Local News

If your dad was still around, what would you tell him?

Renee Wells, Judy Ann McCarter, Dalne Kennedy and Flo Cooper didn’t share the same father, but their dads shared the same quality.

Clinton “Red” Wells, a World War II veteran, barber and school bus driver for 40 years moved from New York to Sebring in 1984, where Renee’s mother still lives. But before Renee moved to Sebring, she started a new job as a flight attendant for Mohawk Airlines and had to drive to Washington for training.

“He drove me down there to get situated, so that I wouldn’t have to do that by myself,” Wells said. “He did it just to be there for me.”

James Patrick McCarter’s wife died in 1970 and his son was already in the Army, so for six years, he took care of his two girls while working full time. “I know he sacrificed a lot after he became a single parent. He didn’t go out at all.”

He worked as a janitor for the Tatum, N.M., School District until 1972, which is where McCarter attended school. “I was happy, because I got to see him at school.”

James R. Kennedy was a civil engineer in Sarasota. “He was always there for PTA, for any sport we played. He coached Little League; he was there for every school function; he was always there to support us, even though he had his own full-time business. I don’t think he thought about it because I never heard him complain.”

Thomas Harold Hackney lived in Clearwater and owned Sunset Heating and Air Conditioning in Clearwater, Port Richie and Tampa.

“If I had one time to talk with Dad, face-to-face again, I would let him know how grateful I truly am for the sacrifices they made for my dancing ballet company time,” said Flo Cooper. Back in 1950s, when $2,000 was a lot more money than it is today, her father paid over $2,000 a month from her third grade to the fifth grade for private, six-days-a-week, dance tutoring.

Red Wells spent his last days in hospice. “I was so blessed I could be there, because my dad, he took care of me, did things for me most of my life, so I was glad I could be here for him and Mom. I took care of the financial things, helped him get dressed and cleaned, just things that needed to be done when home health care wasn’t there, before he got totally sick and had to go into hospice. He had all his facilities, but he was in a lot of pain, and he couldn’t do things for himself. I have no regrets. He was a good dad.

“It’s been over three years since you passed,” Renee Wells wrote to Red Wells last week. “He had cancer, and moved from Florida Hospital to Good Shepherd Hospice. I miss talking to you about everyday events. I am so blessed to have been able to be with you and be your caregiver. I love and miss you, Poppy. Happy Father’s Day.”

When Judy Ann was 4, James McCarter traded his S&H Green Stamps for a teddy bear. “Dad asked me, and I pointed to biggest one. It was bigger than I was, but he got it for me.”

A former Air Force MP, McCarter moved back to Roswell and went back to work for the New Mexico Security Patrol. He died 38 years ago, when Judy Ann was 11, but she still talks to him. “I miss my dad very much. I ask him, ‘Why didn’t you take care of your diabetes, so you could see me grow up?’”

“When I cleaned out the refrigerator, after he died, there were six bottles of insulin, so my dad didn’t take it like he should have,” McCarter said. “I tell him how much I love him and miss him. It hurts when you lose both parents in your childhood years.”

“He always put our family first,” said Dalne Kennedy, who is now the cafeteria manager at Avon Park High School. “In business, he put other people first.”

If she could speak to him just one more time, she would just say thank you. “I never realized, until after he was gone, that he always thought of everyone else first before he took care of himself,” Kennedy said. “He always did the best for our family and I never wanted to let him down.”

A lot of James Kennedy rubbed off on her. Whenever Jefferson Starship’s “We Built This City” comes on the radio, she thinks of Dad. When the Cubs play on TV, she watches.

“Because he was a big Cubs fan, and so am I,” Kennedy said.

“Over the years, Dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye,” Cooper said. “He taught me how to be self sufficient, not afraid to voice my opinion when it mattered, and the true meaning of being a Christian. It’s not just the time you spend sitting in that pew at church, but how you are seven days a week with your fellow man.”

Harold Hackney taught her to find a job to get what she wanted out of life, that she was owed nothing special but the clothes on her back, food on her table, a roof over her head, and her education, and that love was something precious and intangible requiring respect, trust, giving herself totally, that life is what she made of it, and that her handshake and a promise is worth more than her signature on paper.

“My dad left us in 1995,” Cooper said. “I had to take a leave of absence from the Avon Park Police Department to be up at their place in Crystal River to help with his medical treatments and work with mom to keep things going and understand what the doctors were doing with him.”

One day, her mother called early in the morning. Dad had collapsed at the dining room table, picked himself up and went to back to bed. He said he was okay, but Mom called while Cooper was on the road.

“Dad had already passed away.”

“I can still see his face,” Cooper said, “still hear his voice in some of the things I used to say to our kids, and at times still smell his Old Spice. Dad was hard, but he was fair, honest and true to his word.”



Our Facebook readers said...

“Thank you....I would tell him thank you”

Wolves N Sheep

“I would like to tell my dad I miss him and wish he was here. Not a day goes by in which I don’t think of him. He passed away unexpectedly in 2010 and life will never be the same. My father and I along with my daughter were in the paper interviewed for fathers day a couple years prior to his death... we now come full circle.”

Jennifer Martinez

Fatherly advice...

“My father told me ‘Semper ubi sub ubi.’”

Megan Nichole Davis

“‘Don’t do it’ as he was walking me down the aisle.”

Laurie Pealy Gilliard

“On my wedding day my Dad told me to never stop talking to my husband, never quit communicating and always talk things through. Those words have always resonated throughout our almost 8 years of marriage. I’m happy to say that because we follow his advice we’re still going strong!”

Christy Lee Williams

“My Dad always told us girls to never depend on a man. He taught us how to work on cars, took us to work with him doing construction work, taught us how to farm plant a garden, bale hay an much much much more”

Rebecca Phillips

“‘Sometimes it isn’t the rest of the marching band that is out of step’” helped me at times to pause and reevaluate situations I found myself in where I was convinced it was everyone else that was wrong and I was right.”

Kim Mullins

“If he had one wish/advice for me it would be for me to find a job where I say I get to go to work today and not I have to go to work today. I am pleased to say within only the last year and a half, and I’m almost 30, I have finally made this happen! It is such an awesome feeling. Thanks daddy. Rob Sweitzer-Hard Rider.”

ToddAndrea NFamily

“My father once told me ‘You kids didn’t come with instruction manuals, we are just doing the best we can.’ Which at 8 didn’t make a lot of sense, but now, as a mother, I totally understand it. I will admit that most of the time, I have NO idea what I am doing when it comes to raising my daughter, but I just do the best I can.”

Tracey L Tait-Brown

Can’t really say it like he did but when I was 14 he told me ‘stay away from girls because once you get with one that’s all your life will revolve around.’ But with more colorful expletives.”

Josh Wright

“The world owes you nothing - help is at the end of your own hand.”

Linda Matthews Young