Father of the Year nomination letters

Nominee: Chad Cornwell (winner)
Cooperative: EnerStar Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Breanne Like (niece)

What does it mean to be a father? For some it means the man that is relation to his natural born children but for me this role takes on a whole new meaning. The man who has been my father since I was 13 years old is my blood relation, but he is not my biological father, he is my uncle. I lost my mother when I was a year old and went to live with my grandparents. My grandfather passed away when I was 6 and my grandmother passed when I was 13, leaving me to either move to another state with family or guardianship be given to my, at the time, 29-year-old uncle. I don’t know many men at this age that would jump at the opportunity to adopt a 13-year-old girl, but he never hesitated to take me in and actually refused to let me be placed anywhere else. It was a huge learning process and a long road for both of us and believe me we didn’t always see eye to eye but through it all he stood by my side, encouraged me and pushed me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. As any other lineman’s child knows, there are a lot of odd hours between call outs, storm travel and just the day to day needs of an electric coop but my “father” did everything in his power to not miss anything I was involved in. For him I know a lot of the activities I was in were not his favorites but that never stopped him from being there to watch everything and cheer me on. There are so many times that he would show up in the work truck or in his work clothes just, so he didn’t miss anything including being at my first prom to get pictures with me in full lineman attire. There hasn’t been a single time that he has let me down. When I graduated from the University of Illinois, I can’t tell you who was more proud but I knew I would have never made it without him. He is the one who walked me down the aisle and now he is anticipating the arrival of my first baby and becoming a “grandpa”. He now has 3 biological children of his own but that has not changed a thing and he is an even more amazing father to them. Just like all the years he spent being at my activities, he never misses anything that his kids are in. His world revolves around his kids and there is nothing in this world that would change that. I can honestly say that I don’t know where I would be today, but I know I wouldn’t be where I am without him. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if he hadn’t stepped in. He is my best friend and he will always father of the year to me.


Nominee: Naresh Ahuja
Cooperative: Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Kabeer Ahuja (son)

I am supposed to talk about my father, but instead, I will talk about my Dad, the difference being that father is my biological parent, but Dad is your friend who guides you through life and emotionally supports you. Some people take their Dads for granted, but I’m grateful to have a father that is also my Dad.

My dad isn’t the typical adult that goes to work and does their daily routine, my dad saves lives on a daily basis. Yes, you read right, my dad goes to work and operates on patients every day. One time, my dad was on vacation and a call came in while he was spending quality time with his family, and instead of sending the call to someone else who could take care of it, he took it as his responsibility and did everything in his power to help save a precious life. Even with his work, he makes time to spend with us in the evening.

In the morning, he wakes up around 5:00 A.M. and takes care of all the bills and other housework needed to be taken care of and somehow is able to study to get a license for flying, which is another reason I admire him. My Dad is able to juggle around all of his activities and get a flying license just so we can travel around the country and explore new places.

My Dad also helps with life experiences, like if I’m doing something wrong, he tells me what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it, maybe he’ll even tell a story about how he had a similar situation before and how he fixed it, always adding humor so It’s fun to hear.

My Dad also respects elders, like when his eldest brother and his family came to town from another country, he threw a huge party and took them to Las Vegas. These are a few reasons I want to become like my dad when I grow up.

Sometimes, when my mom is a little strict on me, my Dad chimes in and helps me negotiate with my mom so I can get the work done that she wants me to do and I can have fun.

These are only a few of the reasons that my Dad should have the title of “Father of the Year.”


Nominee: Michael Anderson
Cooperative: EnerStar Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Jason Anderson (son)

My dad is a very special person. He would go out of his way to help anyone. He served in the Army – Vietnam 1970-1973. I went through a bad divorce, and he lets me live here at the house. I do everything I can to help both of my parents, but I thought this would be a good time to tell you how great a guy I have for a father. He worked in Terre Haute for Commercial Solvents for 30 years. Then they sent it to Mexico, so he was out of a job. He then got a job at TRW. He worked there for 15 years and retired. Over the years he has taught me so much about life. I hope someday I can be like my father. He is one great man to be proud of.


Nominee: Jamie Billington
Cooperative: EnerStar Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Amanda Billington (wife)

Jamie is a Manufacturing Engineer at North American Lighting in Paris, IL. He is a step-father to Jeremy Hughes. He deserves the Father of the Year award for 2018 because he is such a hard-working, dedicated father and husband.  He has been such an amazing role model, best friend and so involved with Jeremy such as a biological father would be to their son or daughter.  Jamie has shown Jeremy how to fish, farm, hunt and so much more. They always have some type of project they are working on together; recently they built a boat out of a wood chunk for a class project Jeremy was working on at school. They really enjoy spending time together. They love to play basketball, football and Xbox together. In 2017, Jamie went and spoke with Jeremy’s class about his work that he does at NAL and showed them a headlight that he helped manufacture.  This was very rewarding to Jamie to be able to show Jeremy and his classmates the importance of going to college and being able to have a career in a job that you enjoy going to every day.  Jamie is such a wonderful father to Jeremy. He is teaching Jeremy to become a responsible, hard-working and dedicated person while teaching him basic and complex skills for his life endeavors for his future.  He deserves this award because it takes one special father to step up in a place of a biological father. Jamie has done this and way beyond for Jeremy. You would never know that Jamie is just a step-father. This takes one extraordinary person to make this happen. Jeremy and I are so lucky to have such a wonderful father for Jeremy. There are no words that can describe the bond Jamie and Jeremy have.


Nominee: Brian Burkybile
Cooperative: Norris Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Caden Burkybile (son)

My name is Caden Burkybile. I am 10 years old and I have a very special father. His name is Brian Burkybile. He has been married to my mom Tiffany for 13 years. I also have a brother Blake, he’s 7 and a sister Ava, age 3.

My dad serves on the Casey Township Board as a trustee. He attends monthly meetings and helps in decisions to better our neighborhood.

My family attends the Casey Westside Church of Christ where my dad teaches classes, preaches some and helps me with the mowing around the building in the summertime. Our congregation is very important to dad and his family.

My dad helps my Aunt Sara Hosfield, our 4-H leader with different activities for our club, the Casey Achievers.

Dad helps me with my 4-H pigs. Last summer we built a new building for my pigs.

