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A Tribute to Dad

It was late afternoon on a warm Saturday and my nine-year-old mind was whirling with excitement. There we were…my Dad, his buddy and me…laying on our bellies in a cow pasture looking out across the field. “I can’t see anything, Dad!” “They’ll be out…just watch!” Soon, a groundhog appeared about 300 yards away. He was what we were waiting for.

The farmer had called Dad to come to visit the farm because of the reputation Dad had for hunting groundhogs. They were particularly bothersome for cattle farmers because the cattle would sometimes stumble into the holes and break a leg. So there we laid…Dad and me on a stony ridge watching the old groundhog eating near his hole. Dad’s buddy, Dave, was only a short distance away. I don’t remember why I looked up, but as Dad was preparing to bring the “pig” in his sights, I looked over at Dave. And there, straddling Dave completely was a cow…two legs on one side and two legs on the other. The funny part was that Dave didn’t even know. I poked Dad and pointed to the unfolding scene. Suddenly the groundhog didn’t matter anymore. One quick move and Dave would be trampled. Well, after a while, the cow backed away and walked on down into the pasture. And the groundhog…he met his ancestors another day…but for now his life was spare because of the curiosity of a cow.

I share that story because when I was young, some of my fondest memories were those hunting with Dad…and so it was fitting that Dad would choose to cross over into the next life on, of ALL days, Groundhog Day. Happy hunting Dad…smile.

Photography has always been a part of my life…and it was because of Dad. I remember spending hours running all around Upper Strasburg where I grew up with my Great-Grandmother’s Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic camera that took square pictures on 126 film. I snapped pictures of buildings, flowers, sunsets…anything outdoors because those were the kinds of pictures Dad loved to take. As I got older, I took more and more photos and I dreamed of having the ultimate camera…a 35mm SLR. I remember cutting “actual size” photos of the Canon cameras out from the photography magazine ads just so I could pretend holding them. One day, and I remember this SO vividly, Dad and I were standing in the kitchen of our home there in Upper Strasburg and he was encouraging me to take more pictures…he saw that I had an eye for it. And I remember telling him, “Dad, what I really need is a good camera…one with interchangeable lenses.” And he said, “You mean like this one?” From behind his back, as if by magic, he presented me with a Canon FTb. I was speechless…didn’t know what to say, I was so surprised. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live.

That gift secured in me one of my great loves and passions…a love I continue to this day. The funny thing is that, even though Dad’s ability to take pictures waned due to his health, he actually had more camera gear than me. The last lens I bought for him just a few short months ago was a Canon 85mm f1.8. He saw my lens and the pictures I shot with it and wanted one. I don’t know if he ever actually had the opportunity to use it, but it made him SO happy to have such an amazing lens that his son used to snap some pretty cool car pictures. That was Dad…always the photography buff!

Dad was always conversational and outgoing, a lover of cameras and trains and a collector of model trucks. During his life, he was a truck driver, a security guard, a sound engineer, an electrician, a maintenance worker for the local school district and much more. He loved to debate the Scriptures, talk about UFO’s, help me fly model rockets and reload his own ammunition. He was tenacious but friendly, a wise guy but also always willing to help and serve. He was very sentimental and always praying. That was Dad!

Now he is among old friends and new ones…he is there with Kola and with other precious loved ones…a special little girl comes to mind. Perhaps he’ll get to know your loved ones as well…he IS a talker! In any case, he is no longer suffering but rather, taking pictures of the most exquisite scenes he’s ever laid eyes on…and I think that’s going to keep him busy for a while…at least until I get there, whenever that might be in the future. He will be loved and missed, admired and respected…and always my Dad!


27 Responses to “A Tribute to Dad”

  • Michael:

    Hello Tony,

    Your tribute to your Dad was awesome. I’m saddened that I never had the chance to meet him.

    My Dad (who passed many years ago) started me on my own career in and love of photography. Perhaps they are taking pictures together.


  • Tony,

    I was sad to hear the news of your Dad and happy to speak with you last night. In December when you decided it was best to stay with your Dad and not attend Armand Morin’s training (we missed you!) I knew that your Dad’s time was short.

    You are a great son and a wonderful example for your daughters.

