A day for deserving dads

by Hannah Heckner
Thursday, June 12, 2008

Father’s Day was first celebrated within the walls of William Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in Fairmont, W.Va., on July 5, 1908. The sermon on this summer Sunday 100 years ago commemorated the 361 men, many of them fathers, who were lost in a coalmine explosion. News of this service and its message spread to other states, and by 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the day become a national holiday. In 1966, dads secured a date on the calendar when President Lyndon B. Johnson picked the third Sunday in June to be their day, and six years later, in 1972, President Richard Nixon made the holiday a national observance.
Staff photo by Alex Brawley
Single father Russell Ebelherr and his three children, Ally, from left, Maddie and Christian gather at the stables where Ally keeps her two horses.

Today, most Father’s Day messages appear in Hallmark cards, as opposed to being issued from pulpits, but while the way of expressing thanks has changed across the century, dads remain deserving of them.

Frank Corcoran is a stay-at-home father living in Landfall with his four kids: Holden, Anna, Dillon and Jack. Corcoran decided to take time off work and stay home with his children two and a half years ago after the death of his wife. Corcoran said, “I realized that childhood has an expiration date, and I wanted to be able to make an imprint on our children and raise them the way Elizabeth would’ve wanted.”

He and his children, with ages ranging from 15 to 9, will spend the summer enjoying their new full membership to the club, and the fun will continue for the kids when they go to sleep-away camp in July. With the kids getting older and starting to scatter in the summer, Corcoran treasures the time the family spends together, and for Father’s Day, all he’s asking for is a family day on the boat, and maybe a few handwritten cards to hold on to. When asked what he loves most about being a father, Corcoran replied, “It’s real simple; I’ve been blessed with four kids, and I get to see them grow up every day.”

Another doting dad of Landfall is Russell Ebelherr. He’s the single, work-at-home dad of Ally, 12, Christian, 6 ˝, and Maddie, 4. The Ebelherrs are a fun, active family that loves spending time together, whether they’re traveling to Rhode Island for the Fourth of July, watching (or meeting) the New York Yankees at spring training camp, driving around town belting out their favorite songs in the car, or watching Christian play sports or Ally ride horses. Ebelherr has been working out of his house for 15 years now, and while separating work and home life is hard at times, he loves the convenience of knowing he can easily change his schedule for the kids because “they always come first.” To this proud patriarch, Father’s Day is a day to remember, as a parent, how much his own parents did for him and how grateful he is for his children. When asked what he wanted this Sunday for Father’s Day, Ebelherr answered, “I truly believe I get it every day from all three of them, just watching them grow, change, learn, be happy and stay healthy. The ability to be in their lives every day is just so rewarding.”

We can only hope that dads will continue to be as stand-up and standout 100 more years into the future. Maybe by then, they’ll get a whole weekend, rather than just a Sunday.

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