Such a small word packed with so much meaning. Who among us doesn’t have a significant thing to say about our Dad or father figure? We visualize someone who is strong in every way. To me, the father-daughter relationship is one of the strongest and most unbreakable bonds in life.
My Dad likes to tell everyone he has lived the American dream. He is 75, part of the silent generation the “get it done” generation whose lives were marked by events such as Vietnam, and the post-war boom.
He was born in San Francisco where he attended an all-boys Catholic school. His Dad was an electrician by trade and worked for the Navy for 30 years. He also built the family a cabin in Guerneville on the top of a hill near the Russian Riverway before it became a popular wine country region. At that time it was a place for those living in the city to escape the dreary summer weather. His family would escape the city life and they would spend the summers at the “river”. There were usually 10 to 12 kids at the top of that hill in the evenings and down at the beach by the river during the day. As the years went on the group would grow as grandkids came, but it always remained our sanctuary.
At age 18, Dad enlisted in the Air Force. He was stationed first in Colorado and then March AFB in Riverside with a brief stint in Guam during the Vietnam War. He met my Mom in Colorado. When he went on to Riverside my Mom followed. At that time everyone wanted to go to California so she thought it was a way to escape Colorado’s weather. Both my younger brother and I were born while they were in the Air Force.
After his military service, he started college. His parents were unable to help so he worked part-time and used his GI benefits to support the family and get through school. They claim I slept in a dresser drawer when I was an infant. We moved three times, and our family also grew. Eventually, Dad got his master’s degree at UCLA. Then he worked as a real estate rep for a supermarket chain in the San Francisco Bay Area where we lived for three years.
While living in the Bay Area he was recruited by a commercial developer to partner with him in the San Joaquin Valley. Dad was 30 by then, so we moved to Fresno. It is often unbearably hot in the valley and my brother and I dreaded moving from the Bay’s cooler weather. The only way we were convinced was by the excitement of having his partner’s pool to swim in. That house made an impression on me even from a young age, and I eventually had my wedding reception there.
Dad worked with his partner on various deals. The real estate development business is not one for the meek. There are years of plenty and years of drought. In the early ‘80s, interest rates climbed to double digits and real estate development became almost impossible. Dad’s stubborn determination to succeed is what got him through these difficult times. He had bought some rental homes and decided to put his management skills to work by starting a property management company.
My father began his business out of our home. Soon he rented office space as the business grew. He hired a property supervisor and it became a family business with my mother working part-time. Property management provided a steady income and led to real estate investment opportunities. He accumulated a portfolio of rental homes and developed an office complex where he kept his management office.
Several property supervisors worked for him over the years. Eventually, he sold part of his business to one of them and she built it into her own successful business.
After a serious medical problem, Dad began to consider the income tax burden on earned income and decided to “retire”. My husband had been working with Dad for several years so we decided to purchase the business from him. Dad never truly retired and he continues to manage his personal rentals and the office complex.
At 75, my father still has a small office where my Mom goes to do the books and he conducts his business. His most recent, and he says his last, project is “single-handedly” building a screen room for the vacation property he bought.
My parents have traveled a lot since his “retirement.” Although they have cruised for several vacations to other countries, my Dad always says he has plenty of his country left to see.
My father has achieved everything he strived for and more, he has become the living embodiment of the American dream. He put himself through school with no help. Started his own business, through sheer determination and grit. He has always been willing to help those around him, and not judge on the basis of anything but an individual’s work ethic. My father’s legacy will live long past him, the lessons he taught me will be passed down from generation to generation. He is the anchor in our family, calm and steady, and ready to help us through any storm that may come our way.
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