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The Right Questions About Our Fathers

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in Columns

By Gail Stoorza-Gill

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 22. It’s a day when we reflect about our fathers and what they mean or meant to our lives. Some of us are fortunate enough to have our fathers still with us. Others have memories. I wondered what similarities there might be among some of our city leaders about the ìsignificant influenceî their fathers had left with them. You will see that there are recurring themes that have led to an unusual amount of integrity, motivation, drive and, ultimately, success in their son’s and daughter’s ultimate careers.

Here’s to our fathers:

Duane Roth, CEO of CONNECT
Father: Max Roth, Farmer/ Livestock Trader,Wayland, Iowa
“My Dad had significant influence on me including developing a sense of responsibility and awareness emulating life on the farm. Dad taught my brothers and me that there were real consequences of our decisions that affected our family and those we worked with. Dad also believed in education and instilled in me respect for teachers and their role in learning and teaching life’s lessons. He encouraged participation in sports and competition and respect for my coaches, teammates and competitors ­— how to win and  lose graciously. Through all these experiences he taught leadership and prepared me for a much wider world beyond Wayland, Iowa.”

Ronne Froman, Rear Admiral, USN (ret.)
Father: John Zasadni, General Motors worker
“My father’s dream was for his three children to go to college. He had only gone to the eighth grade. At times, he worked three jobs, but all of us went to college and graduated.
Thanks to my Dad and his sacrifice I am where I am today. Because of my Dadís determination to get us educated, I could not let him down. I am now the workaholic over-achiever that all my friends know and love!”

Charles Ross “Red” Scott, retired CEO of publicly-held companies
Father: Patrick H. Scott
“My father was born in Paris, Texas. He lived to be 87 years old and was married to the same wonderful woman (my mother) for 58 years. Pat Scott never admitted it, but we family members always believed he dropped out of school to become a farm hand before he finished the eighth grade. As an adult he learned the trade of “cotton classing” and did fairly well until the Great Depression. In 1933 he lost his job and really never again had a full-time paying job. He seemed to scramble around to find a short-term job that kept body and soul together. Nonetheless, he had a profound effect on me for two distinct reasons.
First, he always felt sorry for the underdog, the poor and downtrodden. Often he would point out a service station deck hand or a waitress and say, ìSon, you see that poor fellow. He/she has children. He/she is trying as hard as possible to make a go of it. We must always be polite and respectful of them and their efforts. They are Godís children too.
He was teaching me the lesson of respect and love for a stranger at the same time he was forced to go to the food bank, hat in hand, with me holding his hand, and collect enough groceries to keep us alive for a few more days. Never once did I hear him complain nor say that the world had done him dirt. He was proud, grateful and thoughtful of those less fortunate.
Secondly, he never missed any involvement I had with a Boy Scout event, sporting event or the like. I played high school football, basketball and track. With exception, I could always look up in the stands and see him standing there so tall and so very proud of me. Sometimes he would be the only father present. Pat Scott was there rain or shine. Can you imagine how much self- esteem that gave me, to know that my Dad cared enough about me to make such an effort?
He has now been gone for 24 years, yet I feel a tear running down my cheek just thinking about how much I owe him.”

Tim Flynn, Rear Admiral, USN (ret)
Father: Tim V. Flynn Jr., Bar Pilot on the Mississippi River
“Throughout his life, my father impressed upon my brother (who became a bar pilot) and me the value of selfless service. As children we saw our Dad leave our New Orleans home to work two weeks each month ìdown the riverî piloting ships at all hours between Pilottown, La., and Southwest Pass. I remember how grateful we were when he was rescued on two occasions after falling from improperly rigged Jacob’s Ladders while boarding ships in heavy seas in the Gulf at night.
As a naval officer, I followed my Dadís example of ìservice before selfî as he fearlessly boarded ships in all weather conditions and seas. I made his personal leadership philosophy my own, specifically: ‘You’ve got to lead, not drive; inspire, not dominate; cause respect, not fear; win support, not opposition.’”

Linda Stirling, RBC Wealth Management
Father: Robert Palmer, entrepreneur/owned menís clothing store
“When I was entering high school, my Dad’s company opened a store in Sacramento and our family moved there from the San Francisco Bay area. In typical 14-year-old girl mode, my attitude was less than positive and I made sure my Dad knew it was his entire fault. The last weekend of summer my Dad took me water skiing in the boat he had bought to assuage his guilt about the disruption of my social life at this critical age. Halfway into the day, Dad stopped the boat in the middle of the river to enjoy the quiet and to give me the lesson of my life. ‘You don’t let life just happen,’ he challenged. ‘You have to grab the opportunity, whether it’s a success of failure.’ He told me that I should run for a position on the student council that very first year. No one knew me so I couldnít be embarrassed in front of an existing clique of friends. My Dad taught me leadership potential that I could not have known at age 14. The campaign was a success and so was the confidence boost that led me to see positions of leadership with great enthusiasm throughout my life. Thanks, Dad!”

David Boatwright, Counsel, Procopio
Father: Donald Boatwright, M.D.
“After proudly exclaiming to my father while debating politics during my college years that I was not a conservative, Dad matter of factly replied, ‘Of course, you’re not a conservative, David. You have nothing to conserve.’ Dad always had that way of distilling complicated concepts into the simplest of expressions.
Ockamís Razor ñ the thesis that the simplest explanation or approach is almost invariably the correct one, was always in his figurative hand. He also taught me that the quality of a man can best be gleaned by how he treats the least fortunate around him. Carrying Ockamís Razor has served me well in my professional life, indeed in the entirety of my life, and at least attempting to appreciate the soul of everyone I meet has given me great joy and a purpose of helping those less fortunate than me. Enjoy a heavenly scotch on your day, Pop. And thank you!”

Ben Haddad, principal at California Strategies LLC and a director of community relations at Science Applications International Corp.
Father: William G. Haddad, stockbroker
“After graduating from UCLA on the GI Bill in 1949, Dad landed a job with E.F. Hutton and still going strong at age 85 at UBS.
Dad has influenced me in more ways than possible to count, measure or explain in a brief column. To paraphrase the words of former President Theodore Roosevelt: ‘My father is the best man I have ever known.’ He is one of the unsung heroes of the Greatest Generation, navigating 18 missions aboard a B-17 bomber before being shot down and taken captive by the Germans in 1944. Upon returning to the U.S., Dad decided to settle in Southern California, instead of his native Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Good thing for me and my siblings.
Dad and Mom have been married for nearly 60 years. Their three children love and cherish them, each and every day.
There are many things about this man that I admire and that influenced me, but if I had to pick a handful of things it would be character, perseverance and fortitude. He is an amazing man, yet I don’t think he would ever think that about himself. I guess I had better throw in another trait of his — humility.”

Gail Stoorza-Gill is an independent marketing consultant and serves on the boards of Security Business Bank of San Diego and Send your ideas for prospective people to feature to or call (619) 223-4815.

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