Dad also is a member of the Midwest truckers association. This helps him to keep up to date on all of the rules he has to follow for his trucking business. He is the owner and operator of Burkybile Trucking. The Maschhoff Family pork farm is his biggest customer. He hauls feed from their mill at Carlyle, Illinois to their many locations in Illinois and Indiana. He leaves home between 4 and 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. He’s always home every night between 5 and 6 p.m. to be with his family.

My dad has helped coach baseball for me and my brother. When we aren’t playing ball for our teams we like to be at home playing ball in our yard. Dad plays with us and helps us practice to get better!

My dad also lets us ride in his semi to the pig farm close to our house. A couple times I’ve gotten to ride with him all day long. He shows me how the system on his trailer works and lets me use the remote control to move the auger.

Every year my dad also takes us on vacation. Last year we went to Gatlinburg in the spring with my dad’s side of the family! We rode lots of go carts together! Then in November we rode in an airplane together for the first time to Florida. We got to spend that vacation with my mom’s family and went to Disney World.

My dad deserves to win this prize because he works very hard for our family. My mom is able to stay home with us because he’s such a hard worker. He really deserves this prize, he’s a very special dad!


Nominee: Gregg Carr
Cooperative: Corn Belt Energy
Nominated by: Heather Baker (daughter)

My dad is father of the year every year. He is a giver, a hard worker, and a fighter. He gives all he has to his family, his friends and neighbors, and anyone else who asks. He is always there to cheer my brother and me up, he is our shoulder to cry on and our sounding board when navigating the difficulties of life. Being from a farming community, and a farmer himself, he often helps his neighbors. He helps them finish harvest or planting, plows out their driveways in the winter, and helps when they are sick. He cared for a friend for many years who following a swimming accident became a quadriplegic. He would visit with him every week and help get him in and out of bed. His interest in caring for others led him to join the local ambulance service. He started as a driver and soon after took EMT training.

My dad has worked hard his entire life. Along with his father and brother, he ran the family farm raising hogs and cows and growing corn and soybeans. He also held many secondary jobs throughout his life. He was an editor of a magazine, a radio DJ, worked at the local telephone company, ran a political campaign for a friend, and sat on the boards of the grain company and the school district.

Over the years he has also had a passion for writing and acting in plays and musicals to raise money for the education foundation. My dad is a man of many talents and has a strong love for life. He and his brother finally decided to retire two years ago. My dad and mom were so excited to finally have unlimited time to travel the world and do everything that had been put on the back burner over the years. However, just months after having retired my dad was admitted to the hospital. They found several pulmonary embolisms in his lungs as well as a mass. It was stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. Our family was distraught. The rock of our family was sick, how would the rest of us cope without him.

Even when facing this overwhelming news, my dad was still the strong one and held the rest of us together. He has kept his positive attitude, strong spirit and his laugh through most of his battle. He set small goals to keep himself motivated to keep fighting through all the pain and side effects of chemo and radiation. His first goal was my wedding, he wanted to be there to walk me down the aisle. He accomplished not only that, but he also practiced a choreographed dance for our father daughter dance and surprised me by serenading me prior to our dance. It made the day 100 times more special and is something I will always cherish. He then set a goal to make it to Vegas for his 42nd anniversary with my mom to take her to see Cher and Jennifer Lopez which was a dream of hers. A few months after that I told him I was expecting his first grandchild, which gave him a new goal. Even while fighting his toughest days yet, being hospitalized for 19 days, he kept fighting to see his precious granddaughter.

Throughout his diagnosis, he has helped countless others who are also fighting this disease. He started a blog and wrote a book, and these have helped him meet many fellow cancer fighters. They have been inspired by his outlook on life, his ability to keep laughing, and his faith. He has prayed with them, given advice to those just starting their battle, and gotten some out of the depression that comes with this battle.


Nominee: Chris Creswell
Cooperative: Menard Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Hannah Creswell (daughter)

He is a hardworking man for our family.


Nominee: Robert DeVous
Cooperative: SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Catherine DeVous (daughter)

My dad Robert E. DeVous began taking care of his six living siblings at the age of 20 after his father died of a heart attack. His mother was left alone at a very young age. He also cared for her financially.

I was born in 1965. At that age my dad realized he could not support his own family without a college degree. He began college at SIC in Harrisburg, IL and graduated at the U of IL five years later.

While working part time, he finished 2nd in his class with a degree in mechanical engineering. His name still hangs on the wall in the U of I library. My mom supported our family during these 5 years (I was taught the simple thing in life mean most!!)

Dad can and still does, at the age of 72, take care of his 2 living brothers (not money wise but advice on failing cars, trucks, electrical etc.). Dad is a naturalist, takes only 1 script med and walks 1.5 miles daily.

I got Lupus in 2008, he has helped me mentally. Often, he is my rock!! He logged 27 trees, so I could put a mobile home on his property for my safety.

He has built his own log splitter and small generator prior to power outages.

He worked for Amax Coal Company near Marion, IL maintaining the 2nd largest dragline in the USA for over 30 years, then at GE for 2 years prior to retiring very young.

My dad is truly like no other, heart like gold and still a genius at 72!!

Please honor him for giving his life to his family and the coal you need to supply electric service to Southern IL.


Nominee: Andrew Duren
Cooperative: Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Tyler Duren (grandson)


Nominee: Charlie Evans
Cooperative: Shelby Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Joya Evans (daughter)

This man has worn a uniform for as long as I can remember. He worked a full-time job along with working for the ambulance service, being chief of police in a couple different towns, along being on the rescue squad as captain. He has saved numerous lives. He has helped keep the streets safe at night, has put up with stupid people to simply do what he loves to do, help people and provide for his family. He has witnessed many tragedies, rescued people from trapped vehicles, calmed civilians down in a time of crisis etc. He is a father, brother, son, uncle, grandfather to many. That’s my dad.


Nominee: Dick Ford
Cooperative: Jo-Carroll Energy
Nominated by: Claire Crawford (Friend)

He belongs to the Kiwanis Club – former President, Makes Pancakes for the Pancake Breakfast and heads up the Marching Spatulas (Kiwanis Men) for the Doo Dah Parade.  He also heads up the Marching Shovels for the Lighted Holiday Parade (Kiwanis Men).  Dick’s team bowls the sponsors contribute $500 for spastic paralysis. Dick is a 50 year + member of the First Congregational Church – Building Committee (former Deacon, former Search committee), He helps greet and serve treats to older members of the congregation.  Dick is a donor to the Church, Library, Kiwanis but more than that Dick makes you laugh and feel welcome.  My dad passed away in 2011 and he was amazing!  He was salesman of the year for the company he worked for 46 years and co-captain of his college football team.  He was definitely a people person and I missed him dearly.  When I joined Kiwanis and the First Congregational Church I met Dick and his wonderful wife Barbara and his whole family.  They are funny, kind, and caring. Dick reminds me so much of my dad.  Dick wears the Christmas tie at Christmas with the Christmas socks. He is a huge Iowa State fan and makes you laugh.  He enjoys life!

