Nomination Letter List

Ernest Sjuts

Nominated by Ranae Buck his Step-daughter

Ernest Sjuts is from Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative

Let me tell you a little bit about my nominee for Illinois Country Living’s Father of the Year. He is 81 years young, a farmer, husband, dad, brother, Opa, great-Opa, cousin, friend and so much more but most importantly, he is my step-dad. Ernie Sjuts married my mom Evelyn in August, 1978 and two families became one.
Like many others, Ernie left high school before graduating so he could help on the family farm. Shortly after he left high school to help his father, he was drafted into the Korean War. He returned from the war safely but unfortunately never returned to high school to earn his high school diploma. In the spring of 2012 after 60 plus years of waiting, Ernie received his high school diploma from St. Joseph-Ogden High School alongside his granddaughter Jamie.
Ernie has overcome so much adversity in his life. In 2010, he lost his son and grandson in car accident. Later that same year he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for several months. This is just one example of the strength this man has. He worked hard to recover from his health problems and was back working in the field in the fall of 2011.
In January, 2013 we celebrated Ernie’s 80th birthday with a party of over 200 guests. Before his party, we had all of his grandkids come up with one word to describe their Opa, here is what they had to say; veteran, compassionate, loving, dandy, unique, honorable, wise, funny, cool, supportive, reliable, confident, strong, hard-working, generous, proud, loyal, inspirational, irreplaceable and amazing. I think these words tell you more than the rest of my nomination letter.
A few years ago, Ernie’s granddaughter Rylee wrote a paper about her role model. It said “My Opa is a great role model. He is a great man, a hero to me and an inspiration in life.”
Ernie has been known to come up with a funny name for all his grandkids and even some of their friends. Pretty much everyone ends up with “Lou” as their middle name, Rylee Lou, Maddie Lou, Janna Lou and Brodie Lou. He even named his dog Lucas Lou.
What does Ernie do to keep himself busy? Well, in the spring you can find him helping his youngest son Don planting corn and beans, in the fall you can find him in the semi hauling in grain to the elevator. He doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to cheering on his grandkids at their ballgames and on most Sundays, you will find him attending church services at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Flatville. One of his favorite things to do is, grill steaks and sit on the farm with Evelyn and just listen to the sounds of country living.
As I tell people every father’s day, there are some kids who don’t have a chance to have a dad in their life. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because I got two of them.

Austin Dale (Sam) Decker Jr.

Nominated by Paula Gentry his Daughter

Austin Dale (Sam) Decker Jr. is from Norris Electric Cooperative

I would like to nominate my father, Austin Dale Decker, Jr. for Illinois Country Living Father of the Year 2014. Through the years Dad has worn many hats and most of them they were silent supporters. He worked at RR Donnelley’s & Sons for 38 years. He began as an apprentice roll-tender ink-man and ended his career as a quality analyst. Through the years he worked most jobs in the company. As he worked in quality, the workers on the lines liked when Dad would come out to the lines and help them accomplish the changes needed instead of just sending the orders out.
One of the perks Dad had working at Donnelley’s was he was able to bring home the end of rolls of paper that would be thrown away. With this paper he made countless banners for Vacation Bible School at Woodbury United Methodist Church. Using stencils, markers, our ping pong table and free handed drawing, he made paper banners that would announce that year’s theme. No matter who was in charge or what the theme would be, the director could count on a unique banner each year to bring together whatever other decorations were in the sanctuary. Although Woodbury doesn’t have VBS any more, Dad is busy with various projects at the church of repairs or maintenance.
In the 1990’s the Woodbury Township board had a vacancy that Dad was appointed to. After being elected to the board for one full term, the Supervisor position needed filled. Dad filled that position for 12 years. Dad’s political career started because his neighbor, Bill Wampler, knew Dad would be a good board member and suggested he apply.
Although Dad kept very busy, he was available for his kids too. I remember him teaching me two things at once. He planned to teach me how to break an egg, but also taught me about grace when the first egg ran down the cabinets and onto the carpet. He cleaned up the mess and calmly handed me a second egg. He also taught me how to drive a car. This was a major accomplishment because I had not driven anything except a bike a little. This may have contributed to him needing a pacemaker less than 5 years later. Dad passed out at church on the morning of the day, we were going to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. The doctor told dad that his heart stopped and the doctor didn’t know what caused it to start again. A year later dad had another surgery for cancer. He has been cancer free for 20 years but is having tests now to keep closer check. In the 20 years since his family has grown by one son-in-law and 4 grandchildren.
Dad is known by many names (literally): Austin (given), Dale (known as at Donnelley’s), Sam (nickname used by family and friends) but all know if they need help he is always willing to do what he can!

Bill Wilson

Nominated by Robin Boyd his Daughter

Bill Wilson is from Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association

I would like to enter my father in the Father of the Year 2014. My father is the Best. He helps everybody he can help he works at Associated Lumber in Murphysboro, Ill. He had retired for 3 months. The company called him back and as him to come back to work at least 2-3 days out the week cause all the contractors missed him as well as the workers so my dad went back and he Loves it. He loves people and being around them you can ask anybody around all you got to do is say his name (Bill Wilson) and there reply is yall know Bill he is wonderful man and he will do are help anyone he can and I reply, yep that’s my dad. He don’t meet a strainger. He goes to church every Sunday and if something happens he don’t go the pastor will him and ask him if he’s ok cause it’s not like him to miss church are work. he helps the town and all around Murphysboro he also helps the politians in building there signs he is just a Great Man.
That’s why I want to nominate my dad for father of the year 2014.

Dale Lascelles

Nominated by Cindy Chaffin his Daughter

Dale Lascelles is from Mid Century Telephone Co-operative

4 Kids, 9 grandkids and 6 great grandkids, My dad is father of the year in many eyes. At 74 he still farms, attends local ball games, hunts and is a skilled marks man when it comes to trap shooting. Watching my dad plant and harvest throughout the years I have learned if you can dream it, set your goals, work hard and with determination you can achieve anything.
Dad has taught many generations the benefits of hard work and the value of loving what you do. Character and integrity were also important so always be honest and genuine he would say. Through my dad’s leadership he has taught two generations to farm. He was up from sun up to sun down raising hay, corn and soybeans. His strong hands have built a lot of fence and tended to numerous baby calves. A fond memory of my dad was when the community farmers planted and harvested crops for an injured neighbor. Dad took the time and helped us with our 4-H projects such as breaking calves to lead, feeding chickens, ducks and rabbits.
Hunting is a part of what defines my dad. There was always a season; deer, goose, duck, squirrel, rabbit, coyote, coon and dove. Dad always loved and had hunting dogs to take care of. If you work hard it will pay off and after a long work week dad took us hunting and fishing. It is exciting to see as he takes his grandkids and even the great grandkids to the pond or the woods. His eyes sparkle and he is so proud of them when they catch their first blue gill or kill that first deer. The time spent with him has paid off because we have some excellent marksmen and women in our family. Guess you could say dad was passionate about nature and the love of the woods.
Community and friendships have also been a priority to dad. Our small community built a local ball park which he volunteered many hours. He always took time to play sports, coach, referee and attend sporting events. Dad is always looking for the opportunity to pitch a ball or teach someone the correct way to hold a bat. He still dreams of the day the Cubs will make it to the world series and the University of Illinois will win a big 10 championship.
My dad has survived cancer and a stroke. Both illnesses have slowed him down but he is still able to put in a good days work or cheer his favorite girl’s team to a win at sectionals. I love my dad and I hope I can be as caring, kind, generous a person and example to our future generations as he has been. If you look close our eyes reflect. I hope I have given you a glimpse into why I think my dad is father, grandfather and great grandfather of the year.

