me the importance of giving your job or calling your very best. He taught me about respect and accountability, and he did not shy away from giving constructive criticism. Because of him, I believe in standing and speaking up for what is right and decent, even though it may not be the most popular or convenient thing to do. He didn't just speak with words but with his actions. He loved God and wanted to please him. He loved and honored my mother, and my brother and I knew that he would always be there for us. I could talk to him about anything, and I miss him so very much.
-- Sherri Wright
My high school graduation was one of the best days of my life. I just remember how proud he was of me and what a good day that was for my family. I have lots of happy memories of my daddy, but this is one of my favorites. The smile on his face was always the best. I miss you, Daddy, and even though you can't read this today, I know you're still with me. You'll always be my hero, and I love you.
-- Stephanie Casteel
My dad is the measure by which I judge myself as a father. He is the image I have of what it means to live well, to love often and to learn always. He is a professor of "fatherhood," whom I have been diligently studying under since my birth. Most importantly, he has shown me how to be the same father that I adore to a child of my own. My dad is my teacher, and I love him.
-- Thomas J. Coleman III
My father was my hero. His children meant the world to him and they were always first in his eyes. I have a lot of great memories with my father. We went on many road trips together like the "Bonnie & Clyde Festival." We were fans of true crime and spent a lot of time visiting crime sites and talking about the subject. We loved talking about history. He had a fantastic sense of humor. He was a father figure to my friends. I lost him several years ago unexpectedly, and I was heartbroken. He was my rock and the one I could always go to for guidance and wisdom. Happy Father's Day in heaven, Daddy. I love you.
-- Jibbie Stone
My father means the world to me. Last year, a week after his 92nd birthday, my three sisters and I huddled into the funeral car for his home-going service. I passed out pristine, embroidered handkerchiefs just in case we needed to catch some tears. However, we were strong and put brave faces at a last viewing of his body, which had succumbed to the struggles of Alzheimer's. As a U.S. Army representative carefully folded the flag and placed it in my oldest brother's care, he saluted the soldier through his grief-stricken stare. My father, a World War II veteran, was our hero. He touched many lives through his Bible study ministry. Most importantly, he taught us the importance of prayer and the power of love.
-- Fartema M. Fagin
My dad is the greatest and strongest man I know, not to mention he is my best friend in this world. I don't know what I would ever do without him. Thank you, Dad, for being the man I look up to and admire so much. Having you in this world makes it a better place. Love you from the bottom of my heart.
-- Richard Brown
Perhaps a list of character traits is the best way to describe my father. Strength. Stability. Compassionate. Loving. Advisor. Supportive. Truthful. Loyal. Provider. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? No mere human can be all of these things. And yet this is how I see my father. I have the genuine pleasure to be loved unconditionally by my dad and to give unconditional love in return. I see him as the foundation on which I have built my life, keeping with me the lessons he taught me, which is basically, how to be a good human being. I love my father with all my heart. I was, am and always will be, Daddy's girl.
-- Deborah Sue Scalf
Happy Father's Day to our wonderful father, whom we all love and are so blessed to have in our lives. You are a prime example each and every day of what being the best father is. There are really so many wonderful memories; we all are blessed having you in our lives.
-- Kendra, Kara, Justin, Anthony and Jax
My dad is the rock of our family. Dad was the first in his family to go to college, and he worked his way through Georgia Tech. He taught us to work for what we wanted and study hard. With five children, Dad was busy but attended our sporting events and band concerts. He encouraged learning and took us to hunt arrowheads, hiking, the observatory, zoo, battlefields, and even archery class. All five of us went to college, and five of the eight grandchildren have also graduated so far, one with a doctorate, and Dad was there to cheer her on. Dad is retired from DuPont now, but he keeps busy volunteering, ballroom dancing and being with family.
-- Sally Woodward
My favorite memory of my daddy is the day he adopted me and my brother. He rescued us from heartache. I love him and am so thankful for him.
-- Hannah Pulver
David Wayne McKee
My favorite memories of my daddy have to be when we go to car shows and him drag-racing our car and losing the race and even getting to win sometimes. He's our Tim the Tool Man.
-- Alexis McKee