I work at the library and we had a sign delivered.  The delivery man could not get our new sign off his truck.  That sign weighed about 1000 pounds.  He asked me if the library had a forklift?  What library has a forklift?  We needed this sign and the driver needed to get going.  What was I going to do?  I called Dick and in 5 minutes a forklift drove into the library.  He would not take any money.  He is just that type of person.  He is kind, generous, caring, and just lots of fun to be around.  He and his wonderful family are very community minded.  I know Dick is involved in many other organizations I know nothing about, but he is a very dynamic individual.  He also leads our singing at Kiwanis on Tuesday night.  No one wants to sing but Dick makes them, and they always feel better after they sing!  Dick cheers people up and who doesn’t love that!  Dick is very deserving of any award he might receive.  He is very modest and humble, but he does so much for so many!


Nominee: Eric Higgs
Cooperative: Norris Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Tami Higgs (wife)

I would like to nominate my husband, Eric Higgs as Father of the Year. The reason that he deserves to be Father of the Year, is that he does not just love his children every now and then, it’s a love without ever ending.

No matter if it is 3 AM at the horse barn, getting my daughter’s horses ready with her for the many horse shows she goes to every year, or if it is driving the horse trailer throughout the entire night to bring her to horse shows many states away from where we live, he is full on, going to the end of the earth for his family.

It is through the bitter cold winters, that he is down at the barn with her, encouraging her as she trains and practices and conditions her horse, Simon.

It is in the 100-degree hot humid dangerous days that he is out baling hay to feed his daughter’s horse.

It is through the late nights that he attends every basketball game for our son. It is not just sitting in the stands, either, it is keeping knowledgeable and up to date on photographing and videoing every single game. It is keeping stats and encouraging our son in his interests. You see Eric’s main love has been baseball, but baseball he has not even seen a game in 10 years, because his heart is for our son, and building him up in the interests that he pursues, instead of forcing dad’s passion onto him.

It is through the Boy Scouts camps years ago, in 20-degree weather that he slept in a tent with our son.

It is going out every Saturday when other dads are sleeping in, Eric is out chopping wood to keep our family warm.

It is being a spiritual leader of our family. By showing our kids how to be a loving serving, very smart, extremely selfless daddy, he deserves to be Father of the Year. He shows our kids how to love their mom, above all else. Helping out when he can, being Jesus with skin on. No matter how tired he is, he serves us without complaining or showing that he is tired.

He used his very own two hands to build our house. Not many dad’s labor and literally work their fingers to the bone, so that their family will have a shelter and a nice home to call their own.

Lastly, the huge reason that he should be Father of the Year. You see most dad’s do not go into their kids’ school every single day that school is in session and then some. Puts on his bullet proof vest, wondering if this will be the day that an active shooter comes into our school and he must put his life on the line for the school children. He is the school resource officer for 16 years. He keeps a watchful eye for children sex offenders lurking in our school playground, he has close relationships with the school kids, he develops these relationships so that he positively influences them more than any other person. He teaches them safety and he teaches them to avoid making terrible life changing decisions. He works with parents and teachers and administrators with discipline problems, visiting the homes of students. When a single mom cannot get her child to school, guess who comes to her house to lend a helping hand, convincing the child to go ahead and go to school? It is Eric Higgs, who should be Father of the Year. Not many dads put themselves out on the line so that school children are safe. He is the heart behind the badge.

Please consider Eric Higgs who really is the Father of the Year because there are no other dad’s that go to the selfless length that he does for his family. There are other good dad’s out there, but you will not find one that is as selfless as Eric Higgs, 24/7/365 this daddy loves and serves his family.

Thank you for considering him, he is the best!


Nominee: Randy Hockman
Cooperative: Western Illinois Electrical Coop.
Nominated by: Bali (daughter)

I do not thank my dad enough for what he does for me and my family. He helps out anyway he can and never complains.


Nominee: Dean Hotze
Cooperative: Norris Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Sara Lane (daughter)

I am writing to nominate a very deserving father for the 2018 Father of the Year by Illinois Country Living.

Dean Hotze, is proud 3rd generation family farm owner residing in Teutopolis, IL. Dean is also the proud father of 5 children (1 boy and 4 girls) and 8 grandchildren.  When I started to think about writing this submission, I started to think about all the things that this man has given up but more so what he has done with the many years of being a father and grandfather.

In thinking about all the things Dean has done over his life, let’s start with Farmer.

He is a farmer- he is not the traditional, “a person who owns or manages a farm” Dean is much more than a farmer.  Dean along with his children have seen the farm through its ins and outs. Dean grew up on the very same farm that he is now teaching life lessons to with his grandchildren. All of Dean’s 5 kids, helped daily on the farm from milking cows, to helping with summer baling, or taking a stroll on a Sunday afternoon with the convertible or 4-wheeler to look at the crops. Back then we thought of them as ‘chores’ but as we grew older, we found our father was instilling a work ethic that would prove beneficial to all 5 of us successful kids.

Let’s take a look at one recent specific example that we all helped with from day 1 of this project. Dean wanted to restore/update the original Hip Roof Barn that was still standing from the original home place. Dean took on this adventure with all of his kids, grandkids, family and friends by his side. We all had our assigned jobs when we came out to help. Whether it be taking pictures to capture the progress, picking up nails, ripping off old tin, painting, keeping cows away or just simply bringing out lunch for a break, we experienced this magnificent transformation together as a family. There were dirty fingers, sweaty clothes, many long nights, and many memories shared through this magical transformation with our father. To see my father’s eyes light up at the completion was more heart filling that you will ever know. This one piece of his past will now continue into many more generations of this family farm.  Because of you dad, this piece of our history will carry with us.