Denny Pine

Nominated by Danette Young his Daughter

Denny Pine is from EnerStar Electric Cooperative

It is with great pride that I nominate my father, Denny Pine, for the Illinois Country Living Father of the Year. From a young age my father taught myself and my siblings the importance of living honestly and working hard. As a child I can remember my father working from sunup to sundown. We would wake up early on a Saturday morning to scrape off hog lots, catch baby pigs so they could be vaccinated or go walk beans before it got too hot. While at the time I was not always thrilled to participate in this family fun, I now realize dad was molding us into the successful adults that we have become. I cherish all of these memories of working with my dad, mom, brother, and sister on our farm. It was where we bonded and had meaningful conversation about our school day or future dreams. Dad always encouraged us to be active in our education and athletics. He made it possible for us to attend college and find something we enjoy doing in life. With his encouragement my brother now farms alongside my father. They run a very successful farming operation by farming over 8,000 acres with the help of my mother and one fulltime hired man. My sister is a family practice doctor and I am the principal of the school we all grew up attending. Because of the strong bonds that were formed on our family farm growing up, we have decided to raise our families close to home in Paris and Marshall.
Over the past 30 years my father has slowed down a little, actually very little. Just when you think there isn’t possibly one more thing he can do, he finds something that needs taken care of. He takes pride in putting out the best crop possible and making sure all of his machinery and farms always look in top shape. He is one of the few men in the county who have hired men driving a mowing tractor while he, the boss, is out running a weed eater in 95 degree weather. He has taught me to take pride in my work and always do what is right. As the father of three children and six grandchildren, my father is always there when needed. He enjoys spending time with family and attending sporting and school events.
Along with being an amazing father and grandfather, he is also active in a variety of groups. He is an elder at Bell Ridge Christian Church, a member of the Edgar Count Farm Bureau, a member of Illinois Corn Growers, and Illinois Soybean Association. He supports St. Jude’s Hospital and the Wounded Warrior Project with monthly donations.
My father is a role model for our family. He grew up in a farming family and never considered doing anything but farming. His success is rooted in the lessons he learned my grandfather. My father is the backbone of our family. He is very deserving of this award.

Floyd M. Otto

Nominated by Daniel Otto his Son

Floyd M. Otto is from Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative

My dad has been a central Illinois farmer for more than 50 years, and has no plans to retire any time soon. He attended Illinois State University, where he met my mother, and has been married to her for 50 years. He is the father of three, and soon he will have done that for 50 years as well. Now, he is an adored grandfather of six boys and one girl who range from twenty eight years old down to three months. He started driving tractors at six years old, then put himself through college by bailing hay for hire, and continues to this day to be the hardest working man I know. He does this while also being the happiest and most positive person I know, he never stops smiling. On a day when his new truck malfunctioned and burnt down his garage, he showed up a few hours later at my friend’s wedding wearing his usual smile. He has always taught me that we are blessed in order to be a blessing, and has been a constant example of this. While there have been many daily examples of this, the best example of his generosity came when he was a licensed pilot and owned a small six seat airplane. He used this blessing to be an on call lifeline pilot. At a moments notice he would donate his time, plane, and fuel to transport patients to the Mayo Clinic or anywhere else they asked him to go. Currently he uses his time and resources to monthly go and pick up the food items and misc. donations that fill our local food bank. As he watches and assists me in raising my three sons I hear him say weekly “if you need anything just ask” and I know that he means it. He is a man of integrity, honesty, kindness, and compassion. I am thankful daily that I get to call him Dad.

Francis C. Boeser

Nominated by Ruth Boeser his Wife

Francis C. Boeser is from Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.

No letter attached.

George Dace

Nominated by Dorothy Dace his Wife

George Dace is from Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.

I am writing about my hubby George. We have two daughters, 3 grandchildren, 1 great. We have been married 59 years. He is such a good provider, Godly man, thinks of others before himself. Dedicated father, grandfather, great. He loves doing for others. He always says just be my friend. I wish I had some of his qualities. He loves the Lord first then his family. I don’t know if anyone who doesn’t like George. I know this is not near 500 words, all I can say is he is a good man and I believe he deserves to win the Father of the Year. He would be so surprised and yes he would shed a few tears. Our family is very proud of him, our daughters adore him as do the grand kids and great grands. Me too, haha. Thank you for reading this.

Gerald Dean Smallwood

Nominated by Janet Smallwood his Daughter-in-law

Gerald Dean Smallwood is from Norris Electric Cooperative

When you take the vows to your spouse in sickness or health to death do us part, we are hoping that we will not have the trials of sickness. 6 1/2 years ago my father-in-law (Dean Smallwood) was put to the test. What does “in sickness or health mean?” My mother-in-law (Joan) had a massive stroke. She laid outside at another location for hours in extreme heat before “Dad” found her. There journey of faith and fear of the unknown began. As the doctors told Dad that they were not sure his wife would live he held her hand telling her how much he loved her and prayed that God would spare her life. A helicopter ride to Evansville and brain surgery she lived through the surgery but life as they knew it would never be the same. I watched as Dad only left her side when necessary. He would feed Mom, help with her therapy and love her with all that he had. When he found out that she would need total care he knew he had decisions to make. He was asked about a nursing home and his response was: No, she is my life mate I will take care of her! Decisions had to be made to get ready for Mom to come home. Dad spared nothing as he had a room built on to accommodate a hospital bed a bathroom with a handicapped shower and room for the hoist that would be used to transport Mom from bed to wheel chair and to shower chair. He wanted to be ready to take care of the love of his life! He made the decision to quit farming so he could be a full time caretaker for his wife. Sacrifices made, but made with a heart of love!
Life began a new normal for them. Getting up at 5:00 or before so he can be ready to help with all the daily needs Mom has. Getting Mom up, getting her dressed. Mom requires total care and Dad does not complain about how much time it takes or what the care entails. They have missed only when necessary Church on Sunday. He takes her to Doctor appointments, tests and out for socializing and dinner with family or friends. They have a caregiver that comes in a few hours a day to help with some of the daily needs of mom and the house but the rest of the care is on Dad’s shoulders. Watching the love he has for Mom and the way he cares for her I am proud to call him Dad! Thank you Dad for being my Father of the year!!

