A Tribute to My Dad

It is hard to believe it has been one year ago today we stood by my dad’s bedside and witnessed him peacefully breathe his last breathe. It still seems so surreal being present in a moment you never really want to experience. In the blink of an eye, you face a new reality that forever leaves a void in your life. As a Pastor, I have stood by grieving families in their time of loss. But even with the familiarity of grief, the compassion and sympathy I have given by the grace of God, nothing prepares you for the personal loss of one who has made such a monumental impact on your life.

World's Greatest Dad

World’s Greatest Dad


Through the outpouring of love and prayers for our family during my dad’s brief illness and passing, we were reminded of the impact he made on so many. My dad truly left a legacy of kindness. His infectious smile, famous bear hugs and sincere interest and concern for the individual made a lasting impression on so many. My dad never met a stranger and was drawn to those in greatest need. His unselfish lifestyle truly exemplified Jesus. He really did think of others first and on so many occasions put others needs before his own. Not that his time was mine to give, but I am glad to have shared my dad with so many others. There is a profound recognition of just how special my dad was in the unique stories of love, care and generosity he showered on people.

Through the stories of others, we have certainly gained comfort. I can even say, I have sensed a feeling of personal pride to be able to call him my dad. But the stories we have heard from others come as no surprise to our family. What my dad did for others, was our norm. My earliest childhood memories are of my dad making my brother and I feel special through his time and actions. He and my mom provided such an eclectic set of life experiences for us that have truly shaped who we are today. Our life experiences are a reflection of the journey my parents made from Rapid City, South Dakota to Southern California and now Oklahoma. A mixture of life experiences, people and cultures I don’t believe I will be able to reproduce for my own children.

Some of my greatest memories of my dad growing up was around sports. I remember him pitching the baseball to me and chasing the ball one after another. Of him always being at my soccer and baseball games growing up. I can count on one hand the number of games my dad missed my entire childhood and high school years. I never went to a game without a perfectly polished pair of cleats prepared by my dad. My dad loved to to have fun. Trips to the beach, to Lake Arrowhead, the Rose Parade, Disneyland, Dodger and Angel games, season tickets to the California Surf and LA Aztecs of the old NASL professional soccer league were all part of our childhood experiences. When it came to riding big wheels down our long steep street we lived on, my dad was right in the mix with us and all our neighborhood friends.

Racing was also a big part of our lives. In our early years, before my dad started racing off-road, we never missed the Winternationals in Pomona. Since he was a school teacher, we always knew we were going to get sick with him about the first week in February every year to go to the drag races. I don’t know what I missed in school, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t as important as those amazing memories with my dad. Once we hit the off-road scene, we had some fun times out in the desert and especially the races in Las Vegas. We spent many hours at the shop getting the cars ready, well at least somebody did. I just learned how to sweep really good and make lunch runs to In-N-Out. We also enjoyed numerous Nascar races at Ontario, Riverside and Charlotte.

My brother and I learned an amazing work ethic from my dad. He taught us how to build, roof, work on cars and fix things. He was a Wood-shop Teacher, a roofing company owner and a referee for numerous sports. The banner that hung in his shop read, “Best is Better than Good.” He was always on the go. But he never left the house without kissing us and our mom goodbye and telling us he loved us. He worked hard during the school year for us to go on vacation most of the summer. Every year growing up, we would spend just over two months in South Dakota. Us California kids were exposed to a Midwestern life filled with fishing trips, time on the farm, Mount Rushmore, Friday nights at the local dirt track and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally when it really was crazy and out of control. Enjoying all these amazing experiences with our cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

In my college years, my parents moved from California to Oklahoma. It added more memories of working together with my dad and the official launch of his bus driving career for Oklahoma Wesleyan University when I was a soccer player. One of the great joys of his life was driving the athletic teams to their games and getting to know the players and coaches. He especially loved when the teams won to ensure some victory laps around the circle drive in front of the LaQuinta Mansion upon arrival back on campus. One of the prouder moments of his driving career was bringing the 2009 Men’s Basketball Championship Team back to Bartlesville. He also loved his championship ring he wore proudly.

One of the things I miss the most about my dad being gone is our daily talks on the phone. I realize how fortunate I was to have such a special and close relationship with my dad. What is so great about this unique relationship with my dad is my brother can say the same thing. He was the source of great council, comfort, wisdom, encouragement and faith. He always believed in us, told us how proud he was of us and expressed his love for us. Even as adults, it was so reassuring to know this type of love from our father. I have said before, I have never questioned God’s love for me as my Heavenly Father because of the amazing example my dad lived out before us.

My dad truly lived a life sold out to Jesus Christ. He was a person of great faith. As I have had the opportunity to look through his Bible after his passing, it is a well marked and well worn Bible. His time with God was surely the source of the humble and servant minded person he was. There were many times my dad would share with me the opportunities he had to share Christ with people. Many of those stories included perfect strangers standing before my dad with tears running down their cheeks and accepting Christ. One of the great experiences of my life was witnessing my dad lead his dad to Christ. My grandpa was eighty years old at the time and accepted Christ less than a year before his passing.

Because of my dad’s great faith and service to Jesus, we attempt to carry on his legacy. Although our hearts are sad and we miss him every day, we remain steadfast in our faith and love for Jesus. We strongly believe in the words found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” We love you and miss you dad!