There are tons of fatherly types out there — new dads, old dads, grand-dads, dads-in-law, stepdads, etc. — but there are even more reasons than types to sing their praises, especially on their special day. Father’s Day is the chance to show Dad how much you appreciate everything he does. (Note: being included on this list automatically nominates you for Father of the Year.)
Dad to Preston
Pinder is father to 8 month old Preston, the newest member in the family’s long lineage. A seventh generation conch, Pinder says he’s excited to pass on the memories and traditions of his family to his son. As one of the original settling families, the Pinder name has roots in the Keys that date back to the 1800s.
Dad to Gabriella, Samantha and Allison
Monroe County firefighter Frank Gonzalez and his daughters – Gabriella, 7, Samantha, 5, and Allison, 2 love going fishing around the Everglades together and boating in general. The best part of being a dad is celebrating his kids’ accomplishments, said Gonzalez. When he’s not busy putting out fires, Gonzalez helps the girls with their homework. He’s become famous at his daughters’ schools – they love telling friends that dad is a firefighter.
Dad to Legend
Howard and his wife welcomed son, Legend Sanders, into the world eight months ago. He still can’t believe he’s a dad, and calls it the best feeling. Sanders had a little practice before Legend arrived, helping out with his nieces and nephews. His diaper-changing skills have certainly improved, said Sanders. When Legend gets older, Sanders wants to spend time together playing ball and going to professional sports games.
Dad to Isla and Ava
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. James Hager is dad to two girls — Isla and brand new baby Ava. He said he loves everything about being a dad and parenting alongside his wife, Autumn. He said he intends to teach them the same lessons he learned from his father: “To be truthful; telling the truth is a good thing to do.”
Dad to Cole and Conner
Monroe County firefighter Jesse Hubman is dad to sons Cole, 10, and Conner, 9. Dad’s public service has inspired Cole to be a fighter pilot and Conner to be a fireman, just like dad. Hubman takes the boys to play baseball or has them help with his woodwork in his free time. He says he’s open to trying for a daughter, too. “It helps that my youngest is also in karate,” he quipped.
Dad to Jill and Jeff
Doran was teaching in Saudia Arabia when his wife, Vicki, began feeling ill. After a visit to the doctor, Mr. Doran was asked to return and then given the big news – his wife was pregnant with their first child. “I remember collapsing into the chair. I brought roses home and told her she was pregnant.“ Doran is the proud dad to Jill and Jeff. His advice: “enjoy every bit of it.
Dad to Olivia
When John Simcic and his wife, Shawna, found out they were having Olivia, now 4, they were excited and slightly nervous. “We embraced it head-on and it’s been the greatest gift,” he said. “Watching her develop and grow has been the best part.” On their “Daddy-daughter days” the two go swimming, play with the family pup, Rosie, and read books. Olivia’s favorite book is about a father and daughter dancing together.
Dad to Johnatha, Cailin, Anna, Robbie and Caroline
Reckwerdt is father to Johnathan, 31, Cailin, 22, Anna, 16, Robbie, 14, and Caroline, 10. Second-oldest, Cailin, said she and her siblings have always admired their dad’s work ethic, problem solving, and resourcefulness – it’s made him the pillar of their strong family unit. The Reckwerdts spend time during summers exploring the Appalachian Mountains, bonding, and most importantly, having fun.
Dad to Sydney
Two weeks ago the Tolpins welcomed daughter, Sydney, into the world. Tolpin is still getting used to not sleeping at night. “I‘ve been telling everyone she‘s up partying all night and sleeps all day. ” When she’s older, Tolpin plans to bring Sydney along on family airboat rides in the Evergaldes and teach her the ways of the “Keys kid.”
Dad to Wilson, Taylor and Jen
This weekend Walt Stephens will be picking up his 15 year old son Wilson who has been visiting family on Coco Beach. “It’s either that or tarpon fish here,” Walt says “We fish every chance we get.”
Walt also has two grown daughters. Taylor is a 22 year old associate architect in Tampa. His youngest daughter Jen has an internship in the fashion industry and will be spending the summer in Manhattan, New York.
Dad to Aydan and Hannah
“They are incredible people. I am bless to have two healthy, intelligent, athletic and outgoing children,” said Dana Child. The whole family is together again this summer with Hannah, 19, home for the summer from University of Florida, and Aydan, 17, getting read to enter his senior year at Marathon High School. “I couldn’t imagine my life without them.”
Dad to Theo Alexander
“They are so alike, like little clones. When people hear my son speak, they think it’s my husband,” said Ganine Derleth of her husband, Theo, and son, Theo Alexander. Ganine says she’s lucky because they are both brilliant. “My husband was always like a fountain of knowledge to me, but my son has learned so many things managing the Liquid 8 pawn shop in Key West for so many years.” Well, we think we can detect the same sparkle of mischief in both sets of eyes!
Dad to Kyler
Ken Fairbrother is the proud papa of Kyler, 11. “I love watching him grow into a little man, so much like I was but with his own crazy personality,” Fairbrother said. The Middle Keys dad said he wants to help his son take advantage of all the opportunities that come his way, plus help him over the obstacles. “I want to instill in him a loving and open-minded mentality that will help him mature into a good person that is kind to others and will pursue anything in life that makes him happy!”