Gordon Douglas

Nominated by Kristin Wilson his Daughter

Gordon Douglas is from Corn Belt Energy Corporation

Even though he doesn’t carry a magical hammer like Thor or sport an “S” on his chest like Superman, there in rural Wapella, lives a hero of another kind. A “hero” is defined as, “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Our hero, our man of incredible character, integrity, and selflessness is our dad, Gordon Douglas. Fifty years ago, as a freshman in high school, he began his life as a farmer following in the footsteps of his dad. As small farms began to be bought by larger corporations, he persevered on. With his wife, he raised three children, a son and two daughters. Through the years he provided for them and did all he could to make their dreams come true–often times that meant putting his own dreams and desires to the side. He never missed a band concert, a sporting event, or an awards assembly. He was there every day, for anything, and still is today. The three of us have witnessed him serving his community as Township Clerk, President for Sugar Grove cemetery, and is a board member of the Farm Service Agency. In the thirty-three years that I have been a part of his life, I have only seen him cry once, and that was when he said his final goodbye to his mother at her funeral.
It wasn’t until I was an adult when I came to a revelation. I had just accepted my first teaching job and was so excited to begin following my life-long passion and dream. It was at that moment when I thought, “the passion and love that I have for teaching is the way my dad feels about farming.” For years I had watched him get up early, plan his fields out on paper, maintain the farm equipment, and a million other farm-related jobs. Not once did I ever hear him complain about what he had to do or that farming was never worth it. Furthermore, I learned what a true “husband and wife” relationship looked like through the good times and especially the bad and that no matter what people were more important than things. And when I stopped to reflect upon all I had witnessed over the years it was then that I realized I learned those qualities from him with the help of his teammate, my mom. After working fifty years, watching his three children get married and have children, he finally rewarded himself with a vintage Ford Pick-up truck. This man has been the “Father of the Year” since I can remember. It would be an amazing tribute to give the man who has given so much over his lifetime the honor of the title “2014 Father of the Year.”

Thank you for your consideration.
Kristin Wilson

Greg Sherwood

Nominated by Melaina Lane his Daughter

Greg Sherwood is from Norris Electric Cooperative

According to the dictionary, a Father is defined as “A man in relation to his natural child or children.” Throughout my 30 years of life, I would define a Father as “One who provides unconditional love in all circumstances.” Greg Sherwood took on the role as my father in 1986 when he married my mother, Linda. He quickly became a new husband and step-father to three additional girls, ages two, four, and ten.

My father has proven to be one of my biggest fans and life supporters. Growing up, he attended hundreds of ballgames, theatrical performances, banquets, parades and more to show his continued love and support. One of my favorite moments with him was our walk down the aisle on my wedding day. I couldn’t have prayed for a better man to fill the role as my step-father and to give his blessing on my marriage.

Nine years ago our family lost a terrific grandfather and an outstanding farmer in the Norris Electric Cooperative area. My grandfather, Marion Francis, spent his life in the field doing what he loved. Knowing how much my mother wanted to continue his legacy, my parents purchased the family farm and my father took on a new role as a full-time farmer. He has been successfully farming my grandfather’s land since his passing in 2005. My father continues to make daily improvements on the farm and use conservation practices, like minimum tillage and crop rotation to preserve the land. I know my grandfather would be proud of all the work he has accomplished on the farm. As a member of Farm Bureau my father supports its efforts. He also serves as President of the ADA [Agricultural Development Association] which explores ways to make improvements to the area served by the LLC [Lincoln Land Cooperative] as well as offers scholarships to college bound students majoring in agricultural. My father’s degree in horticulture is a natural tie to farming as he works with the Soil and Water District in Crawford County to make improvements to the farm. My father faithfully attends church every Sunday and lives his beliefs daily. He has a strong moral compass. In his limited free time, he loves to fish at the farm ponds or ride side-by-side with my mother across the land.

This year there will be numerous entries that deserve to win the title as “Father of the Year.” My hope is that my father can be recognized for his years of investing unconditional love, time, and financial support to his five daughters and sixteen grandchildren. He truly gives 100% effort in his role as a father and step-father.

J. Harold Beard

Nominated by Judy Horn his Daughter

J. Harold Beard is from McDonough Power Cooperative

No letter attached.

Jack Zane

Nominated by Dianne Lorento his Daughter

Jack Zane is from Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP)

I’d like to nominate my father, Jack Zane of Galena for Illinois Country Living’s Father of the Year. After a career as a hospital administrator in Chicago, Dad and Mom (Janine) moved to Galena in 1986, whereupon Dad opened the first Subway in Galena (he would eventually own five). He also co-owned Grant Hills Motel with my husband and me. But his true passion is for his work as an EMT with the Galena EMS. He’s been an EMT for at least 26 years now (he admits he’s lost track of the time!), and even though he will be 75 in August, he’s still jumping out of bed in the middle of frozen winter nights to help someone in need. He’s a crew chief as well as treasurer of the Galena Area EMS. For anyone who doesn’t know what being an EMT involves, they don’t just go on calls. He’s run out on countless meals over the years, missed many events because he’s on call and can’t leave town, he’s helped save the lives of friends and strangers, comforted those who’ve lost someone, grieved for friends who couldn’t be saved, seen the saddest and the happiest moments in peoples’ lives. In short, he’s given of himself, without reserve, to the community for more than a quarter century.

In the past, Dad was President of the Galena Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of the Jo Daviess County Ambulance Association, and held various positions on the JDCAA and Galena EMS boards. He’s also just been elected to the Congregational Council and taken on the job of Treasurer at our church, Lord of Love. He is the very incarnation of dedication…in everything he does. Service isn’t something he talks about, it’s something he lives.

But beyond the community servant, and most importantly to me, he’s the best Dad I can imagine and a wonderful grandfather to his only grandchild, Mickey. And I’m certain my mom would say he’s been an amazing husband for the past 52 years as well. Despite his busy schedule, he’s always there to lend a hand to help (most recently with installing our new kitchen range hood…I almost forgot to say, he can fix anything!), an ear to listen, or a shoulder to cry on. I can’t imagine not being able to turn to him for his wise counsel. He’s taught me so much, whether it’s how to deal with a situation in my life, how to problem solve, how to fix/build something around the house or how to be a loving and supportive parent. These are things I’ll carry with me always.

In this age of overpaid sports “heroes” and celebrities who are famous for nothing, I am endlessly grateful to have a real, live, true hero to love and to look up to: my Dad. Of course, I think he should be Father of the Century, but Father of the Year will do. Yes, it will do just fine. Thank you for considering him.

James Thomas Jennings

Nominated by Brenda Buttrum his Daughter

James Thomas Jennings is from SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc.

OUR FATHER

We know that everyone thinks that their father is the best. That is why our father, JIM, is the best DAD in the world.

When our father was very young he fell in love with this beautiful woman, BETTY, which became his wife. Then soon they decided to build a family of their own. Now there is a family of seven. Our father would make sure that we had everything that we needed plus little extras, even though we weren’t rich. He worked very hard to support us. He did what ever it was necessary to put food on our table. For a long time he hauled coal, he would unload it by himself with a shovel. We know that was hard work. He would take us with him sometimes to see the Amish with their horse and buggies. Then, another adventure he would take us on was every year to see our uncle in Indiana. There, he would take us to an indoor amusement park called “Old Chicago”. Our dad was a kid. He taught us not to be scared but to enjoy things in life, like God planned it to be. He would take us on this roller coaster, I think it was one of the first ones to go upside down, but after the ride was over, he would say come’ on let’s go again, and we would all run back around to the beginning of the line. We would ride that roller coaster several times before going on to another ride. These are just a few things that we did. Our father would always make everything very exciting for us. Our father is what you would call a family man. Everything was about his wife and children. He is the best DAD in the world. And you know what, no matter how old we get he still worries about us, and always wants to help us. He shares his wisdom daily with us, as we get older. Even today at age 84 our DAD tells us stories about our family when we were kids just like it was yesterday. He is still just as loving, caring, thoughtful and helpful as the day he became our DAD. Our dad will always be the best man in our lives. Anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a DAD. Dad is so special to us, today and always. We admire him for all the things that he has done for us, taught us and will teach us. No one could be as loved as he made his family feel. Jim is a wonderful, loving, heroic man. God did have a plan for him, to make and take care of a family that he could call his own. This is the Jennings family.

