By MIKE ROUX
Father’s Day is a great time to talk about heroes. About once a month I read an article about someone who meant the world to the person writing the piece. All too often these words and sentiments are written and published after the person has passed on. I would like to take a couple of minutes to recognize a man who shaped my life while he is still around to enjoy it.
My childhood was very near perfect. I tell people I grew up like Beaver Cleaver. Mom and Dad were both college graduates with great jobs. I mention this because in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s that was pretty unusual for a small town in SE Missouri.
The man who taught me to deer hunt and fish was very busy raising a family. But he somehow always found time for us to spend many weekends a year in field and on the stream.
It is important that I bring up streams because fishing for rainbow and brown trout in the crystal clear Ozark Mountain streams was one of our favorite things to do. State Parks like Montauk and Bennett Springs were great weekend camping destinations. We would regularly take our morning’s catch of trout and get them in the smoker so they would be ready and perfect for supper.
This man also taught me the fine art of snagging spoonbill catfish below the dam at Clearwater Lake. They were some of the biggest I had ever seen or caught at that time. These prehistoric looking monsters were also extremely tasty the way he prepared them.
Other fishing adventures took us to Courtois Creek. There I learned the very specific ways to catch big smallmouth bass and goggle-eye. Again, when this gentleman put knife to fish and then fish to pan, the results were amazing.
This very generous man also knew his way around the deer woods. He taught me marksmanship with a .30-.30. He taught me to track and read sign. We spent hours scouting and planning for opening day each season. And, as always, the reward at the end was a great venison meal and even greater fellowship.
But this fella taught me much more than just hooks and bullets. This great man taught me how a real man acts. He not only showed me how to respect nature, but more importantly how to respect and treat my fellow man.
Dad led by example and stressed respect for women and for my elders. Time and time again he corrected me when I fell short of his expectations of me. For that I am very grateful.
One of the most critical lessons I learned from this guy was watching his concern for those less fortunate than us. His wife was a teacher of mentally handicapped kids and he would welcome them into his home with open arms and a huge heart. He was an awesome friend to them.
Without a doubt the thing I am most grateful to this man for is the love of Jesus Christ that he instilled in me from a very early age. I can remember when he was Sunday School Director at his Church and how he encouraged everyone to share in the Good News.
His character is above reproach and his compassion for others is second-to-none. He served our country in the Army and continues to be very proud of his service in the 1ST Armored Division. He even had a son born at Fort Polk, Louisiana during his time in the Army.
Dad served his community in a couple of crucial capacities. For decades he was the Chief of his town’s volunteer fire department. Later he was elected to the County Ambulance Board and served there for several decades.
With all of this being said about this man who shaped my life, gave to me unselfishly and made sure I grew up to be a man of integrity and character I have but this to say to him right now; Thank you Dad. I love you more than you even know.