Andrew Goll isn’t a dad yet, but he’s about to be. The Marathon High School teacher’s wife, Heather of Sweet Savannah’s, is carrying the next generation of the family. She said, “I know Andrew is going to make a great father because he loves to mentor kids in sports and in school!”
Dad to Billy Kelly
It was with a heavy heart that Bill Kelly Sr. helped drive his son, Billy, to Maryland to make a new life up there with his three sisters — Tara, Jodi and Sherri — and numerous nieces and nephews. (Kelly Sr. has seven grandchildren and they call him “Pop Kelly.”). His dad said his son, a wildly popular cashier at Publix, made a mark on Marathon. “My kids make me proud. They are good people,” Kelly Sr. said.
Dad to Ian
Ian Michael Mirabella is 15-1/2 months old, and the apple of his father’s eye. “I always wanted kids; this is a dream come true,” said John Mirabella of Castaway Restaurant. “I want him to be happy. And I want to teach him to spearfish, and dive, and sail and travel and eat and cook,” Mirabella said. When asked if his son has him totally wrapped around his little finger he said, “Absolutely. I’m a total sucker.”
Dad to Graham and Miles
Being a teacher means having the summer off, and for James Murphy, that means a fun-filled few months of traveling with his two boys, Graham, 8, and Miles, 6, and wife Andrea. He said his favorite part about being a dad is “getting to eat all the kid food all over again,” like Capri suns, fish sticks, cheese sticks, fruit rollups and “anything that goes in a toaster.” Snacking aside, his other favorite part about being a dad is watching the boys learn new things and grow “and become their own people and become their own selves.”
Dr. John O’Connor
Dad to Sean, Meagan and Joseph
Dr. John O’Connor has three grown children — Sean, left, Meagan, and Joseph. His wife, Ingrid, said he’s a hands-on dad. “He’s very involved with the kids and their friends. He doesn’t hesitate to give them all advice. And he also cares about their careers.”
Dad to Caden
Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Pitcher has himself a reader. “He’s read the complete set of Harry Potter books,” he said, his pride unmistakable. “Caden is super smart for his age.” The dad and 9-year-old have regular “matie adventures” (think pirate), and spend the day snorkeling or just hanging out — “doing the family thing.”
Dad to Kaya, Mikayla and Micah
Jesse Schubert said the best thing about being a dad is getting to hang out with little people just as crazy as he is. He’s pictured here with Kaya, 8, and Mikayla, 7. Not pictured is his son, Micah, also 8 years old.
Dad to Jessica and Rebekah
It’s easy to get local banker Jeff Smith to gush about his girls Rebekah and Jessica. Jessica is living in Orlando and Rebekah is attending Tulane and getting ready for a semester abroad in Australia. “I am very proud of the strong, independent young women they are becoming,” Smith said. “Jessica is finding her passion in the art world and Rebekah is pursuing finance and accounting while managing the basketball team.”
Dad to Adriana, Khendra and Kaitlyn
Being the father of three girls is a wonderful thing, said Carl Stanton. He’s had the opportunity to show Adriana, 13, Khendra, 15, and 20-year-old Kaitlyn how a woman should be treated, he said. “Chef Flavor,” as many people call him, is busy running the culinary program at Marathon High and coaching football, but likes to spend any downtime hanging with the girls. “Whether we go to dinner, the beach, pool or the movies, we just enjoy our time together,” he said, adding Saturday morning will be spent having breakfast. We hope he’s taking a well-deserved break from doing the cooking. This photo was taken on the family’s first-ever trip to the Keys.
Dad to Hannah and Dylan
“He works endlessly, both on the boat and around our house, to set an amazing example for our kids,” said Lisa Ziels of her husband, Todd. He’s dad to Hannah who will be a senior at Marathon High School next year, and Dylan who will be a seventh grader. “He loves his kids unconditionally, but most importantly he keeps our whole house laughing 24/7!”
Dad to Derek, grandfather to Christopher and Raymond
To be clear, Carl Paul never had to use the paddle on Derek or his grandchildren Christopher, 10, and Raymond, 14 — although Christopher does look a little nervous! This is a fourth-generation Marathon family filled with great dads, and potential dads.
Dad to Taylor, Michael, Jared, Brody, Shane and Danielle
Whew! What a brood. Jerry Dieguez, pictured fourth from left, has five children. They are pictured here on the occasion of his daughter Danielle’s wedding. From left, that’s Brody, 5, wife Jennifer, Shane, 9, Jerry, Danielle, 23, and husband Chris Cameron, Michael, 13, Jared, 18, Taylor, 15 and Jerry’s dad Geraldo, 83.
Stepdad to Bryleigh, Lola and Michael (not pictured)
“Adam has been an ultimate positive figure for my three children to look up to. It’s a lot to take on that role and he does it with a lot of love. We have a healthy and happy home and my children are thriving,” said Tara VanHoesen. “I believe this is in large part because of Adam’s influence.” Adam came into the kids’ lives three years ago after Tara’s husband passed away. “It’s not a traditional Father’s Day story, but nonetheless celebratory.”