    May you Dad’s memory always be for a blessing.

    With Deepest Sympathy,
    Sherrie Rose

  • Tony,

    My dad passed when my brother and I were very young. He was much to young.

    Then, an uncle sort of took over as a substitute dad. Though he would have been great as such, he to soon passed.

    I am very glad of the time the two of you had together.


  • Hi Tony,

    Wiping away the tears after reading your touching tribute to your dad.

    It is funny how there are anchors in our memory, mental snapshots, that stick with us throughout our lives. Even in the short time I’ve been reading your blog and tweets, I have got a real feel for the special love and bond you shared with your dad. You were really blessed to have had him in your life all this time.

    I have been thinking a lot about my dad this week. He was buried on this day 5 years ago. At the funeral one of my brothers did an amazing eulogy that went way back to our youth. In the same fashion, he recounted with humor and admiration his memories of our dad. I never knew that he felt that way and hope that dad could hear him before the rousing chorus of danny boy filled the church.

    I hope your dad meets my folks in heaven. They would be fast friends.

    We keep them alive in our hearts.


  • Hello Tony,

    I really enjoyed reading your tribute to your dad. It was beautiful and gave us a glimpse as to what a wonderful man he was.

    My dad passed from our earthly presence and into our Heavenly future in 2007 after a long battle with COPD and a single lung transplant. He was 59 at the time.

    I also blogged about my dad last father’s day should you care to read it.

    I will close on that note. Know you and yours will be in my prayers. Take care and God bless.

    David L. Cross

  • Hi Tony,

    Your tribute to your father certainly shows the love and respect you have for him. I know from personal experience you’ll miss him greatly.

    My father died from mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer of the pleura) 12 and 1/2 years ago. I still miss him.

    If nothing else, you know he no longer feels the pain, and that time will make the hurt manageable.

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. I think it helps us all.

  • Hi Tony,

    As you know our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

    Your memory filled tribute to your dad is heartwarming. I have no doubt that he read it and is smiling.

    Eleven years ago today my dad passed at the ripe old age of 91. He followed my mom by slightly less than two years. I miss them.

    One of mom’s elderly cousins and dearest friends passed on this bit of wisdom to me at mom’s funeral, “You won’t get over it, but you will get used to it.”

    Although it’s difficult to see right now things will get better.

    Take comfort that your dad is with the Lord.

    May God bless and keep you and your family.

    Warm regards,


  • Tony,
    Your tribute is very touching and you are very fortunate to have such a great Dad to shape your life and beliefs.

    Most of the senior members of my family have passed over and now all I have are the pleasant memories of their presence here on earth and the times we shared together. As this has happened, I’ve come to realize my own mortality and that the day is approaching when I will see them again in heaven. This makes all the day-to-day issues we face seem rather insignificant.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of transition. I expect you’ve had a trying time with all the losses you experienced in the last year. I pray that God will give you the strength to hang in there and keep looking forward to what’s in store for you. You have been an inspiration to me and I hope we will continue to see your creative talents on the web.

    May God bless and give you Peace,

  • Tony, what a wonderful tribute to your Dad. Your gift is part of the healing. And what a legacy these stories are, both to your family and to those who read them. These stories are the true history of people and should somehow be incorporated into the education of our children. My Mom passed 4 years ago, my sister last year at Thanksgiving. I agree with Elmer… you only get used to it. However, I still feel them with me, so they never truly are gone.

    Keep writing about your Dad, and keep sharing him. He is forever a part of you… he is also a part of the fabric of America.

    My prayers are with you,


  • Hi Tony,

    My dad learned photography in the USMC during WW2. He passed back in April, 1991. I still miss him. Hopefully both our dads will get together and talk photography, among other things. They’ll have a high old time!

    Elmer’s right; you don’t get over it, but you do get used to it. I like to think about my dad and smile when I remember things. I’m glad you have good memories too.

    Blessings in this time of sorrow.


  • Annie:

    Beautiful tribute, Tony. I’m sure your Dad looks down at you with pride and is keeping Kola company for you too. ~Annie

  • Tony,

    What a great tribute. You are such an incredible person. It is a privilege to be counted as one of your friends.