Next, while most kids enjoyed playing at the parks, having fun at the pool on a Saturday afternoon or going to the movies every night, we experienced all of these but in a much different light. Our park was the farm. Climbing and building mazes through the straw bales on the barn loft, or swimming at the family pond or simply sitting on the driveway after a long hard day’s work enjoying conversation and star light fire pit nights. These are the nights that I still live for after 34 years. Many memories were started, shared and ended with our driveway nights. One that I continue to long for and want my kids to be a part of with their grandfather as well.  My dad still tells of the few summer draughts but one in particular of Summer 2012. Unless you lived that summer with my father, you wouldn’t know how many nights he shed tears, in his own presence, never one in front of his kids. He knew that his crops, livestock, holidays and birthday would not be quite the same. But you would never know by the picture with his grandkids dancing in the rain. This picture was captured by his daughter Tracey, and it reminds us of not the bad things that happened that year, but all of the great things enjoyed in that split moment of time. The looks on his grandkids faces made all of the worry, hurt and sleepless nights fall behind the scenes. This how we remember 2012 and Dean will never let us forget that.

The below pictures summarize all that my dad has taught, endured and continues to live through on a daily basis. His truth, trust, perseverance, and commitment have translated to a hard-working family that will support you through anything that life throws at you. Together we can do anything with your hand by our side. Cheers to many more memories with us, the grandkids and the adventures that lie ahead for all of us to enjoy. Love you til the cows come, Dustin, Sara, Tracey, Stephanie, Shelby and all of the little ones following in your footsteps.


Nominee: Jeff Jackson
Cooperative: Menard Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Alyssa, Marlana, Matthew, Esneider Jackson (Children)

My dad is the best because he likes to play with me and he taught me how to go fishing. He also takes care of our family. And he teaches me lessons. –Esneider, age 12

I love my dad because he works very hard to feed us. He uses his time very wisely. He wakes up early and starts his day by working on the stock market. Then after that he heads to work and works till 4 o’clock in the evening. He us bought a very nice Lake house. He also bought a nice boat for our family. He spends Sundays with us. He plays Wiffleball, basketball, and football with us. He is the assistant coach for my basketball team. He takes us on vacation and he takes us to fun places. He likes to go fishing. He takes us on hikes. He buys us furniture and clothes. We don’t know about you, but we think he’s the number one dad! -Matthew, age 12

I am 21 years old and I can honestly say my dad is the best dad ever. When I was little he always took time to play with my sister and I seem do that with my brothers. When I was growing up I played many sports and my dad was always there to coach, practice, with and encourage me. He’s a Christian man and has brought us all up going to church every Sunday and honoring God first. He is hardworking and when I get my work ethic from. He is good with finances and has taught us all how to spend and save and tithe wisely. I love my dad’s sense of humor. He’s not afraid to have fun. I remember one time he rode the grocery cart all the way to the car, and a bystander commented how everyone should have that child-like energy. Another memory I have my dad his one time at soccer practice, he told my teammates he would do a round off if we completed a drill within a certain amount of time. I laughed and said, “Guys he’s not gonna do it if he knows he would end up in the hospital.” But sure enough—he did a round off right there on the soccer field. My jaw stayed dropped for quite some time. My dad loves to have fun, but he can be serious too. One of the greatest examples he has set is that of caring for his parents. My grandparents passed away in the last few years but up until they very last breath my dad cared so well for them. He did whatever needed to be done for them whether that was finances or cooking or shopping or just talking. He loved them well, and I hope I can love my dad that well. Not just when he’s old and gray, but today and every day. Because my dad is the best dad ever. –Alyssa, age 21

My dad deserves to be father of the year because of his constant and loving commitment to his family. He has demonstrated this commitment by investing in quality time with his children and in showing what it means to be a good husband. Whether in activities such as sports or in the day-to-day tasks and routines of life, he shows his family the love of a good father. After coming home from a long day at work, my dad makes it a priority to spend time with his family. Now that I am living away from home and working a job of my own, I appreciate more than ever the time we spent having dinner together with our whole family almost every evening growing up. The chats about daily life and important ideas remain in my memory and are still a highlight of my trips back home. After dinner, we would often play a game together or get help with homework. I could name the many roles my dad has played – from soccer, basketball, and softball coach to church leader, homeschool history teacher, and financial advisor – but what stands out the most is the daily decision to put his family first. In his faithful commitment to us, my dad demonstrates the love of our Heavenly Father, and this is truly the best gift a father can give his children. -Marlana, age 24


Nominee: Carl Kessler
Cooperative: Norris Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Ginger Osborne (friend)

Carl Kessler has been a very kind, caring, soft spoken, hard working person all his life. Carl and his wife, Judy (Smithhenry) Kessler, were blessed with seven children. Carl raised pigs and farmed 400 acres, mostly planting soybeans on a farm located at 6715 N Jesse Road, Dundes, Ill. 62425.

Carl has been active in Wendelin Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus organization for many years. In later years, Carl and Judy Kessler moved into Olney, IL. They sold their farm to their son, Anthony Kessler and his wife Kristi, who are carrying on the farm life legacy.

Carl served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in San Antonio, Texas. He took training to work as a medic in the military. He was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston Army base at the “Burn Center of the World.”

Carl was a man who could be counted on by his wife and children. He saw to his children’s education very closely, knowing that education was the core to a better future and happier life.

Carl Kessler gives very generously to others financially and gives generously of his time also.

Carl’s present interest are his children and grandchildren. His wife, Judy, died March 2, 2017 and since that time has taken interest in and enjoys country music. It raises his spirits. He has also taken some dance lessons and dances at St. Marie, IL at their parish hall for their Monday night dances. It is very good exercise and a “spirit” raiser. Also, Carl Kessler takes time to attend the first and third Friday evening dances when possible at the VFW in Olney, IL. Both of these dancing events are soft drinks and water only crowd.

If you met Carl Kessler on the street, he would greet you with a great big warm smile and put joy in your heart.

If Carl Kessler though you were in need of help, he would show up to help you early on! Carl has a great deal of compassion for others.

For about the last twenty years, Carl has cared for his wife, Judy, night and day. Judy had several strokes and became “bed fast.: For the last five years, Judy has been in Onley, IL. Hospital in long term care. Carl was by her side every day visiting at the hospital. Now Carl continues to visit the sick he had met when Judy was in the hospital. They became his friends.

Carl was educated in the country schools taught by nuns around Wendelin, IL.

Carl lets his many grandchildren have the “run of his house” when they come with their parents. He has a big basement that is full of games, cars to ride, ping pong table, and other entertaining things for them to enjoy. They look forward to coming to Grandad’s house.

