FATHER OF THE YEAR AWARDS: WHAT MATTERS MOST

Father of the Year Awards
by Karen Alberg Grossman
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Father’s Day was first established in 1910, and formally recognized in 1931. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Father of the Year awards presented by the Father’s Day Council. To date, the Council has raised more than $30 million to deserving family-related charities, including this year’s recipient, Save the Children America. Past Father of the Year honorees have included Mickey Mantle, Ed Sullivan, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Colin Powell, Shaquille O’Neal, Mario Cuomo, Norman Schwarzkopf and many other American heroes.

This year’s honorees are of equal stature. Christopher Irving was the Ashok Sani “All-Star” dad, a military man nominated by his adoring son who read his winning essay. Football superstar Joe Namath talked about the precarious state of the world, noting that as long as there are more good people than bad, we’ll be okay. “Everything starts at home,” he observed, emphasizing the importance of parenting and joking about how much he learned from his daughters. “Women have the right to change their minds; men should go along with this and be grateful to have women in their life.” Namath also spoke about his religious faith, and how lucky he was that two “guardian angels” rescued him from his partying phase back in the day.

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Jerry Storch, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company (Hudson’s Bay, Saks, Lord&Taylor, etc.), was introduced by his wife who noted that they have six kids between them and that family is their focal point in life. Storch spoke about unconditional love being the greatest gift of all. He fondly recalled his own dad, a warm and loving physician who often told him that he’s only as good as his last performance. “He also taught me that life is precious so treat each moment like it’s important and irreplaceable.” Storch then spoke about work/life balance, that you should put your work into your life, not your life into your work.

Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden couldn’t agree more. Once criticized by one of his Congressional opponents for being present for only 86 percent of votes, Biden responded without apology that he’s aware of that fact, and that as a father of three, he intentionally opts for occasional baseball games and teacher conferences. Moreover, his priorities are unlikely to change. “I believe I deserve this award because my kids turned out okay,” he told an admiring audience. “In fact, all of them turned out to be much better people than I am.”