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Advocate editorial board opinion: Special day reminds us of good dads everywhere

By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 18, 2011 at 1:18 a.m.


Father's Day is a chance to reflect on our dads, offer them praise and assure them of our love. The Advocate asked readers to write about their dads in Top Dads letters.

Below, we see a sampling of those letters and can glean what it means to be a great dad. See more of these wonderful letters beginning on our front page.


My dad, Johnny Brown, is the best in town because he takes such good care of me and our family. My dad tries to get us whatever we want even when we don't need it or even if he can't afford it. Whenever family or friends are in need, he is always there for them if it is for food, money or a place to stay. Even when he cooks, he always makes enough food to feed the neighborhood. Lately, my dad has been ill since he had a right lung collapse. There are times when he has bad days, and my brother Alex and sister BrookeLynn do all we can to help him feel better even if it is just a hug or getting him water. My family was very sad, and we were scared to almost lose him, but he is too strong of a dad. My family and I love my dad so much, and we would be lost without him. This is why he is the best dad in the world.

Johnny Brown Jr.


Gary Fries, a grizzled Air Force veteran and a chiseled 6-feet, 4-inch mountain of man with speckled goatee and flowing lion's mane of hair, can be seen happily shucking wisdom teeth as a local oral surgeon or inspiring furtive glances of admiration from Victoria's female population due to his cosmic, Hollywood looks. Some say he resembles a strange physical mixture of Rob Lowe and Jeff Bridges. I call him my father.

Riveting details and gross exaggerations of his life, an evolution from humble Midwest beginnings to South Texas family man, could fill a best-selling biography, but that's not what defines him as my father and the man I hope so strongly to become one day. The man with a voice identical to mine, who has never laid a hand on me and never will, who instilled values, discipline and a grace unprecedented and understated for such an imposing figure, has loved me unconditionally from the moment he held my newborn self in his arms to the time he dropped me off for college. The friendly surgeon leering over a numb, drooling patient barely scratches the surface of who my father, Dr. Fries (sounds like Freeze), is - all one needs to know about him can be summed up in a single reaction, when I told him I was transferring from his alma mater to a school closer to home. An embrace, a wistful look, and an "I'll love you no matter what." Thanks, Dad, and I love you too.

Jordan Fries


My father Arthur Rader, is the best dad I know. He has always been there for me and everyone else.

He retired years early to move from West Virginia to Texas to help me, a single mother of four, raise my kids. One happened to have cystic fibrosis. My father took over the "father figure." He was their rock. He took them to school, picked them up, watched them while I was at work and took them on vacation every year and more.

When my son at 15 died, my father paid for his funeral. Before my son's death, my dad would take turns with me at the hospital for one-and-a-half years to take care of my son while I was at work.

My father is 73 and still helps out by helping with his great-grandchildren. He baby-sits them, takes them to doctors' appointments and is a wonderful father figure to them. He is the best.

Linda Canales


I would like to nominate my father, Bro. Mike Swearingen, for Top Dad. My father is the pastor at Rushing Wind Church, State Elder for Bikers for Christ, and father to many. He has four girls who love him dearly, then became a foster parent for more than 20 children. Out of those 20-plus children he has adopted six more, totaling his children to 10. He also is a grandfather to 11 grandchildren. My father is funny, wise, loving, caring and full of the Holy Spirit. I am honored to call him Dad. He has never turned his back on any of his family or a stranger. He has a personality that draws you to him and makes you want to be around him. He is wise beyond his years and loves greater than his heart. There is so much I could say about my amazing and awesome biker pastor father of many, but I only have so many words I can submit. I know that he is the Top Dad and now I want you all to know it as well.

Holly Smith


I'd like to nominate Donnie Roddy of El Campo as a Top Dad because he is truly a White Knight. He is always willing to serve at the drop of a hat. He was a Boy Scout Troop 1251 Scoutmaster for 16 years, drove a school bus, on top of his full time job. He always takes the time to spend time with his grandchildren (ages 2, 4 and 8) - from eating lunch or breakfast with them at school or daycare - to taking them for rides on his antique tractors. He is the song leader at his church, and every Sunday, he and the grandchildren will gather at the pulpit and practice gospel songs he wants them to learn. He instills honor, truth, patriotism and loyalty in their teachings, but more importantly, he practices it in their presence. He is a great example for us all.

Sherry Roddy

To all, we say happy Father's Day.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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