C & G staffers reminisce with tales of dear ole Dad

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 10, 2015


METRO DETROIT — Father’s Day is tough.

How do you express your gratitude for the man who gave you so many happy memories over the years, gave you unyielding support to follow your dreams and the pearls of wisdom to actually get you there?

Somehow, a tie just doesn’t seem to cut it.

So for Father’s Day, some C & G staffers decided to share some favorite stories and words of advice from their own dads. Some are sentimental, and others are a bit funny, but they’re all filled with gratitude for the dudes in our lives who taught us so much.

Pam Tassoni, Sales Executive

My dad, “Archie,” for Arthur, is a serious guy, but always loved to ham it up and have fun! His stories about his work were always colorful and entertaining. My dad and I sang and danced in the kitchen of our house in Northville. We would sing songs like “Porgy and Bess” that I was singing in choir in high school. We would break out in dance, and he would do the “do-dahs” while I sang the verses.  Once, he grabbed his umbrella and we danced and sang to “Singing in the Rain.”

When he was hanging wallpaper, I pulled his pants down as he was stuck on a ladder, and we laughed about that! He used to love to go to the Italian store and bring home fresh baked bread and lunch meat on Saturdays, and we had a ball eating lunch as a family! Dad woke me up in high school by looking out my bedroom window and just making a little clicking noise with his lips so as to not startle me.

He has been a patient and gentle father, and now it is our turn as children to care for him. He is 87 years young in July!

Jennifer (Sakey) Sigouin, Social Media Coordinator

A few of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned from my dad over the years are the importance of having a good work ethic, taking pride in what you do and not cutting corners.

My dad, Robert Sakey, has always been an extremely hard worker, spending many years at General Motors while putting himself through college to become a high school machine shop/drafting teacher — all while raising a family. He puts just as much effort into personal projects, too. His attention to detail always stands out, whether he’s doing something as simple as hanging a picture, or he’s tackling a bigger project like building a deck or restoring an antique bicycle.

Now that my dad is retired, he’s our go-to consultant for the many projects that my husband and I have planned as new homeowners. From giving us all the tools and gadgets we’ll ever need (even if we don’t quite know how to use some of them), to showing us how to do things “the right way” rather than “the fast way,” his help has been invaluable. I appreciate it more and more as I get older.

There’s one piece of advice that I just couldn’t take from him, though. When I told my dad that I was going to major in journalism, he said, “You should go into engineering. There’s no money in journalism.” Looking back, those were wise words, but unfortunately, math and I don’t get along, and I had my heart set on working at a newspaper. As always, though, he had my best interest at heart — I know my bank account would probably be in better shape if I would have listened to him!

Julie Snyder, Staff Writer, Mount Clemens-Harrison Journal
My favorite memory of my dad is him teaching me how to change the oil in a car, change a flat tire, rotate tires and about drag racing. He used to race anything: cars, boats, snowmobiles. ... In the mid-1960s, he was arrested for drag racing with friends on Hall Road. Whoops.

Amanda Brand, Sales Executive
Meet Leslie Arthur Greene, my dad!  They don’t make men like this anymore, at least that is in my eyes! My dad, the greatest storyteller, grandpa and first love of my life! My dad worked in the gold mines of South Africa for 36 years, and it wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized the sacrifice my daddy had to make all of his life to provide for me. I don’t think I exactly ever thanked him for that, so today, even though he is no longer with us, I would like to say to him: “Thank you, Daddy!” Our vacations all over Africa taught me to love nature and to always keep on traveling, because it is there that we will always meet.

Sherri Kolade, Staff Writer, Farmington Press
My father, Alfonso Keaton, was always “Daddy” when I was younger and has, for quite some time, become simply “Dad.” Dad — helping lead a household with a wife, of now 34 years, my older sister and myself — taught me the virtues of life while always quick to shield me from pain.

