Father’s Day is Sunday, and today, seven area residents share their memories and feelings about their dads.
They are Cheron Brylski, owner of the Brylski Co. in New Orleans; Rhonda Collins, public information officer aide for Jefferson Parish; Ginger Crawford, longtime volunteer and community activist; Kristian Garic, sports director at WWL AM/FM; Rebeca Hasbun, supervisor with the Department of Community Development’s Hispanic Resource Center in Kenner; Tricia Calamia Lowe, vice president at the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and the founder of the Bonnabel Neighborhood Facebook page; and Mark Romig, president and chief executive officer of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., and the stadium announcer for the New Orleans Saints.
To all fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, godfathers and those who have been like a father to another, here’s to a happy and relaxing Father’s Day.
"Not every kid has a bloodline dad. My biological father abandoned our family when I was 13. I never saw him again until I was 59 years old. During that time period, several adult men became important mentors to me, but none more important than former (New Orleans) Mayor Dutch Morial.
"In many respects, we were two peas in a pod: He was a workaholic mayor who needed a writer always on call, and I was a 21-year-old reporter who wanted to transition to government. I basked in his attention and he schooled me in so many skills they are impossible to innumerate.
"What Dutch was willing to share without measure was his intelligence and worldview. I soaked it up and wanted to be just like him.
"After we left City Hall (in 1986), Dutch and I continued our mentorship and friendship. We talked daily by phone, if not in person. He had coffee with me every Saturday morning at Croissant D'or until he died. When I sunk into a deep depression after the loss of a child, Dutch forced me to get out of my apartment .
"This was my father, the man who taught me that you can trust people who have good hearts, no matter their gender or other accidents of birth. And to this day, I miss him and remember him especially on Father's Day."
“My fondest memory of my father, August Pierce, when I was a child is that he was always there for us. My mother and he decided when they began having children that one of them would always be home. My dad was lucky enough to spend the day shift with his girls — Lisa, Angela and me. My dad combed our hair, got us dressed, cooked, took us to the doctor and anything else needed while my mom was a teacher during the day.
"My father was a bus driver, a barber and a schoolteacher, and on Fridays when my father got paid, we would always, always go out to eat. We would go to the Gumbo House on Louisiana Avenue, A&G Cafeteria or Joe’s Sandwich House. And we always had a night that we did things together such as watch a movie, play cards or board games.
"But the highlight was my father taking us to the airport and parking across the street to watch the planes take off and land. Doing stuff together as a family is what I’ve instilled in my own three sons.”
“While reflecting on my childhood and the memories it evoked, I thought of the impact my father, Paul Riley Spitzfaden Sr., had on me. He was, first and foremost, a gentleman. Dad led by example. When he spoke, we listened. He did everything with integrity, and had a strong work ethic.
“As a WWII and Korean veteran, Dad appreciated the contributions of service in the military, law enforcement, and other community services. Without realizing it, these values shaped my life’s choices. Being in the military and returning to school following his service, Dad worked during the day, went to Tulane after work, graduated with honors, took graduate courses, and went on to a distinguished career in government service and with NASA.
“He then became mayor of Mandeville following retirement.
“Family gatherings with numerous cousins cranking the ice cream maker when peaches and strawberries were in season, picking figs in the many fig trees at Grammy’s, or gathering for special occasions, are fond memories.
“I hope, at the end of my life, that I have lived up to the values my parents instilled in my sister, brother and me.”
“I have a great relationship with my father, David Garic. We talk nearly every day. I seek out his guidance constantly. The mistakes I've made in my life typically happened because I didn't consult my dad. In today's day and age I think parents are afraid to be best friends with their kid. Not me. My dad is really my best friend on the planet.
“Some life lessons my dad taught me were accountability — own your mistakes, don't make excuses as to why someone else prevented you from accomplishing a goal. And set goals for yourself, even if they are lofty.
“My father served in the U.S. Army for 20 years and with that, I experienced a lot of different environments and ways of life. When we lived in New York (West Point) and in my freshman year of high school, he checked me out of school on MLB opening day to surprise me with New York Mets tickets — or I should say, a shot at tickets. I was so pumped about getting to see Dwight Gooden on the mound.
“When we got to Shea Stadium, my dad's plan was to scalp tickets (and it) didn't work out so well. It was opening day and tickets were $300 for nose bleed seats. At that time for an Amy captain that was too steep of a price. So we didn't get to see the Mets on opening day but it was just great fun and a bonding time driving into the city and talking ball with my dad.
“My favorite memory with my dad is hard to define because I have so many but I would say it was when I enlisted in the U.S. Marines, and as Army officer, my dad was able to swear me in the Marines. That's a pretty cool father/son moment that isn't easily topped."
“It’s been 15 years since my father, Mario Lacayo Sr., passed away. He is truly missed by all of us — his children, grandchildren and the great grandchildren. Sometimes we are able to see my fathers’ mannerisms in some of the great grandchildren. My father was quiet and serious but ever so loving. He knew how to love big and his love was free to us all with no condition.
“The love and dedication for his family was immeasurable. My family migrated to the United States in 1954 — my father, mother, my sister who was 3, my brother who was 2 and me who was 6 months old. We spoke no English and my father still managed to find work to support his family, sometimes working three jobs to ensure he was able to provide for his family.
“ He made time for picnics, and traditional trips to Pensacola, barbecues at the lake and picnics at City Park.
"My father taught me many things but there are few that stand out. He taught me how to love unconditionally, how to forgive easily, how to give grace when needed and passed on an amazing work ethic. When I entered the work force the first thing my father told me ‘give 100 percent, be on time, don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand or to acknowledge when you have made a mistake.’ But his most important message to me was ‘work problems stay at work and home problems don’t belong at work.’ ”
Tricia Calamia Lowe
“My father, Joseph Leon Calamia, passed away when I was 16 years. However, despite losing him at a young age, there are a number of special memories we created together that I still think about today.
“Being the youngest of three girls, I think I was the boy my parents never had. My father would take me on fishing trips for as long as my patience would allow. He would also take me to Zephyrs and Saints games. I think this may be one of the reasons I work in sports today.
“Both of my parents instilled the love of our city and the passion for travel. Just before my father passed away, he took me to the French Market to buy locally made jewelry like he had done many times before.
“Our family would take two-week driving trips cross country during the summer from the Grand Canyon and Disney Land to Tennessee Mountains up the Atlantic. I probably complained the whole time but I am thankful for those long trips because those are special memories I have with my father despite not having many pictures with him as I grew up."
“My dad, Jerry Romig, taught me the importance and the joy of finishing a project, whatever it was, and how to do it with precision. One of the team projects we did together involved the landscaping of our family home on Marshal Foch Street in Lakeview. Dad instructed me how to mow the lawn in neat rows, horizontal to the sidewalk, and that each row should measure the same width as the adjacent one.
"When it came to edging the lawn to the sidewalk, he taught me to use hand clippers to ensure the perfect line. At the end of each Saturday’s project, we retired to the kitchen for a celebratory hot dog, chili and the pony size Miller beer.
“One of the biggest treats Dad and Mom gave us during the summers was a trip to Pontchartrain Beach. It was like we had won the lottery when they would announce at dinner that we should all pile into the station wagon and head to the rides at the beach.
“Dad was and still is my hero.”