My father is 89. Nicholas Alfred Filosa has led quite a life, a kid from Massachusetts who grew up to be a bank president. Today, he lives with my mom, his wife of 55 years, just outside Charleston, South Carolina. 

In the 1980s, conservative commentator P.J. O’Rourke signed one of his books for my dad with, “To Nick, the only honest banker on God’s green Earth.” 

It’s a fitting tribute. 

Dad flew on Eastern Airlines, back when you dressed for the plane – he wore a suit jacket – and minded your manners. He drank gin martinis, collected Tom Jones records. He golfed on occasion and was on a bowling team. Vacations were weekends with my mom to Las Vegas in the ‘80s or taking us all to Cincinnati from our home, then, in Indiana, to see the Reds. 

My dad’s one of those people who lives by a simple profound code: Do what needs to be done. Nobody owes you a living. Invest for your future. 

His life’s goal: Working nonstop so he could not only provide for his family — three sons and one daughter (his favorite) — but enable us to thrive. 

The son of a factory supervisor and dress shop clerk sent me to Indiana University and didn’t say a word when I chose English literature as a major. My first job post-college was as a bookstore clerk. 

Today, I wonder if I would support an English major’s dreams. But I’m grateful he let me have a four-year university experience at IU. It’s what he worked for. 

Born in Milford, Massachusetts, to a working-class family, my dad left home at 17 to join the Navy. He was on a U.S. destroyer during the Korean conflict. After four years as a sailor, he returned home and went to community college to study business. 

His big break: landing a job at the illustrious W.T. Grant, or Grant’s – a booming chain of department stores with soaring profits based in Massachusetts, where he was senior finance officer. When the owners of Grant’s failed to change with the times, the company declared bankruptcy. People like my dad were left with nothing.

Nick Filosa, however, doesn’t quit. He moved his family to where he could find work — Atlanta, then Tampa and finally Indiana, where he started as a bank loan officer. His financial acumen turned heads and when I was 15, the rival bank across the street recruited him. Soon after, he was named bank president. 

Why are you so good with finances? You have to study it. That’s part of the job. You have to keep up with the new trends. So I did a lot of reading. 

I’m not as good as you are at it. You wouldn’t listen.

Were you excited to retire in the 1990s? I looked forward to it. Retiring is good if you have a plan and you’re not just going to sit down and fall asleep. We had a plan. We moved to a place we wanted to go to. 

What words of wisdom do you live by? Words of wisdom?

Motivational quotes, like ‘never give up.’ That’s all bulls**t. That’s all bull. First thing I’ll tell you: cash is king. Save cash and invest it. Don’t waste it, like most young people do. I always try to give financial advice. 

You took us to see the Cincinnati Reds back in the day, when it was Dave Concepción, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench. Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? Yes. He deserves it for his playing abilities. 

Why did you have children? That’s what you get married for.

What’s the best part of being a father, having children? By raising children, you get to see something you could have been.

Gwen Filosa
Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.