Remember when I broke my finger in eighth grade and you tried to fix it? We later drove to the hospital. Our family still laughingly recalls that day — my mother still slightly horrified — of Dr. Dad’s attempt to put the pieces together. Dad, you’ve never changed. Fixing broken hearts and bicycle flats, even helping me get my first car.

Dad, you and Mom also never failed to share sage advice: how to work hard, how to become an entrepreneur — remember the rock and allowance business? — and how to count your blessings every day with the help of Jesus.

In between dropping me off at college, nearly three hours away, you and Mom made sure to let me know how much I was loved and cherished. That much-needed support kept me grounded while being an adult on my own. It still does today.

Because of you, Dad, the world has been, and still is, a safer space.

Especially knowing that you are a phone call or short drive away, ready to offer another loving dose of Dr. Dad.

Jeff Demers, Advertising Sales Director and son of C & G founder Gil Demers
When we were kids, our dad had a van for work. It was a panel van with no seats in it.

On Halloween, we all piled into the back of the van — probably eight to 10 of us from the neighborhood — and drove about a mile down the road to our old neighborhood to go trick-or-treating where the lot sizes were smaller, so you could hit more houses.

There were no seats in the back of that van and nothing to hold on to, so that ride was pretty exciting.

Because Dad was the consummate salesman, he would tell us what to say once we got there. He would say, “OK, Gregg, you say, ‘Boy, it’s getting late,’ and Keith, you say, ‘Yeah, it looks like we’re the only ones left on this street.’”

It worked, because all the houses would pile all their candy in our bags because they figured they needed to get rid of it if all the kids were done for the night. That was so much fun.

David Wallace, Editor
My dad talks to strangers. This is generally not what parents teach their children, but like his mom before him, he is happy to strike up a conversation with someone he doesn’t know.

He can go pretty far with it. While in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago for a wedding, we called a cab to take my mom, my dad and me to the Carnegie Museum of Art. My dad started talking to the cab driver, George, who was happy to talk about his life experiences. When George came back to pick us up, my dad walked out to the cab, invited George into the museum, and then bought him cake and coffee. So the four of us sat there in the museum café having cake, coffee and more conversation while the cab sat at the curb.

This trait can be a bit exasperating when you want to leave and Dad is still talking to someone. But in taking a risk and treating people in the way that you would like to be treated, you hear some pretty amazing stories. My dad is not a journalist, but journalists do that sort of thing for a living. So thanks, Dad, for showing me that it’s good to reach out to people you don’t know and hear their stories.

Terry Oparka, Staff Writer, Troy Times
I told a whopper lie to my third-grade classmates during recess at St. Raymond’s that my family was taking this grand trip to Scotland. I said this because a classmate had a toy that I wanted to see, and she wouldn’t share it. My teacher asked my mother about the trip, and I was busted. She asked my father, Jim Haldane, to have “a talk” with me to get to the bottom of why I lied. I told him why, and he told me something I’ve remembered all my life — that no matter what I accomplished or acquired in my life, somebody would always have something I didn’t have, and that was OK. He told me that when he was in high school in the early ’50s, wavy hair was “it” for guys, and he hated his pin-straight hair. But when he attended his class reunion, some of the guys with the wavy hair he so envied had gone bald, while he still had a full head of straight hair. Going forward, that story has helped me be grateful for what I do have and to remember that what we often think is important, in the grand scheme of life, really isn’t.

Jack Padley, Classified Advertising Manager
My dad, Charles E. Padley, was a wonderful, caring father with a playful sense of humor. He also happened to be my Boy Scout leader.  Dad taught me to be prepared for anything, and don’t take anything that happens to me too seriously, make the best of every situation, and keep getting up, and keep moving on with your life.

He said, “Treat everyone with respect. Nobody is better than anyone else. We all put our pants on, every morning, one leg at a time.”

I lost my Dad too soon when he was only 47 years old. I was not prepared, but I got up each day and moved on with my life as he would have wanted. I so wish my kids could have spent time with my dad. Charlie would have made an awesome grandfather!