Carl attends his grandson, Scott’s, basketball games and track meets at St. Joseph’s school in Oleny, IL and most of the school programs of all the grandchildren that are near Onley, IL.  Where he lives.


Nominee: Gary Kohler
Cooperative: Monroe County Electric Co-Operative
Nominated by: Shirley Kohler (mother)

Gary is the father of triplets. Sam, Ben and Gracie are 12 years of age. He farms and spends as much time as he can at their school and church activities. He has a wonderful wife Michell. She is a lady.


Nominee: John Livingston
Cooperative: Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Patrick Livingston (son)

“While every father is special, some are just extraordinary…” This is the story of one father who deserves that distinction.

John Livingston is known in the community for a lot of reasons. Some of the reasons stem from his willingness to help his family, which is noble. Some reasons are more light hearted, like showing a fun-natured spirit that honors play time as well as work time. Other reasons are steeped in a deep respect for his talents. All of them add up to the making of a great man. I’d like to share what makes him deserving of Illinois Country Living magazines’ “2018 Father of the Year”.

Family first.

Growing up in the Coles-Moultrie electric cooperative territory, John learned some key lessons in making do with what you have. Growing up in a rural community, with unforgiving seasons, and the hardships of the post-depression era, he became disciplined and sharp. Those constraints are what helped him discover his creative talent. Over time, this helped develop an impressive problem solver. Doing more with less teaches valuable lessons. What makes him so extraordinary is the work to impart that wisdom on his children. As a loving husband to his wife for over 61 years, they raised nine healthy children. All of them self-reliant, with strong ethics and a drive to continue his legacy.

He shaped all nine kids and this opportunity to recognize him speaks to his lifetime of achievements. He is a provider, sure, but the real value is in the lessons he teaches. Through his dedication to family and work, his sacrifice helped instill important life skills. His leadership created discipline, values and fair judgment.

Community counts.

John is a role model for accountability. He is dedicated to the community, and knows our land is integral to our way of life. As a steward of the land and resources around him, he makes the best use of the environment. Out of respect for the native species of the area he established a Nature Preserve Quail Habitat.

Great fathers instill that same dedication to the community and pass along the value of the cooperative spirit. This father of the year is helping shape future generations to come.

As a member of the Carpenter’s Union he learned a trade skill. His skill was honed, and he became a noteworthy craftsman. Over time he became a construction superintendent. During those working years he shaped the community by building key pillar institutions like university buildings, hospitals, churches, and interstate rest areas for site-seeing travelers.

John is also a member of the Montrose community church. He is regarded by his family as one of the best, but fellow parishioners and friends would agree that he deserves this prestigious title. His life-long commitment to family values, and cooperative values, are the lasting roots of our community.


Nominee: Scott Marquardt
Cooperative: Monroe County Electric Co-Operative
Nominated by: Sharon Marquardt & Austin Scheel (wife and son)

Scott entered our lives a decade ago and we had no clue what an immense impact he would have on us. The constant growth of his love continues to overwhelm me. My idea of love has always been broad, but Scott’s is very deep. That’s one of his many traits that has always given me armor- not only as a husband, but as a loving father. He stepped in and became the man he never had to be…. Austin’s Dad.

Scott’s fetching childhood stems from the hearty land of Wisconsin. His family is the most nurturing and hardworking group of folks I’ve ever encountered. Their welcoming demeanor is so easy to fall in love with and it’s no wonder why Austin and I attached ourselves to them so quickly.

Every conversation he has with our boy, he ensures a lesson has been molded within it. Always delicately delivered, he shares his values on fairness in all life’s challenges, how to be grateful for the little things, and remembering when to embrace the big triumphs as well. Whether it’s a second try at homework or eating everything on the dinner plate-he teaches discipline and tough love, which we don’t see too often anymore. His patience as a dad is earnest.

Scott has coached Austin to treat others equally and how to cope with failure, even when it hurts. Our son has learned how to skillfully compete in basketball, baseball, football & wrestling because of Scott’s devotion to him. These are sports, as a worrisome mother, I could never encourage alone (true story).

Not only does he excel in parenthood, he also shines in the aviation industry. Scott has been an aviator for over twelve years and has brought to life many projects and events within the Southern Illinois community. He is the manager of Sparta Aero Services, Inc, and was awarded ‘Airport of the Year 2017’ by the Illinois Department of Transportation for his dedication and ambition to broaden the local scope. He has trained our twelve-year old son, Austin, to fly an aircraft, as well as inspired and licensed dozens of others to spread their wings and soar the skies…literally.

In 2014, Scott launched the birth of Sparta Aero’s Annual Flight Fest and it continues to evolve each year, bringing the community together to learn and develop the same passions he holds so dear to himself. He is a humble individual and enjoys sharing his ethics of selflessness and I truly hope his acts can be recognized and celebrated, for his heart knows no boundaries and his dreams have no limits. There is always a sense of honor after crossing his path- I honestly believe that.

This man not only deserves the ‘Father of the Year Award’, but also father of a lifetime! We are truly blessed to have such a patient and caring individual in our lives choosing to take care of us.

Thank you for your time, consideration and for offering this amazing award to many other fathers that are so deserving.


Nominee: Eric W McCartney
Cooperative: Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Abigail March (Wife)

Many think of a trucker as just someone that brings supplies and hauls equipment where it is needed but when I think of a trucker I think about a very special man. That special man’s name is Eric McCartney. 5 years ago, this man changed not only my life but my three children’s life. He not only came into my life but brought his son into my life and stepped in when he didn’t have to as a father. Three years ago, we brought a baby girl into our crazy fun filled family. If you ask him why he drives hell tell you that he does it for his five children and myself. Eric is not only a father but an over the road trucker which means he is gone Monday thru Friday and home Saturday and Sunday. He is a veteran. He served in the army for eight years. He does so much that to provide for me and our children to make sure that we have everything we need and want. He makes so many sacrifices in order to make sure we are taken care of. He misses out on watching his children grow but always calls at night to tell them good night and that he loves and misses them. He will do anything for his family and his friends. He will drop whatever he is doing to help anywhere he can. This man deserves to be nominated for father of the year because without him our family would never survive he holds us together. He is not only a father but our hero in everything he does. So, to some he is just another person that drives a truck but to me and our children he is our provider and our hero, and we just want to give him something that shows and says that yes even tho we miss you we appreciate everything that he sacrifices for to make our lives possible and easy so that we never have to worry about a thing. We just want to show him that we love and miss him even though hell tell you he knows it already we want to be able to give him the best gift by him becoming father of the year. Even if he doesn’t win he will always be father of the year to me and our children.


