A Father's Day tribute

My dad is my hero. I depend on him for strength, encouragement, love and wisdom.  He’d be the first to say that he’s not a hero, but rather an ordinary guy.
His goal in life has always been to take care of those he loves and he continues to do so.
He grew up farming in Tennessee, with a few years spent with his family living in Chicago.  During World War II many people moved to cities to find work.  My grandparents both worked, while Dad and his brother spent long hours at a bowling alley setting pins.  My aunt was too young to work and the youngest son hadn’t been born yet.  They returned to Tennessee and resumed farm work.  
My dad was the president of his class at Rives High School and to this day takes great pride in organizing regular class reunions (with lots of help from Mom) and staying close to his classmates.  I’ve had the opportunity to attend several of their reunions and enjoyed sharing the experience.  The close-knit group is good-natured about my questions and requests for tales of their school years.  And they have wonderful stories!  
Despite growing up in Kansas, my Tennessee roots are strong.  I must confess that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed discussing politics in a room full of Southern Democrats on more than one occasion.  Several of my dad’s classmates have been active in politics and have gained remarkable insights along the way.
Perhaps my father’s roots are a reason he always encouraged me to think independently and that it’s perfectly fine to express one’s opinion - even if no one might agree.  Respect others' views, keeping  true to who you are and no pretending to be someone you’re not.    
As a young husband and father who wanted a better life, he moved us to Kansas where he had heard about job opportunities.  He immediately went to work at Boeing, but a lay-off came quickly.  No time had passed before he was laying pipelines and then had the opportunity to go to work for Kaneb Pipeline.  We lived in El Dorado, he worked shift work at the pump station and life was good.  
By the grace of God, we weren’t home the night of the June 10, 1958 tornado.  Our house was totally destroyed and one of our neighbors killed while we sought refuge in a friend’s basement across town.
Immediately after the tornado Dad started helping.  That’s who he is.
He transported several severely injured people to the hospital and helped look for others.  That dark night he refused to sit around feeling sorry for himself and wonder how he was going to replace our possessions.  He taught me about life’s priorities.  Taking care of your neighbors meant much more than material things.   He was living his faith.
Dad’s strong faith has been the anchor for all of us when life’s storms have risen.   Even when my faith has been shaken, Dad assures me that God never forsakes us.
After close to 50 years with Kaneb, Dad retired as supervisor of scheduling in the Wichita office. A nice celebration was held in his honor with many of his co-workers in attendance.  He had made some life long friends.
Now at 83, he’s still going strong.  He works at the Dillons fuel center and also mows the large church lawn in the summer.  He continues to work hard and be a source of inspiration.
I continue to enjoy weekly “adventures” with Dad and Mom.   He still makes us laugh with his dry humor and unique observations.
So, he’ll tell you that he’s just an ordinary guy, but there’s nothing ordinary about him.  
I’ve been blest with the best.  
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You’ll always be my hero.    

Belinda Palmer Larsen is the Augusta City Editor of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: blarsen@butlercountytimesgazette.com