I am the luckiest guy on Earth. Where some people are lucky to have one, I've been blessed in my life with several great male role models. While they've all had meaningful positive impacts on my journey in life, none more so than my father: Ted Weglarz. ("Thaddicious" to some who know him well)
He leads and teaches by example.
(I apologize for sharing so much personal information, Dad. Few people know what I'm about to share.) He was born to second generation Polish immigrants on the southside of Chicago. His own mother died when he was just a boy. But he molded himself into a great athlete and scholar, earning a scholarship to Wichita State University as a Div. 1 college football tight end. While there, he witnessed the tragic plane crash that killed many of his close friends and teammates. But he also met my mother.
He was drafted into the Canadian Football League, but chose to take a job with Dow Chemical company in Midland, MI instead. A job which he kept and relentlessly worked up through the ranks for 31 years. In 1995, the love of his life, my mother, lost her decade long battle with breast cancer and he was left to raise my younger sister and I alone.
Growing up, my father was an intimidating figure. Easily large enough to turn my stubborn, sarcastic butt into mud if I stepped out of line. But more than that, my father is a man of keen intellect and an enormous heart. I still recall all the long hours he spent teaching me sports and the countless conversations we had(have) about books we've shared. He has sacrificed so much for the sake of my sister and I. Never missing a game of the countless sports we both played, he was always on the sidelines or in the dugout coaching and keeping score. I know for a fact that he has had a profoundly positive influence on my close friends, who grew up with ol' Thaddicious looming over us and demanding we give our best.
He instilled in us kids a deep and enduring love for nature and the outdoors, as well as literature and travel. When he retired from Dow several years ago, he continued to teach us by example as he opened a new chapter in his life and (for the first time in years) made one of his own dreams come true. He applied for a job as the front desk worker at one of his (and my) favorite places on earth: Yellowstone National Park. And despite his professed desire to "have the least amount of responsibility possible", he has naturally worked his way to a manager position the last two seasons. (Which I suspect he only accepted because it awarded him his own private cabin!). So now he spends his summers living in Nature's greatest park, fly-fishing (he taught himself how to tie flies a couple years ago), hiking, and 'hunting' for the amazing animals with his camera. He keeps a great blog about his adventures out there that is worth checking out: Ted's YNP BLog
In the off-season, he ties more flies, combs through the thousands of pictures he took last season, and eagerly helps out at the distillery. It is no exaggeration to say that StilL 630 wouldn't be where it is today without his relentless, tireless, and un-paid help!
My father has taught me so much about life and being a man. And though I've disappointed him countless times in my life, he's never given up on me and remains one of my biggest supporters. No matter what life has thrown at him, and as I said, it's thrown him some terrible obstacles, he has faced it all with grit and determination, only to emerge stronger. Molding himself into the man he wants to be and always striving to improve. He is the quiet embodiment of the Indomitable Spirit that StilL 630 espouses.
He is my inspiration as the father I want to be for my son. He is the best man I know. He is my father. And I love him with all my heart. Happy Father's Day, Dad.