Kenneth Charles Mohr, Sr.

Nominated by Jessica (Mohr) Hulting his Daughter

Kenneth Charles Mohr, Sr. is from Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association

The 2014 Father of the Year award should be bestowed upon my father, Kenneth Charles Mohr, Sr., for he is a man of the utmost integrity. His life’s ambition is to provide for his family, to love his God and serve others. As Billy Graham puts it, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” It’s now my turn, to proudly sing my father’s praises.

Since young childhood, he worked on the family Farm. Stories of gathering eggs, milking cows, and getting up early for chores are renowned in our family. His work on the Farm and participation in the 4-H Club continued past high school. Then utilizing his knowledge of crop rotation and irrigation he volunteered for the Peace Corps to help educate farmers worldwide. Upon his return, this time with a Brazilin wife, my father continued working on the farm but also found other employment. I remember him coming home from his long-standing job as a machine mechanic at Sparta Printing, and then working on the Farm until evening. But he always managed to eat with the family. Surprisingly though, I hardly remember him complaining about his busy schedule or ever denying my request for another story. His hard work ethic is admirable and ingrained in his children.

My father’s thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. He always wants to know more about the details of life. I specifically remember him pulling out our leather bound set of encyclopedias to read. If I ever had a question on a topic like butterflies or international government he replied with a broad smile, “Well, let’s look it up!” His provision for the family consisted more than simply providing a paycheck, but rather providing the skills needed to succeed. My father only attained a High school diploma, but has produced and supported 5 college graduates during his lifetime.

My father is committed to loving and honoring God. As a lifetime member of St. Paul’s UCC, he served as a Sunday school teacher, an usher, sat on the Board of Education, and sung in the choir. His favorite hymn is the Old Rugged Cross known not only because of his say so, but also because of how he sincerely sings it. On weekends, I remember him pouring over his Bible, either preparing for a lesson or merely connecting with the Lord. His strong faith and quiet spirit has guided our family through many ups and downs, and displayed the steadfast love a husband should have for his wife and a father should have for his children. He always kissed mom before leaving for work and upon returning home. My parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding Anniversary in April, a testament to my parents’ commitment to each other and God.

As evident, my father is well deserving of the 2014 Father of the Year award, however, I am truly the winner here for he will always be my Dad.

Leonard Vasquez

Nominated by Renee Duffie his Daughter

Leonard Vasquez is from Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association

When I was born he was there. On his face, I see a smile. Time flies and I am already two. Look daddy, I can put on my shoe. Before you know it I am six, and now I am off to school. Pretty soon I turn eight and you’ll tell me I’m never allowed to date. Right around the corner I’ll be twelve, which means you’ll soon help me with my teenage years. Now fifteen with a permit to drive. Waiting to hit the big 16. Sixteen comes and I have my license now. I went by too fast, you not sure how. You meet my boyfriend and I hope you will like him. The same guy years later asks for my hand and I am glad you said Yes! You walk me down the isle and my wonderful dad gives me away. Years later you’re going to be a grandpa. I am so excited my kids are going to have a greatest grandpa. Now the cycle has begun again. It has started over with my child. The other day he turned two and said Look Mommy I can put on my shoe!.

I have the most amazing dad in the world. I sit and look back at how far I can remember, and he was always there next to me. Each and everyday he was helping me grow up, and making me the best that I can be. He has always been right by my side anytime I ever needed anything. He is a father of 8 daughters and no sons. So naturally some of his daughters had to be a son for him. I spent a lot of time with my dad growing up and still do. He went to a job everyday at Granite City Steel and then came home and worked in the evening at a side business he had, to provide for his big family. Every summer he took time out of his busy schedule to take the us all on vacation. We had a pop up camper and a station wagon that all 10 of us traveled in. Dad always made sure we all had a great vacation. He is a very hard worker and will do anything for anyone. He never told anyone no if you needed any kind of help. He is always giving, always there to help in any way. The loving things that he has done for me, I will never forget. I can’t imagine what I’d do without my dad. I will treasure his sweet heart of gold as long as I live. My dad is getting older now and grows sweeter with each year, my knight in shining armor, I’m so glad to have him here!

Ludger Schilling

Nominated by Clare Schilling his Daughter

Ludger Schilling is from Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.

I am a married 30 year old with a child of my own, but I still need my dad just as much now as I did when I was a little girl. Not because I didn’t learn how to be independent, trust me, my dad taught me that at an early age. Growing up on a hog and grain farm with my three other siblings we all learned responsibility, dedication, and independence. I still need him because after 30 years he continues to teach me, challenge me, and most of all make me laugh. When I graduated from the University of Illinois my dad trusted me to manage our sow operation. He has trusted my brother with the grain operation, and allows us to be a part of the family business he successfully built. He has worked extremely hard his whole life to give us opportunities such as this. I will be forever grateful to him for giving me my career, a career I at one point never saw myself doing, but now can’t imagine my life without.
My dad is faithful man, never missing Sunday mass, and always trying to give back as much as he can. Him and my mom saved their whole lives and lived modestly to ensure that all four of us kids were given 16 years of education. All four of us graduated from the University of Illinois, the same alma mater as our dad. His footsteps are ones we all obviously try and follow.
Although a serious business man by day he has a tremendous heart and a contagious laugh. He is the type of person people want to be around and is always telling great stories and dumb jokes. Farming is his real passion and thankfully I was blessed to inherit that gene. Besides farming he has several other passions, all of which at the age of 60 he still enjoys. He is a pilot and loves to take people up for airplane rides. He rides his motorcycle on weekends with friends and every Monday night he still hits the ice to play pickup hockey.
My dad never needed much to be happy as long as he had his family and his farm. He has taught me over the years to live a simpler life. He has taught me to think, to be rational, and to be strategic. He has shown a tremendous amount of courage throughout his life and I hope I can carry that on as well. My dad lost his father at the tender age of 35, about where I am in my life now. Because I know loss can happen unexpectedly, I know how important it is to soak up every ounce of knowledge, laughter, and piece of him I possibly can. I also wanted nothing more than for my children to know him. He is an incredible father, grandfather, friend, and steward of the land that we are so grateful to live on. I am forever indebted to God for giving me the most wonderful dad anyone could ask for.

Marshall Taggart

Nominated by Patricia Taggart his Wife

Marshall Taggart is from Norris Electric Cooperative

No letter attached.