    As you know, I’m still blessed with having my father work so closely with me, I can only imagine what you’ve been going through.

    Know this, your father is in a much better place and he is so proud of you!


  • A great tribute, many thanks for sharing.

    Love and Light


  • Tony,

    I’m really sorry for your loss… but he’s in a better place and his suffering is done.

    I know you really loved your dad and you realize and recognize the blessing he was and will continue to be in your life.

    If there’s anything we can do for you, just let us know… we’re here for you, buddy 😀

    Jim and Terri

  • Tony,

    Although I never met your Dad, I have a bit of insight as to what a phenomenal father and human being he must have been, not only from your blog but from the short time I’ve known you. Having lost my own Dad last year, I understand how lucky we are to have had such great examples in our lives.

    Love & Light,


  • Hi Tony,

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your father. It sounds like you had a wonderful role model and example set before you.

    In Christ,
    Hollye Clardy

  • An eloquent tribute, Tony. As I mentioned to you, my own Dad passed away recently, so I feel your pain. I too share your common love of photography and know your father and I would have been fast friends.

    Mark Couch

  • Kelly Crowther:

    Hey Tony–
    That was a nice tribute to your dad. I’m sure it got cc’d to his heavenly email address. I send my blessings to you in getting through this incredibly difficult and stressful year. Any one of the things you’ve gone through would whack out a person’s nervous system, but to lose your marriage, your father and your beloved Kola in such a short span of time…oh, my heart goes out to you, as well as my thoughts and prayers for your enduring strength through it all.

    Kelly Crowther
    (just a customer)

  • Tony,
    My sympathies for sure. Although there are no dates on your blog entries it’s pretty obvious that you’ve been through H – E – Double L in the past few months. I admire you for making it through and coming out to us. I was one of those who wondered “where you went” but didn’t want to continue to pursue so I “left you alone” (not being a close friend) knowing that something had to be going on. I am so glad you had people like Jim (Edwards) and the others you mentioned to help you through this. Please take all the time you need and I love reading these tribute posts. It gives us only a tiny flavor of what you’re going through but it let’s us know what a truly terrific guy you are.


  • That is an exceptionally beautiful tribute Tony. Gain strength in the knowledge that your Dad is now in a better place, free from pain.

    Thank you for sharing this personal experience. I pray it helps with your grieving.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Tony,


    I just called my dad on the phone. Thank you.


  • Marie-Andree:

    Hi Tony,
    I was reading your posts related to the last few months. All I can say is: There is Light coming to you. I know, I’ve been there.

    I 1992, I my 7-year live in boyfriend took off suddenly. A couple of months later I lost my job, and a couple of months later I lost my health. It was “annum horribilis” as Elizabeth II once said. But the truth is, thank God that boyfriend took off, because he was no good for me. Thank God for the lay-off, it forced me to get higher, university training in Communications AND to obtain my certification as a translator. The health issues brought me to a great (although not very well known) healer and a journey through energy healing that FORCED me to discover and become the healer and healing “teacher” that I am now.

    All this to say: this IS the beginning of a new life for you. Like a clean slate given to you at an age when you DO have knowledge and wisdom to use it fruitfully.

    Go for it! It’s all yours. The road is bumpy to start with, but it does get better. Actually, it even becomes great.

    Love to you!


  • Dear Tony,

    What a heartwarming and inspiring tribute to your dad! My deepest sympathy for your loss. I pray that God will comfort you.

    Mary Jo Tate

  • Tony, What a wonderful snapshot of your Dad!! I loved hearing about the difference he made in your life, and I got tears when I read about the gift of the camera. How like a Dad to know exactly what and when we are deserving of our dreams!

    Your Dad sounds a lot like mine – loving and supportive and interesting and ageless. Maybe they’ll meet now. :-)

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • BTW – I was talking about the “snapshot” of his life – not just the picture :-)


  • There are some beautiful images on your site. Its left me pleasantly excited for the 20th anniversary of Hereford Photography Festival in the UK which I’m shortly heading off to. Thanks for sharing.

  • support:

    I realize that it’s like that your comments were mostly for the sake of creating a backlink, but as a fellow photographer, I like your work. Hope to get to Ireland next year!

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