Nominee: James McNiff
Cooperative: Corn Belt Energy
Nominated by: Lydia McNiff (daughter)

Taking on the role of a father is a challenging task however, taking on multiple roles of a father, a businessman, a husband, a provider, a role model and much more is something beyond words. My father successfully fills these roles and is in my opinion the best father out there. You will never meet anyone exactly like my dad, he is a selfless, caring, motivated, hardworking, and loving man. He does whatever he can to make his family’s lives the best they can possibly be.

The best quality about my father is his selflessness, he chooses to provide for others rather than himself. He could buy things he wants or give time to himself, but he constantly chooses not to. He spent months building a free pantry for those near our church who were in need. He always talks about if he had a million dollars he would give half to charity, pay off my brother and I’s student loans and with the rest he would pay off his house payments. He is by far the most selfless person I have ever met and deserves nothing but the best in life.

My father is also very inspiring and encouraging, he pushes me to be the best version of me possible and work hard to accomplish my goals. I look up to my father and everything he has accomplished in life and the way he lives his life. He works hard to achieve the things he has done such as getting a good job and supporting his family. My father definitely has rubbed off on me, he is the one who motivates me to work hard to earn good grades, try new things, and put others before myself.

My father works at State Farm as a safety specialist, he helps keep others safe from harmful situations as they live their lives or are doing something dangerous. The reason why he loves his job so much is because of the fact that he gets to keep people out of harm’s way. What he does at work rubs off on what he does outside of work. While learning to drive, my father constantly reminded me to stay safe while driving and warned me of the consequences if I didn’t. Without my father and his teachings, I would have put myself in so much danger and who knows what would have happened to me. I am forever thankful for him and what he has done to keep me as well as others safe.

If anybody deserves to win this award it is without a doubt my father. He is the man that has made me who I am today. I honestly have no idea what I would do without him in my life, he is not only my father but my best friend. I am forever grateful that I am blessed with someone like my father and hope that one day I can repay him for all he has done for me.


Nominee: Michael Milligan
Cooperative: SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Tricinda Milligan (wife)

Have you ever bumped into a stranger and instantly felt lighter? As if they knew what to say to lift your spirits at that given moment. Wherever Michael goes, he leaves an impression of a man with a heart made of gold. His heart is rich. Rich in happiness. He cares deeply about improving the lives of others and is always there to lend a helping hand. His two daughters, Kianna and Kinsley Milligan, are the apple of his eye. His love for them show through instilling the importance of prayer, gratitude, how to treat others equally, generosity, living a life full of appreciation, respecting Mother Nature, encouraging them to explore and see the beauty within Illinois’s Shawnee National Forest and to expand their imagination. Michael is a hardworking, dedicated and compassionate 2nd grade teacher. He truly loves watching his students blossom into the best versions of themselves. He never gives up and is always behind, rooting them across the finish line. Michael always goes above and beyond to spread joy, laughter and peace. When Michael isn’t teaching, he enjoys tutoring, raising money for projects to benefit his class, taking his family hiking, bird watching, visiting local historical sites, and enjoying his country home setting near the Iron Furnace.


Nominee: Rick Pierson
Cooperative: Egyptian Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Scarlett Pierson (wife)

My husband, Rick Pierson, is the best person I know. He is already father of the year in my eyes.

He has from day one wanted to be involved with our kids’ lives in a real way, not just spending time with them but influencing them in a positive way spiritually, physically, and mentally.

He’s an avid hunter and loves to work on things with his hands. He’s highly mechanically minded and can make anything work again.

Of course, he wants to share this with his kids.

Here are some highlights:

-He works with the shooting sports with 4H and now takes our son after waiting four years till he was old enough to participate.

-Both my daughter and son know how to butcher deer. This last season he had them in a factory line processing ground deer. Cutest thing ever!

-When my daughter got obsessed with horses, he started researching about owning your own horse. After months of doing this, we bought a horse. Now we own 2 and Sunday’s are Dad/daughter riding days.

-He also got involved with the horse group at 4H called The wranglers. He takes her to meetings, learns valuable horse sense, and meets other horse people. They’ve even went trail riding with their new friends.

This is just in the past few years.

I could go on.

Rick is a great Dad and husband. Undeniably deserves the title Dad of the Year!


Nominee: Douglas Rahden
Cooperative: Jo-Carroll Energy
Nominated by: Jessica Rahden (Wife)

There are a lot of traits that come to mind when I think about good fathers. Generosity, willingness to learn, and hard-working rise to the top of that list, and I see all of those things when I see my husband Doug Rahden.

When we brought our son home a year and a half ago, Doug had two semesters left to complete his master’s degree in Public Health. Even though he was still working full time, he made sure that spending time with his son was a priority. Instead of studying at a convenient time, he studied late at night, after reading stories to Alex and he was sound asleep, so that they wouldn’t miss spending precious time together.

As a family we bought a home and moved to rural Illinois last year, to put down roots in a place that we’ve always loved. Doug enthusiastically dove into homeownership and shares his projects with our son. He frequently spends Saturday mornings wandering around the hardware store as he shows our toddler the importance of picking out the right materials for home improvement, or repair projects. The two of them are inseparable, and Alex loves watching everything his dad does.

Doug has always loved western Illinois, moving here has always been his dream. He loves everything about it, the weather, the geography of the Driftless area, the history of its towns and cities, but most importantly he loves the people here.

Doug is always looking for ways to give to our new community, and so seeing a need for volunteers, Doug immediately joined with the local Fire Department.

After responding to multiple medical calls with the Fire Department, he realized how much EMT’s are needed. He’s never been one to see a need and hope someone else will take care of it, instead he jumps in, whole-heartedly giving all that he can. He’s now studying to be an EMT for our area as well. So less than a year after finishing his master’s degree he jumped back into a demanding class, complete with long hours of studying, and necessary clinical hours.

He didn’t enter into this lightly. Anyone who’s volunteered for emergency services knows that they can be an enormous time commitment, as well as challenging work. But, he also wants to show to our son how important it is to care for your community. So, despite the late nights of studying once again, and the sleeplessness that comes with parenthood, Doug somehow keeps everything rolling.