Marvin Roat

Nominated by Sue Roat his Wife

Marvin Roat is from Menard Electric Cooperative

This eighty-three year old man has lived all of his life in the country within a mile of where he was born, except the nearly two years he served his country as a tank driver during the Korean Conflict. His whole life has revolved around his church, family, and farming the ground he loved.
He met his wife and they began their life together in a home built by his uncle when he first married. It’s a Centennial Farm they both cherish. They began their family with premature twins, a boy and a girl. Fortunately it was in early February so he could provide needed help day and night with their care for the first several weeks before field work called to him. Three years later another son was born and then in two years, another son arrived. Although he seldom voiced “I love you”, he proved it by his actions.
Marvin was a hard worker and our children learned a wonde3rful work ethic which they practice. He was honest in every way and that modeling shows up in our children’s lives. He was talented, inventive and always thinking of how he could do things better. When a machine needed repair, he did it. I remember seeing him in the shop with parts organized all around as he overhauled his beloved John Deere 8430. He was the first of his family of 10 siblings, three who were farmers like him, to buy a pickup truck when they became more popular. Can you imagine people weren’t sure they would be useful? He was one of the first in Mason County to irrigate crops.
Life wasn’t all hard work. Almost every time the church doors were open, he was there with his family..and he made it fun. We all remember the root beer floats after services on Wednesday nights! We visited often at both Grandma’s homes and enjoyed all the extended family that gathered there. Marvin never had the opportunity of eating out much at restaurants so he wanted to make sure our children felt comfortable in that setting. Friday nights were our night out. Vacation and travel was a yearly exciting time. We visited many states wit the help of AAA trip planning that gave us information on historic sites and fun places to visit. It was a great time for family togetherness and seeing different parts of America.
Our oldest son farmed until he was elected Circuit Clerk. Our daughter is a wonderful pastor’s wife and RN. Our middle son is a Mechanical Engineer for Caterpillar. Our youngest son is a Radiologist. They are often and regularly in touch with us and show their love in so many ways. They have given us seven grandchildren and two greats.
The past several years, Marvin has battled cancer and Alzheimer’s has taken our well-known Dad and left another in his place. He is still sweet and lovable. No matter what, he’s the best.

Perry Dailey

Nominated by Joe Dailey his Son

Perry Dailey is from Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative

On a rare occasion one is fortunate enough to come across an extraordinary person in their life that is a role model, mentor, and friend. I have been lucky enough in my life to call this person Dad. Father of the year is a tile that my father should receive, as he has been the father of the year for the last 33 years for my family.

My father, Perry Dailey, selflessly places his family and others before himself on a day-to-day basis. Whether it is getting up in the middle of the night to help restore electricity to a complete stranger’s home or going to feed my dogs when I have to work late. He is always there with a smile and helping hand. He displays trustworthiness and honesty in his every action.

My father exemplifies the title father of the year each and every day of his life. He has helped me grow into a strong independent man that has love for his family and community. He also instilled a solid set of core values in my sisters and I that has allowed us to be successful in our many endeavors. My father’s motto in life is that “life is too short” and this is one of the best pieces of advice he instilled in me. He told me this repeatedly as I was growing up but it took me many years to finally stop, listen and understand the lesson he was trying to teach me. “Life is too short” is a way of life for my father and I. It allows us to let go of negative factors in our life and shift the focus to the positive.

The “life is too short” attitude and mantra is one of the single most important reasons my father should be father of the year. In a world of constant bad news from media outlets everyone needs a little of my fathers attitude about life. This would allow them to be able to shrug their shoulders, brush off the dust, and say to themselves “life is too short” to worry about all this and focus on what they can change to make their lives better.

Furthermore, my father has taught me how to love and show compassion for others. My father’s love for his family and his surrounding community cannot be missed. He takes pride in knowing he has been a contributing member of the community and raised three great kids. On top of all this he has maintained a loving and caring relationship with my mother for over 35 years. My father’s love for his family, contributions to his community, and his “life is too short” attitude are just a few of the attributes that make him worthy of being called father of the year.

Phillip Landes

Nominated by Christian Landes his Son

Phillip Landes is from EnerStar Electric Cooperative

Phillip Landes:
Quiet Example
By Christian Landes

It took a bit longer than average for me to grow up: to “figure it out.” But I was lucky. My parents hung in there, didn’t give up, and I’m no longer in doubt whether I’ll make it. Dad is a heavy half of that. Most things he did for us were subtle, unnoticeable; but I’ve realized that the quiet-example stuff has scored immeasurable rewards. I’ll share some of these with you now:

If you don’t know what your doing, don’t disassemble your vehicle.
As the oldest, I’ve followed Dad around the farm since toddlerhood. Most of the mechanical stuff happened beyond my view, as I impatiently held the light and passed wrenches, daydreaming about throwing hay bales, or girls, depending on my age. I learned tools, and light-holding, but missed much in the name of farm efficiency (make hay while the sun shines). Dad has learned that the sight of my hood up gives him good cause to patiently inquire my intentions and gently halve the work necessary to fix my problem. I’ve learned to seek help or pay a pro for any more than basic auto repairs.

If you see dirt, get rid of it.
When we were young Dad was always busy. If he wasn’t watching for the schoolbus, or saying, “Goodnight,” during Carson, he was cleaning something. Trash, dishes: I used to watch him thumb breadcrumbs off the table between bites at lunch. Crazy!
None of this figured until lately. With my working wife and two kids, I’m impressed We were slobs. Mom would have been swamped, and we took it for granted. With age comes appreciation.

If you don’t like someone’s appearance or behavior (and its not hurting anyone), ignore it.
At the table, if anyone cracks a joke about his shirt, his eating habits, or anything, Dad’s response, to our delight, is always a big smile, a finger in some direction, and, “If you don’t like it, look over there.” The autumn I was seventeen I got my ear pierced. Mom freaked, but when I saw Dad he played dumb. He had to know, but that defiant gold stud only lasted a month.
Now an adult with a family, I still use him as a sounding board for any complaints I have about this society around us. Usually, he calms my nerves with a familiar laid back perspective. That’s the way he taught us how to think.
Tolerance, peace, love, hard work; I think that’s what he’s always projected. This is simply his normal behavior He doesn’t plan it or think it out that way. He doesn’t force it on anyone. Its not for show. That’s just the way he is. And its rubbed off on us.
Now, once in a while, I see a look in his eyes: as if he’s mildly surprised to see that his quiet example has had an effect on all of us. It’s nice.
-Christian Landes
March 6, 2014

Randy Abell

Nominated by Kenny Abell his Son

Randy Abell is from Norris Electric Cooperative

My father is Randy Abell. He resides in the southern part of the State in Illinois. My father is no everyday father. He stands out as extraordinary to me and to others who know him. Growing up my father worked very hard at a thankless job; which did not pay very much. He often volunteered for overtime and did side work for us to have food, clothes, and a few extras. Most people would have called us poor, but they would have been mistaken. We were the richest family because your wealth is not measured by monetary items my father always said. Things my father taught me that made us rich include: values, a good work ethic, how to treat women and children, honesty, dependability, and how to treat your neighbors. My dad was quick to lend a helping hand to our neighbors, friends, strangers, and family. I watched my dad do without so others could have substance in their lives. He often fixed up used computers and gave them to kids in the community who needed them.
My dad taught me how to hunt deer, rabbit, bird, and mushrooms. He had a list of people who he would share his mushrooms with every year. Mushrooms are a delicacy in Southern Illinois. He often had the opportunity to sell them but refused. He taught me how to be a steward of the land. He taught me that anything can be fixed, that it’s better to give than to get. My dad coached baseball in our small rural southern area. He taught kids more than just baseball, how to have fun, how to treat others, and how to give back.
The dictionary defines a father as a man who brings up and looks after a child as if he were its father. That’s what my father did for me when he adopted me at the age of 5 years old. I love you Dad and thanks for everything.
Now 32 years later and I am a father and was prepared for that reward due to what my father taught me. The life lessons, the values, stories, were all my inheritance my father passed to me and I am passing them to my son. It’s the gift that a father gives. My father is now a grandfather and is a significant part of my son’s life as well. Because of this, my father should be selected for “father of the year, 2014”.