Kayla Dimick, Staff Writer, Southfield Sun
When I was learning to drive, I was terrified of driving on the freeway. One time, my dad was trying to teach me how to merge. I was driving extremely slow and panicking, saying I wasn’t sure when I was supposed to get over. Without hesitation, my dad yelled, “Floor it!” That advice stuck with me as being helpful for not only freeway driving, but for life. If you want something, you have just got to go for it. Or floor it, in my case.

Sarah Wojcik, Staff Writer, Shelby-Utica News
My dad is a great guy who loves his family. He has always been a good person to just relax with, as you can see from our robes in this photo taken around 1998. He is a good listener, caring, and definitely knows how to have a good time. He’s probably just glad that I didn’t get into some of the trouble that he did when he was younger.

Maria Allard, Staff Writer, Warren Weekly
My dad, Vic Burak, was at his happiest whenever he was camping. Every summer, he dragged me, my mom and my two brothers all over the country on family camping trips. We would pile in our blue station wagon with our pop-up trailer in tow and hit the open road … kind of like the Griswolds in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

No matter how much it rained on us or how often we got lost trying to find our way, my dad was always in a good mood. Every day, he woke up smiling and couldn’t wait to take his family somewhere — a new town, a museum, a hall of fame, an amusement park.

As for me, I hated camping mostly because I had to go for an entire month without television. Yet I would not trade those trips for anything. This year marks my second Father’s Day without my dad.

Christian Davis, Sports Writer
My dad enlisted in the Navy, served multiple tours in Vietnam, held a scuba and pilot license for a time, competed in rodeos when he was young and had many more adventures, but the thing he cared most about was being a good dad.

And he was until the very end. He was an unabashedly loving father, always making sure that I knew he was there for me.

In more than 10 years of playing football, my dad only missed one game. It just so happened to be the game where I scored two touchdowns, the only ones I ever scored. As a perpetual lineman (I also inherited my dad’s lack of speed), this was like winning the lottery twice on the same day and something we joked about for the rest of his life.

My dad, Richard Earl Davis, always kept his sense of humor. He was born on Christmas Eve, so one of his favorite jokes was that he was one day older than Jesus.

I hope to be as good to my son, who is due later this month, as my dad was to me.

One of my favorite memories of him comes from when I was a teenager. We were in the driveway about to leave for school, and the sun was just starting to rise.

He looked at it and said, “You know, this is my favorite time of the day. When everything is quiet and the sun is just coming up. It feels like that sunrise is a gift from God just for me.”

I think about that moment a lot on early mornings. And who knows, maybe that sunrise was just for us.

Tiffany Esshaki, Staff Writer, Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle
My dad taught me a lot of things over the years. You know, essential stuff like how to grill properly, why you should always be punctual (still haven’t got that one down) and the value of a good Motown hit.

And while I unfortunately inherited my weird laugh from him, I also managed to absorb what I consider his most valuable trait: his work ethic. Since I was a kid, he worked hard, tirelessly and constantly to go further in his career. He figured his name was attached to his performance, and he wanted his name to be remembered positively.

So when I ended up working three jobs while enrolled full time in college courses, that was OK with me. It’s the same thing these days when I have to scurry to meet a deadline or work overtime to cover election results or a breaking news story. I’d like to earn a reputation in my industry and my community like his — as the one you can count on to get it done.

Annie Bates, Editor
My dad taught me to ride a two-wheel bike by hanging onto the back and promising with total sincerity that he would not let go, no matter what. He would be holding on. He would never let me fall. Halfway down the driveway, I looked back to see him at the top. He hadn’t held on for even a second. Once, when I was scared during a thunderstorm, a family friend told me it was just the angels bowling. My dad said no. It’s vibrations caused by the discharge of electricity from lightning.

His parenting style is a mixture of dry humor, wicked resourcefulness and ruthless practicality. Whenever I exhibit one of these traits, my husband says, “OK, Joe,” which always makes me smirk.