By Mike Wilcox, Publisher
This week I gave pause to reflect on my hero, my father. Although he was buried seven years ago, there isn’t a day I don’t think about him, and this week I have conjured up dozens of great moments he and I have shared.
I only hope I have been half the man and three quarters of the father, my dad was. He was the most unselfish, even-tempered person I have ever known. Everyone who encountered him, came away impressed with his knowledge and thoughtfulness.
As an elected official, and he was for 30 years, enduring and never losing 14 elections, my father was very different from the current breed of politicians. Heck he probably would have not survived this day and age of divisive politics.
He was by nature an introvert. He rarely spoke but when he did people actually listened. And his well thought out suggestions and opinions were welcomed by all. His political was conciliatory rather than combative. He for the most part disregarded political affiliation and broke bread and made legislation with members of both sides of the aisle.
After politics, after newspaper publishing, after a few years of daily golf, it was his role of caregiver that I most admire him for. My mother was suffering from dementia and slowly but surely, year after year, it became worse to the point he had to give up golf, give up socializing, to essentially take care of her 24-7.
Not I or my four siblings realized my mother was failing so quickly. None of us lived near their Florida home, and when we made the trip to visit once or twice a year, she seemed okay. Not until after his death and my sister tried to take her in, did we realize the progression of her dementia. My father never let on nor did he ever complain.
But that was him. No complaints, no temper tantrums and always happy despite how dire the situation. It just occurred to me I never heard the man use a swear word. Never ever. Of course it was rare to hear his voice. I remember as a 15-year-old going to my first deer camp. It was a 200 mile drive. That drive seemed like it was 2000 miles because my father never said a word. Not one word on that 200 mile journey.
But that was just him. He would rather let his actions do the talking. And as a newspaperman and a politician he accomplished more than most people. Way back when he purchased a newspaper that was printed on a mimeograph machine and turned it in to a full-fledged weekly must read product. In politics he enjoyed the company of presidents as he rose to become chairperson of the National Association of Counties.
What he lacked in oratorical skills he more than made up in sheer will, determination and hard work. No one worked harder. I can remember as a little kid never seeing my dad on Wednesday nights. That was the night he printed his newspaper and it was an all-night process. He worked it alone, running his little press, week after week, hour after hour.
I marvel at those memories now. I too am a hard worker, and complain very little. I don’t like to swear, and people are nervous around me because I don’t talk much. There is no question I am my father’s son. I couldn’t be more proud. He was a hero to me and others. I hope I can be the same for my son.