Richard G. Williams

Nominated by Kay Williams his Wife

Richard G. Williams is from EnerStar Electric Cooperative

I think my husband, Richard Williams, should be selected 2014 Father of the Year. Richard Williams grew up on the family farm south of Marshall, Illinois in the area named Choctaw. As a boy, he helped his father on the farm, including milking cows morning and evening. After graduation, Richard joined the Marine Corps, and proudly served his country from 1961 to 1964. We now live on my family farm, which will soon be a centennial farm. Our farm is located near Mill Creek Lake, served by EnerStar Electric Cooperative.
Richard supported our family of two girls and two boys by attending school and church activities; sometimes giving up sleep from his shift-work job to be there.
Richard and I have been married 53 years and have had many happy times and some sad ones also. He held our family together through the losses of a grandson, daughter and a son.
Richard supports and attends church at Dana, Indiana and 5 Point Christian Church in Marshall, Illinois. He and a crew of “old men” build an addition for a fellowship hall a few years ago.
Richard is on the Dolson Township board, Clark County. He is a member of several veteran organizations, including DAV, Clark County Post #90 American Legion, Amvets Post #90, and 40 & 8 veteran’s organization. He held offices in all these groups, but he is most proud of his work in the 40 & 8 Nurses Training scholarship program.
Richard enjoys his time with the family of 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Nearly any day, you can find Papaw doing something for them and making memories for the future.

Richard Simmons

Nominated by Debbie Stilley his Daughter

Richard Simmons is from Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative

This man is not the famous Richard Simmons like some might think. But a Country Living Richard Simmons from Southern Illinois. And the main reason why I’m nominating him as father of the year is because I am glad this Country Living Richard Simmons is my Dad!
A good father makes sure his family is well taken care of before reaching out to others in need. I think this can well be said of my Dad as I consider the love and willingness to help me out not only through my growing up years but during my married life as well.
From him I learned many things even how to make a good tasting chili using tomato juice and a potato salad that has gotten lots of compliments. I even used his potato salad recipe at Marion Kentucky Fried Chicken during the early 80s. And many customers began requesting it over the KFC recipe. Which went over well until my boss found out I was using my Dad’s recipe instead of following KFC’s.
He’s been a painter by trade and that’s what he has done for years, painting sheet rock and houses. He also paints pictures on canvas and on various other items for himself and mainly for others even at their request. For instance our son his grandson asked if Pa Pa Richard would paint a picture on a saw blade for him. Pa Pa Richard said, “Sure” and painted a watermill scene on a wooden shaped saw blade for this grandson. However the grandson had in mind a painting on a real saw blade not a wooden one. So my dad painted a beautiful soaring eagle on a real saw blade for this grandson, which has become a real treasure.
My dad also enjoys playing the guitar and singing what’s called Southern Gospel (country) music for his own Church as well as for other Churches in surrounding communities.
He has several grand children and great children who are fond of him indeed.
This past year 2013 was a rough year on his health as he underwent lung surgery and some chemo therapy. Which I think has caused this country living Richard Simmons to have a new outlook on living. Still to this day if dad sees I’m getting out of line or losing focus he is ready to sternly guide and correct me. Making me realize how some matters aren’t so important in this life as for life itself and living. Being more thankful for being alive and caring more for those who are. No doubt this country living Richard Simmons loves this country as well as country living. I’m glad he’s my Dad! And may God continue to bless this country living Richard Simmons and the America we love.

Roy Klingelhoefer

Nominated by Gail Frey his Daughter

Roy Klingelhoefer is from Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.

Born on a farm, east of Mascoutah, Illinois, my father, Roy Klingelhoefer, is a man of inspiration to me, our family, our church, and our community.
For me and my family, he has been a devote Christian and has modeled his faith through honesty and hard work. As a farmer, he often explained to me that he never felt closer to God then driving a planter or plow across the field and thinking that the success of his crop was totally in the Lord’s hands.
Through his church, while serving various positions, he took great pride in his ability to sing praise to God. Retiring from the church choir at age 80, he gave of his musical talent for over 60 years in the choir. Serving his church through choir and many boards, he has become a model to his family through his example.
Service plays a very vital role in his life. Knowing the importance of quality education, he served 27 years on the county school board. This position could often be difficult and thankless; however, he continued his dedication and service.
My father understands what if means to “pay it forward”. It is difficult to describe the number of times he has paid it forward to someone who has shown compassion to him or cared for him. As a mere example, an EMT from our city helped to resuscitate my mother from heart failure. At every opportunity, my father would discreetly pay for dinner for the EMT’s family at various restaurants.
Today, my father is a retired farmer and his mobility has become more difficult. Despite this, you will find him organizing activities at the local senior center, helping to deliver “meals on wheels” for the shut-ins, and visiting countless individuals in the community who might be hospitalized or in the nursing home. He is always a handshake away from his old friends as well as a new friend.
A true sports fan, my father played baseball as a child. Sadly, after a slide into home plate, he broke his left leg. Unfortunately, my father’s leg was not set properly. As a result, he has limped most of his life. Nevertheless, he never complains of pain or has pity on himself. He channels his love for sports into watching countless basketball and baseball games of his grandchildren to support them. He dreams of watching his three great-grandsons play basketball someday.
My greatest admiration of him encompasses his ability to live his life in service. He serves God, and he serves those around him. Daily, he seeks simply things in nature that bring him joy. It might be a bird, a beautiful sunset, a falling star, or an unusual thundercloud. He savors the now and constantly acknowledges that his family and friends are God’s greatest gifts to him.
It is with great honor and feeling of true blessing to nominate my father as “Illinois Country Father of the Year” as a man who is most deserving of this honor.

Ryan Colwell

Nominated by Kyle, Trevor & Caden Colwell his Sons

Ryan Colwell is from Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative

Ryan Colwell is a terrific husband and father. His three sons, Kyle, Trevor & Caden, would like to nominate him for Illinois Country Living’s Father of the Year award.

My dad should be named “Father of the Year” because he is very supportive and hard working. He took us to Durham, NC for a Duke game. He teaches us about house building because he is building us a new house right now. He has actually built two houses for our family but he is not a house builder by profession. He is a nurse manager at Prairie Cardiovascular. He is very smart.
He always makes me laugh with his crazy jokes. He was my Cub Scout leader and supports me at my basketball and baseball games. He gives my tips on how to play better. He rocks!
~ Kyle (12 years old)

My dad deserves to be Father of the Year because he is loving, caring, & funny. He tells the best jokes! He tells me facts about things that happened millions of years ago. He is very smart. At the end of each school year, he takes my brothers and me on a camping trip. He shows me how to pitch a tent, make our own food over the fire and he tells the best campfire jokes. He taught me how to put an outlet in our new house. He knows a lot about electricity and has an awesome mind He plays basketball and baseball with me and teaches me how to play.
~Trevor (8 years old)
My dad is really great because he rents movies for us on the weekends. He takes us to Cardinals baseball games even though he is a Cubs fan. He plays games with me like poker, charades, and kickball. He takes me fishing and puts the worm on the hook for me. My dad works really hard so our family can have money. He is great at snuggling. He is building us a new house and he lets me help. He also built us a huge tree fort in the yard. I love him so much!
~Caden (6 years old)

Steve Mathews

Nominated by Kara Mathews his Youngest Daughter

Steve Mathews is from SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc.