He’s done an amazing job as a father, husband, and as a citizen, finishing his master’s in public health, holding down a career, learning to be a homeowner, volunteering for our local fire department, and studying to become an EMT, all while making family time a priority.

He’s driven to take care of his family and community, a value that he’s working hard to share with his son. That’s why I think he’s the father of the year.


Nominee: Michael Russ
Cooperative: Jo-Carroll Energy
Nominated by: Lori Russ (daughter)

My Father deserves the “Father of the Year” award every day! As the oldest of my three siblings, I have witnessed our father’s never-ending love, patience, strong family values, and sacrifices he made for us. We grew up with parents who were both educators and spent their every hour devoted to educating young minds and then came home to three little ones who could very easily try their patience.

My dad always took time to play with us, whether we were coloring a special picture together, playing with matchbox cars, playing a game of catch in the yard, playing a quick game of PIG on the driveway since we were too short to reach the basket, learning how to ride a two-wheeler, mastering the game of golf, and just plain having fun together no matter what it was. Every family outing was memorable even with the scrapes and bruises because my dad was always there to pick us up, give a tight hug and make us feel like gold again.

My dad was very dedicated to his career and family from the start! He was in charge of bus supervision, Junior Class sponsor, and head of the Foreign Language department, taught summer school, and even worked a second job. He worked two jobs so that we wouldn’t have college loans and could enjoy family trips or short-day adventures, be involved in sports and clubs at school, and my mom was also able to stay home with us while we were very little.

Spending family time together was always important to our family! I remember when we were very little he had to stay at school over night because of a snow storm and that was very scary for us since he was always home in time for dinner and to tuck us in at night. When I was in high school my dad would race from school and meet the rest of our family to cheer me on at track meets and he would do the same for my brother’s golf matches and my sister’s races. As a teacher, taking off work is not very easy to do, and your days are limited, but he always made our special awards days more memorable by being there for us with a huge smile and proud hug! Now that the three “kids” are now adults, he is still looking out for our best interests and doesn’t think twice about lending a helping hand to repair things, help in our yards, shovel, check tires, or help detail the car.

Family will always be number one to my dad, but he’s always willing to help others as well. I am honored to say that I love my dad and without him, I would not be the educator I am today.  I have learned from his example and because of the values and strong work ethic he has instilled in me, I have followed in his lead.


Nominee: Eric Smith
Cooperative: Corn Belt Energy
Nominated by: GailAnn Helton (mother-in-law)

Eric D Smith and my daughter were high school sweethearts. Married @ a young age of 19. Had their first-born son, Blake Andrew, Blake was born with HLHS. His parents never left his side for one moment ever. They went thru several surgeries, many ups & downs, medications, feeding tubes. Blake went to Heaven at age 17 months. Heartbroken for sure but the two of them remained a strong team. Several years later they have been blessed with 5 more wonderful boys. These boys are all being home schooled by their Mom and their Dad! While raising the boys, this family has also built their dream farm from the ground up with their own hands. They have a beautiful home, all built with recycled and mostly family treasures. And the best part they did not go into debt to do so- Mortgage free!!! Heating their home with wood that Eric and the boys chop. The family now raises show hogs and they have instilled into the boys’ good work ethics, hard work, all by leading by example. They also raise goats and make goat milk soap. Even though always busy, Eric always has time for his boys. Helping them venture into whatever their hearts desire and usually being a team coach- baseball, wrestling, gymnastics, hockey and football. Eric is a constant great example of a leader, hard worker, loving and generous man. The family works together as a unit, in every aspect of their lives- from housework to chores to “just everything”. If my grandsons grow up to be the man their father is- I will be proud.


Nominee: Robert Staudenmaier
Cooperative: Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative
Nominated by: Amy S Phalen (fiancé)

I am nominating my incredible fiancé, Rob Staudenmaier as “Father of the Year!” Not only is he the kindest man I have ever known, he is also the most honest, generous, loyal, hardworking and loving, and I have been so blessed that God has sent him to share my life and the lives of my children! I believe Rob’s greatest strength is that he is a caring and wonderful father! Not only to his own two beautiful daughters, but also to my two adult children and grandson! I offer the following as only one example (of so many) of the kind of man and father Rob is: My daughter Katie was pregnant with our first grandchild. Last May she feel ill to severe preeclampsia and was admitted into the hospital. She had a lifesaving c-section after suffering two seizures, and her baby, Griffin, was born at only 30 weeks. Our little Griffin had to spend the first month of his life in the NICU at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. After Katie was discharged from the hospital, she was unable to drive. The thought of leaving her newborn in the hospital was bad enough, but because of her surgery she had no way of going back to be with him each day, and this broke her heart! This is where Rob generously offered to help his future step-daughter!! He woke up early every morning, drove into Auburn to pick Katie up, and then drove her to St. John’s in Springfield so that she could spend the day with her newborn son! He walked her into the hospital, carrying everything she needed for the day, spent time with his new grandson, reading him a book each morning, and then he drove back to Auburn to begin his work day! He continued this for a month, which gave them so much quality time to become closer! Rob is a devoted father and grandfather and such a blessing to our newly combined family!


Nominee: Darrell Thompson
Cooperative: Western Illinois Electrical Coop.
Nominated by: Darlene Young (daughter)

My father worked in the feed industry for his entire career. The majority of his career he was a territory sales manager that required a lot of travel. However, even though his job required him to be away from his family, he was always there for us as kids. We lived on a farm all of our childhood years and raised livestock. We were involved in both 4-H and FFA. We spent the summers traveling to all the county and state fairs. Again, he was there when we were getting livestock ready. This included all the grooming, bathing, halter breaking, etc. He attended every activity that we participated in and never missed. I was a cheerleader in high school and he attended every football and basketball game. My senior year I won both a state FFA proficiency award in poultry and the State Farmer award. He guided me and offered advice on record keeping and preparation for the interviewing.

As an adult he is still there for us. Never gets involved unless he is asked. Is willing to offer advice and guidance by only if it is requested. In November of 2012 he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had emergency triple bypass surgery. He never had heart issues, so this was a complete shock to the family. His heart was so weak that there was a good chance he would not make it thought the surgery. All of us, (me, three sisters and mom) pulled together and prayed and decided it our turn to take care of dad. Dad was never ill as I recall but was the first to take one of us for medical evaluation if we had a sniffle. It was a long recover, but he is strong and well. He is still there for us, attending our children’s events now and providing guidance and advice when we request it.