Dad to Edward, Joseph and Matthew
Marathon Fire Chief John Johnson has three strapping young sons. From the left, they are Edward (the middle child), Joseph (the oldest), and Matthew (the youngest). On this occasion the Johnson men were in Las Vegas to take a special seminar on scrapbooking with recycled materials.
Dad to Casen
John Kotch is the proud father of 6-year-old Casen. This Father’s Day John will be working the Food Truck at Sunset Grill as the boy enjoys the Sunday Funday pool party at Sunset Grille and Raw Bar. Casen shares some of the same interests as his father and has inherited natural baseball abilities. John said he hopes the boy becomes a man that leads by example and admits the child already exhibits some of the tendencies. “To put it mildly, he is strong-willed and a good negotiator.
Kids Brock and Nena (not pictured)
It’s typical for Hector Guzman to take his kids on adventures, complete with the proper adventure pose!. “We practice our weak language skills and jump into foreign waters,” said Brock, adding that his father is the guide for all things regarding fun, relaxation and fulfillment and also expert-level at dad humor. “You’ve been proud of us growing up, and we’re able to say we’re proud of you for your latest accomplishments — through face slam after face slam you graduated kiteboarding school and now we can get on the water on the windy days you used to hate! We love you heaps!”
Dad to Jack
Jonathan Rizzo is warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. His son, Jack, is 6. Ask Dad what he loves most about fatherhood and he will say: “Having a playmate who reminds me how precious childhood is.”
Dad to Noah, Owen, Ella, Lily and Molly
Robert Wright is principal of The Basilica School. He is also dad to Noah (9), Owen (8), Ella (6), Lily (3) and Molly (1). Ask his kids what their favorite thing about him is, and this is what you’ll get:
Noah: There are so many things. He is funny and really good at golf.
Owen: He plays Mario Kart 8 with us.
Ella: He picks me up and spins me in a circle.
Lily: Good listener, Good friend, Go on the potty.
Dad to Isabella
Mike Hartman, general manager/hospitality development of Stock Island Marina Village, is dad to Isabella. They’re going to brunch in Miami Beach for Father’s Day. Isabella says the best things about her dad are his “terrible sense of humor and his encouragement for me to succeed.”
Dad to Monroe, Amore and Audrey
Darren Horan, an attorney at the Horan & Higgins law firm, poses with newborn Monroe and with his father, David Paul Horan, senior partner at Horan & Higgins. He says his plans for Father’s Day are “hanging out with my family,” which includes daughters Amore, 16, and Audrey, 5. What’s the best thing about Dad? “They would say the best thing about me is ‘them.’”
Dad to Jack
To hear Jack Mitchell tell it, his dad, Joe, is really funny, “like hilarious. He makes me laugh all the time.” In the plans for Father’s Day are making breakfast and going to Boondocks.
Dad to Robert Lockwood Jr.
Public Defender Robert Lockwood is about to spend his first Father’s Day with newborn Robert Ryan Lockwood Jr. So what’s on the agenda? “Feeding and changing Baby Robert.” Many dads would agree with his description of the best thing about being a father so far: “Night duty – sitting and holding baby Robert while he falls back asleep.” The two are pictured here with Lockwood’s dad Dr. Robin Lockwood.
Lubos Sarissky, banquet manager at Casa Marina, plays with his daughter Emi, 4, in the family pool. It’s the first Father’s Day celebration with the new addition to the home they share with mom, Julia, and dog, Jack. For more Key West and Lower Keys dads, see page 37. JULIE AMBOS/studiojulie.com
Dad to Emily and Josh
You aren’t going to get more of a jokester than Abe Conn. Emily, who is in college, said her dad is the best because he is funny and has the best dad jokes in town. “He also gives great life lessons and knows just how to make your day just a little bit better!”
Josh concurred. “He takes care of everybody, not just his family,” he said. “He’s loving and passionate about everything he sets his mind to.”
Being the oldest of eight kids, Krissy Wejebe-Maloney knew Dave would make a great dad one day. “He has a great way with kids,” she said. Dave is dad to 16-month old AJ, and loves snuggles after a long day on the water. Dave also brings kids who are identified through Wesley House and Outdoor Dream Foundation for needing a day on the water out fishing through the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation, which honors Krissy’s dad.
“He is an amazing father,” said Vivian Potela of boyfriend John Hartman, dad to Preston, 4-1/2 months. “He is attentive and hands-on, not leaving all the work for just me.” Hartman, who owns Tarzan Tree Company in the Lower Keys, said his favorite things are the early morning feedings and nighttime baths when they get the best dad-son bonding time.
Dad to Summer, 10 and Marina, 6
“He has to put up with me; that’s enough to make him perfect,” said The Weekly’s Kristen Livengood.
Dad to Ainsley and Eagan
“I feel proud to have two great kids that are smart and have grown to be polite young adults with a sense of purpose,” said Michael Cunningham, chief at AHEC Inc. “If this is my biggest accomplishment, I did the best a dad can do. Happy Father’s Day to all of you!”