There are many reasons I feel as though my father should be nominate father of the year. First of all, my father has raised up four daughters that in itself is a challenge. But, my father was so supportive and encouraged us in all we did he made each of us feel so special. My dad never got to raise a boy, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying things that all “Country Boys” like to do he just got to bring us girls along. My sisters and I enjoy hunting, fishing, four wheeler and horse back riding all because my father was so eager to have us right there with him. Dad taught us so many things that we needed in life that no text book could ever teach! He has taught us girls love and forgiveness for others. How to lend a helping hand even if it doesn’t benefit you and it’s the little things in life that mean the most. My dad at any given time can be called by anyone in our little part of the country. Needing him to fix anything and he will stop what he is doing to fix it. On his few days off or maybe not even a day off, you could spot him trimming hedges at his mother’s house and the rest of her list. At my home fixing a leaky faucet to my tub, lighting my pilot light to my furnace or down at my sister’s in below freezing weather fixing her water pipes and working on the electric because my sister thought everyones power was out and really it was just hers. My Father is a great man! His little girls have now turned into lovely young ladies with homes of our own. That doesn’t stop us from calling our Daddy to come help us fix things. I love to hear the song “Daddy’s Hands” for one my father used to sing that song all the time when we were little. And that song truly is my father, he would correct us when we did wrong but you knew that he no matter what you had done, he was right there to love you even more. I don’t know what I would do without my father, I know for one I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for him. He is an amazing man and I feel as though he should be Father of the Year! This year in 2014 I was able to bless my Father with his ninth grandchild. Even though this was number nine I still watched my Father walk in the room after she was born and wipe tears from his eyes. That makes a man right there to be proud of his children and his grandchildren. I wanted to take this time to let everyone else know, just how much my Father means to me and how special he is to me and my sisters. I’m truly blessed to have been given such a great man to call Dad!

Terry Winter

Nominated by Anna Winter his Daughter

Terry Winter is from Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP)

Every little girl looks up to her daddy as the best man in her little world. But how often does that image of having the best dad in the world carry with that girl throughout her entire life? I will tell you that in my case, it has.
Throughout my entire life, I have always looked up to my dad as an incredible role model. Now that I am older, my recognition and appreciation for everything my dad has done over the years has grown incredibly. He is the man that provided our family with a roof over our heads and food on the table. He is the man that worked full-time and ran our family farm but still made time to attend all of my school and sporting events. He is the man that taught me if you want something, you need to earn it. He is the man that made me laugh until my sides hurt and showed me laughter is the best medicine. He is the man that could fix anything from a flat tire to a broken heart. He is the man that showed his love and support through his actions rather than his words. He is the man that showed me helping others is important, even if there’s nothing in it for you. He is the man that proved to me that unconditional love really does exist. He is the man that taught me to value what I have and to never take anything for granted. Most of my life lessons were learned through experiences I had with my dad. These are irreplaceable lessons that have carefully molded me into the woman I am today.
My dad is a lot of things – a friend, a farmer, a neighbor, a fan. But in my eyes, he’s only one thing – a hero.

Tim Hackett

Nominated by Katie LaRosae his Daughter

Tim Hackett is from Spoon River Electric Cooperative

Father of the Year
I have the most generous and giving person in my life. I was given this person when I was thirteen years old. He did not have to become the man he did because he had too, but because he wanted too. This man is whom I call Dad. I was given the gift of having a person in my life that will be there for me and my family no matter what the circumstances.
Tim Hackett was there for me when I graduated grade school, taught me how to drive (I gave him the ride of his life around that first corner!), and watched me graduate high school. He was there for me when I bought my first car, and had my first child as a single parent. He accepted my child as his own grandchild. Growing from a teenager into a woman I needed a man in my life to show me how a man was supposed to be there for his family and keep them safe and provided for. This is an important job and role that was given to me by God to teach me what a real man was to do for a family.
To this day I have been his daughter and my children his granddaughters. He would do anything for us and I am grateful to have that love and support. I want to acknowledge him for all that he has given me so far in my life. I have grown to become a better person due to his love for me and my family. There are men that can make children and then there are men that can raise them to be the people that make them who they are as an adult.
This is why I think that the Father of the Year should go to the one and only person that has given me the life I would not have otherwise had growing up. Tim is the person I can count on and whom I call Dad and my children call Grandpa. He is the best Father of the Year now and for many years to come. I will always look up to him and I want to thank him for his patience, guidance, and love throughout my life. I love him for the Dad and Grandpa he is to me and my children.

Tom Leibold

Nominated by Denise Ronek his daughter

Tom Leibold is from Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP)

My Dad, Tom Leibold deserves to be the Illinois Country Living Father of the Year because……

My Dad is now in his 80’s and still ready to listen and stand by my side during difficulties.

When I was small Dad would be the “monster” and whatever large box or playhouse we had on hand was our fort. Dad would chase us into the fort among shrieks and laughter. As we outgrew the “monster” stage Dad joined in on family baseball games and croquet in the front yard.

I loved going to Dad’s business conventions to meet up with old friends. Dad made the time despite being busy with work and got “The Trader” an old bus remodeled into a camper, which began summers of wonderful trips to camping areas which offered pools, creeks and off road motorcycle areas. Of course we always hauled our dirt bike along if there was an area to ride and fought over who got to ride first. Thought of roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around the campfire with friends still brings a smile.

Dad loved to fly, and flew for pleasure and work. Although I tended to get airsick Dad never seemed to get upset over it. Dad would let us “pretend” to fly the plane from the co-pilots seat. Of course he was always there in the pilots seat to take over if we made any mistakes. Dad had LOTS of patience as he flew while I tried to take pictures of farms and properties he had for sale with an old box camera. The problem with those box cameras was that looking inside everything moved the opposite direction of the scenery outside the camera viewfinder, which made for a rough trip for someone who gets airsick!! It was a good thing there is vent windows in those small planes. After us kids moved away Mom and Dad would fly to places. Mom has some flying stories, but those are her stories to tell. Dad flew his grandkids and me from Iowa to Montana one summer and flew to Alaska to visit my sister.

Then there was the snowmobile. Since Mom didn’t care to ride, Dad and I usually rode tandem. The greatest was the group trips when enough snow fell you could ride the roads FOREVER!!

My Dad taught us work ethics and to put in a good days work. My kids have since thanked me for teaching them the same work ethics. His motto always was that his girls could do anything a guy could do, maybe better. This wasn’t the common way of thinking back then. His granddaughter’s grew up with this thinking too.

Dad and I struggled with my teenage and young adult years. Where was that closeness we always had? Dad hung in there and was always there when I needed him…..and still is. We found that closeness again and I hope to always be there for him.

My Dad gave me a childhood people dream of J.

Tony Ales Sr.