My father did not have this type of childhood and he was determined for it to be different for his kids. He absolutely has done that for us and has made each of us better adults for it. Each of us strives for the same type of environment for our kids. We now realized just how much we are like our parents.

My father is a very kind, gentle and loving man. He is always willing to help others when needed. He vowed after he recovered from his surgery that he would repay all the prayers and care that he received. He now volunteers at the hospital as a chaplain. He offers prayers and comfort for others when needed.


Nominee: Thomas L. Todd
Cooperative: McDonough Power Cooperative
Nominated by: Laci Todd (wife), Timmy and Logan (children)

Thomas is a wonderful father, husband and son. He is a friend to everyone that he meets and is always willing to step in and help where he can. He works hard to provide for his family as the Sales Manager at US Cellular in Macomb and as a Part-time Police Officer for the Blandinsville Police Department. He is also a volunteer Firefighter/EMT for the Good Hope-Sciota Volunteer Fire Department. Thomas spends his free time with his family – playing with his sons Timmy (9) and Logan (1), traveling for family vacations, watching Timmy participate in all of his sports activities and working on his Honey-Do list at home. He loves to build things and has built the kids a play set with swings and a pen and coop for the family’s ducks and chickens. Thomas is always selflessly doing for others, family and friends alike. He is our Rock and is loved and appreciated more than he will ever know. He would be very deserving and grateful of the Father of the Year award for 2018.


Nominee: Ryan Vance
Cooperative: Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Susan Vance (wife)

I would like to nominate Ryan Vance as Father of the Year. Ryan was born and raised in the Buckley area. His work took him to Columbus, Ohio which is where we met and started a family. We moved back to the area in 2013 to be closer to family and so Ryan could help with the family farm. Ryan has always had a passion for farming and livestock. Our younger children, Grace (12) and Dylan (9) are both in 4H and show pigs. Every spring Ryan and the kids would travel around to local sales and farms to buy our 4H pigs for the fair. A few years ago, he decided that it would be a great idea to purchase some sows and try breeding and raising the pigs ourselves. Since then, the kids and Ryan have been farrowing pigs. It has been such a wonderful experience for our kids to have the opportunity to take their pigs full circle. Ryan has taught them how to help with the daily chores, give shots, experiment with feed, clip tails and teeth. The values they are learning will stay with them for years to come and all thanks to Ryan being such a great hands-on -father. We love him and would be honored for him to win this award.


Nominee: Steve Varel
Cooperative: Clinton County Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Julie Endres (daughter)

What makes a great dad? Being a dad is much more than being the adult male in a household. A dad needs to have qualities such as: being strong, dependable, hard-working, loving, and compassionate. These are only a few of the qualities that describe my dad.

I am the youngest of two girls, and at times I was like the son he never had. My dad has taught me how to hunt, work on vehicles, and makes one heck of a steak on a barbeque grill. Anytime my sister or I needed someone to talk to, Dad was there. He is an amazing listener and will hear the whole story before he gives us advise. Even if he could not fix our problem, he would teach us how to make the best of the situation by remaining calm with a level head. Sometimes it meant more to us just to have him listen and let us vent about our day or week. There have been many nights sitting in the shed listening to the hayride and hanging out with my dad. My dad has always been there for me when I was stressed out in college, stuck with a difficult decision about work, and even when I just need a shoulder to cry on. I connect and communicate very well with my dad since he and I are a lot alike. To this day he calls my sister and I every day just to talk to us and see how we are doing.

My dad is one of the hardest working and generous men I know. He has worked day and night to provide for his family. Not only would he work 10-hour days at his job, he would then work late into the night to make sure our family had everything we needed and more. Another way my dad has showed his work ethic and generosity is his dedication to the Bartelso Volunteer Fire department. He has served as a fireman and first responder for over thirty years. My dad’s work ethic is one of the most valuable traits he has taught me.

I would not be the woman I am today if it would not have been for my amazing dad. The only thing better than having him as a father, is having him be a grandfather to my nephew and hopefully one day my kids. Dad, I love you more than you know, and I would like to thank you for everything you have taught me and done for me.


Nominee: Owen Lee Webb
Cooperative: SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative
Nominated by: Debra Goddard (daughter)

How do I even begin to capture the essence of Owen Lee Webb? He is known as Dad, Grandpa, and PawPa. These are all terms of endearment for this 91-year “young” father of mine. My dad has been a farmer his whole adult life, even while holding other jobs for railroad and state highway maintenance. He has lived in Southern Illinois his entire life with exception of when he was in the Navy. I grew up with three siblings on the family farm that was purposed for raising cattle, hogs and crops. My dad has such a strong work ethic and he is still sowing and reaping crops on our farm while teaching my son to follow in his footsteps. He is an excellent mechanic and recently made operational an old tractor after he was presented with buckets of parts. He has been a role model on how to maintain a balance in life considering faith, work, family and fun. How does he like to have fun? He loves to fish, watch sports (played by grandchildren as well as professional teams), and playing cards. He is notorious for pranks and jokes resulting in many laughs and wonderful stories. He is a church deacon and brings to others many pearls of wisdom about life. He grew up during the depression and he reminds us during the Christmas season of when all he received as a gift was an orange – and how happy he was to get that. He joined the Navy during WWII and served in the South Pacific on an aircraft carrier. My sister and I had the privilege of taking him to Hawaii where he had been stationed. He had not been to Pearl Harbor since the 1940’s when he was a teenager. We learned so much about him from that trip. We were on a tour of the USS Missouri and a tour guide was explaining the details of the peace treaty signed in Tokyo Bay. Dad listened carefully and after the crowd moved away he quietly said, “I was there that day, in Tokyo Bay, on an aircraft carrier”. I had never heard him speak of this before and asked him why he had never mentioned it. He replied, “Never thought it was that important.” He is such a humble and grateful man. He is a dedicated Veteran beyond his service in the Navy. He is a life member of VFW. He sponsored a monument to be built honoring the Veterans buried in the cemetery where he plans to be buried, alongside my mother who passed 9 years ago. Other areas of community service include school board member, volunteer fire fighter, and on the AFCS board. I can’t begin to describe this wonderful man on paper. I can tell you, he has portrayed the definition of the word “father”. To me, this means, being a provider, teacher, comforter, encourager, guide, and coach. I feel that he has built a legacy as a true “American Patriarch.”