Nominated by Dorothy Hess his daughter (youngest)

Tony Ales Sr. is from Corn Belt Energy Corporation

My wonderful dad
I would like to start this essay to tell you how smart my dad is he is the philosopher of our family he almost knows something about any subject you could bring up to talk about! He usually has the best advice. You see growing up we didn’t have a lot but we had everything we needed and some of what we wanted that was thanks to my dad. My dad is a truck driver and has been for thirty years he was a mechanic and wasn’t making enough to support our little family so he sacrificed being home so he could pay the bills and take care of his family. My dad became dad to two other children that by blood weren’t his he raised us kids to know there is no step or half in our family that we are all just brothers and sisters and that he was dad to all of us. He loved my mother unconditionally till her somewhat recent early death in two thousand ten. He gave her everything he could. He showed me that a man should treat me with love and respect and they should never lay a hand on me. He showed me what real love is about by the way he treated my mother. My dad is saddened by all the moments he missed with us kids due to his job. I am very proud of my dad he has really taken care of all of us kids since mom passed and also his grandkids. He still drives truck and manages to make time for his four kids and eight grandkids. He loves us kids and pines for us still to this day. He will not see any of kids do without if he can get it he will give it to us. He helped me through the birth of my son saved me from a cesarean section birth. He was to start his new job that day and didn’t get to see his grandson till he was almost 6 days old. From the moment they met they have been two peas in a pod. He used to take us kids with him in the truck for a week at a time in the summer boy I miss those days most of my growing pain talks were in an eight teen wheeler rolling down some highway. My dad has always tried to be there for all of his kids and his siblings he has a big heart and would give the shirt off his back to anyone who might need it. He does not judge people till he knows them. He has always accepted us kids and his grandkids for who they are and loves them to the end of this world and back. My dad is a genuinely great guy smart, loving, caring, and helpful. He is supporting of where ever we decide to go in life and I may be prejudice but I think my father is the best dad in this world!

Verlan Heberer

Nominated by Amy Bouvet, Jill Connors, Jann Komotos his Daughters

Verlan Heberer is from Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.

Verlan Heberer, our father, has spent his 81 years as a farmer, an avid collector of anything old from Ford cars, trucks, John Deere tractors and memorabilia, just to name a few of his collections. In addition, he also became both a mother and a father to us when we were only age 10, 7 and 3 due to my mother’s death in an accident on the farm.
He served as a 4-H leader; an active member of Turkey Hill Grange and St. Paul’s UCC in addition to helping with all school activities including serving on the Freeburg School Board. As both a mother and a father to three daughters, dad had to be a listening ear to the type of issues that a dad usually let’s a mom handle. He gave advice, discipline and love to no end. He has supported us and our extended family in all our endeavors during good times and bad times. His Christianity, hard work ethic, honesty, fairness and dedication never wavered. He was “the same man on Saturday night as he was on Sunday morning.”
As a farmer, he shared his values of soil conservation, care of animals, fairness to all employees and business associates and hard work ethic. Verlan has a sense of generosity and caring that is appreciated by local farmers, John Deere enthusiasts, neighbors, friends and family. He was also active (never just a member) with the IL Pork Producers, Chamber of Commerce, Soil Conservation Service, U of I Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H Foundation and other community events that required use of his tractors, antique cars, farm land, etc.
He is always helping someone with a restoration project, finding space for them to store items in one of his barns, supplying apples, fruit and vegetables from his garden to everyone. He has always been a mentor to others in the community by sharing his antique knowledge and restoration ability with all who are interested. Lately Verlan has been sorting through his many items of history and enjoys bringing a smile to others as he thoughtfully presents them with an item or newspaper article from their past. Many times, he has purchased an antique car, tractor or other memorabilia, he meticulously restores the item and then takes it back to the previous owner for them to appreciate.
Verlan Heberer would be proud of the Father of the Year award and he will always be Father of the Year to his daughters and to many of whom lives he has touched!

Wayman Meredith

Nominated by Riley Meredith his Daughter

Wayman Meredith is from Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative Co.

My daddy is the Chief of Police in Palmyra, Il. He helps families at Christmas with presents for their children. Last year he paid three family’s water bills, after their water was turned off.

William Singer

Nominated by Angel Wilkin his Daughter

William Singer is from Menard Electric Cooperative

Father of the Year

By: Angel M. Wilkin

His name says it all William Singer! He is such a strong man who worked very hard to raise four girls on his own for a while. His life is not easy as he has struggled and he has had to let go of things many would not think of. He is strong willed with a heart of gold! My dad is my hero, my rock, he is a son, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He is the protector of our family as where he lives and always will be.
William is one of a kind and I say that with a smile. My dad had to work a lot to provide for us four girls until he found the love of his life. He makes sure we are all taken care of and are his first priority. William is funny, energetic, and so down to earth that nobody really knows exactly how he is feeling. He never puts anything before family.

My dad has driven miles to make sure we were around the family while he was in the United States Air Force. He has driven miles to make sure he was by his children’s side through everything. William is not one to take no for an answer when it comes to his children. He will fight with all he has and that is what makes him so great.

William will never turn his back to anyone. He is always playing with us girls and making jokes. He is someone we can turn to no matter what the problem is and he always has an answer even if we do not like it. My dad is everything to us girls as he is the one who let us know what life was all about and how to handle not letting anyone knock us down. He has been through a lot with four girls especially when we were teens however, I know I would not change him for the world.

My dad reminds me of a panther because he is so strong willed. He is so happy that even when times are the worst they cannot break him. He works for the State now and makes sure that his job is done. He has driven through all kinds of weather just to make sure others were safe. No matter what it is like inside or out my dad is always up doing something because everything needs its work whether it is small or big.

William is the best person someone could meet because he is honest. He does not believe in lying or trying to sneak around. I remember as a kid we were always told “tell the truth no matter the situation as the consequences are not as bad when you lie” (William Singer). He has worked so hard to get to where he is today and has seen that his work paid off with all of us girls making it where he had wanted. We are living our dreams and that is all he ever wished for.

Wilmer Averkamp

Nominated by Marla Quinn his Daughter

Wilmer Averkamp is from Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP)

My dad is 85 years young. His name is Wilmer Averkamp, but he has many other names. He is “Dad” to nine children; five sons and four daughters. He is “Grandpa” to 27 grandchildren and “Great Grandpa” to 22 great grandchildren. He is also a brother, brother in law, uncle, cousin, etc. Most importantly though, and the reason he is one of the greatest fathers, he is a devoted and loving husband to Lillian, who he will be celebrating 65 years of marriage this June.

Wilmer served in the Army for 1 1/2 years, stationed in Japan after World War II, 28 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Menominee Dunleith Fire Department, and a 60+ years as a member of the Nativity BVM Holy Name Society. In his younger years, he loved to snowmobile, golf, work on his farm, he loves to watch his kids play sports. In his golden years, he loves to watch his grandkids play sports, mow the grass and tinker on his farm, and walk on mornings when the weather is nice.

As a young family man, dad worked two jobs and farmed….retiring later from FDL which was the former Dubuque Packing Company after 28 years. While raising nine kids, and working one to two jobs during his working career, he still had time and energy to play with and nurture his kids and instill a strong worth ethic into each and every one of us.

Dad is a forever friend and neighbor who visits others who are in the hospital or at home. He enjoys brightening their day and they appreciate his visits.

And just so he doesn’t get bored, he still works part-time driving cars for a local dealership. But he is never too busy when one of his children need time from him. Whether it is helping them with a project or going to a grandchild’s school event, you know that Dad will be there. For many years, he helped his wife take care of his grandchildren for one of his daughters. The bond he formed with them is unbreakable. He still gets together with them for dinner.

Unfortunately, Dad has had the bad luck of being a Cubs fan all his life. Although they have let him down every one of his 85 years, he still follows them loyally. His favorite players were Hank Sauer and Ryne Sandberg. Along with the Cubs, Dad is a diehard Bears fan and got to see his hero, Walter Payton, speak in Dubuque in the 1980s. He rarely misses a game whether watching it at his house, with his wife curled up on the couch reading, or at one of this son’s or daughter’s houses.

In my eyes, my Dad is not only father of the year, but he is father of a lifetime. Five hundred words is just the tip of the iceberg for describing this remarkable man.

Comments are closed.