family · My Thoughts

How Many Fathers Does It Take?

Uncle Tanky is third from the left, top row.

Happy Father’s Day, a day to celebrate father figures in my life and all they have done for me. The famous African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true. Being raised in a small country community, I had several influential men in my life besides my dad. As I pondered this idea, I realized the men were quieter influences than the women I identified in my Mother’s Day blog post. They still affirmed who I was and showed by example how to live life.

Millard Warner

Millard was Dad’s best friend from high school. We lived next door to each other until Millard’s death, and he influenced my life with his quiet demeanor and steady presence. We did lots of activities as families and he truly was a second father to me. After his divorce, he ate meals with us regularly. I remember his quiet sense of humor and constant interest in my life, even as a youngster.

Reu Waldroup

Reu was another friend of Dad’s and a continual influence on me. Another quiet man, I had to listen closely to his soft voice because I never wanted to miss his wonderful tales about his ranching experiences or shenanigans he and Dad got into in school. I saw deep love and acceptance in his eyes for me.

Mr. Teague

Mr. Teague taught my eighth grade English class with enthusiasm and a desire to challenge us. His assignments captivated my interest: I wrote a Matt Helm story following that series that was so popular in the late 60s. He had us group-write a play at his kitchen table with his help. I remember our outrageous junior high humor he didn’t curb at all. We performed the play at the monthly PTA meeting and felt successful as playwrights. I’m sure his adventuresome assignments ignited the writer within me, so I’m indebted to him for sure.

He also had a very playful nature. During one of our winter snowstorms, he attached a car hood to the back of his Jeep and used it as a massive sled, pulling us around our little town. We had a ball that day, slipping and sliding over town. After getting more daring, he went out of town towards Trinchera with Billy Mitchell alone on the sled. When we came down the hill by Warner’s stock tank, the sled slid back and forth across the road, and Billy almost crashed into the rock guard covering the culvert. What a memorable day we had with a teacher who loved his students.

My Three Uncles

Throughout my life, I had uncles who touched me deeply. Uncle Gay, who lived in Washington state, always had time for me when they visited each summer, even though he had many other nieces and nephews to attend to. He always had time for me.

Uncle Tanky lived near me my whole life, and I had many interactions with him until he died. When I was in high school, he saw an essay I wrote and questioned me about my choice of studies at Trinidad State Junior College. He lovingly called me “Rada” which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Uncle Hughie entertained me my whole life with his fun-loving sense-of-humor. He lost a leg in a mining accident when he was eighteen and lived with a prosthesis, enjoying a normal life, dancing and doing activities like he had two good legs. Because my dad wasn’t a fisher, he taught me how to fish, and I spent many an hour with him beside a lake, waiting for a fish to bite and enjoying his tales.

My Grandfathers

Granddad Horner lived across town and was a daily father figure for me. Although he was withdrawn and quiet, he lavished me with affection because I resembled his beloved mother, Mattie Jessie. I worked with him on the family ranch and witnessed his dedication to the land, his cattle, and his family. He loved to get his family together, celebrating each one of his grandchildren.

Granddad Dickerson didn’t live close to us, but Mom made sure we saw them often. Granddad Dickerson was exactly opposite of my other granddad. He loved to wrestle on the floor and tickle us to death. He loved his grandchildren dearly, and I saw that lived out.

Don Ming

Don, another friend of Dad’s, helped me so much after Mom died. Whenever I needed his advice or help on what to do on our ranch; he stepped up. His affirming nature made me believe my brother and I could manage our family ranch and do a good job.

My Father

Dad & me dancing - Fathers
Dad & Me Dancing at his 75 birthday party, Branson, CO 1993

Finally, my dear dad, a real live cowboy! Dad loved his family, his wife, and his ranch. He was always available for a hug and a kiss. He called me “Shorty,” and I loved that. I relished the hours we spent together on the ranch, either working cattle, preparing our 4-H horses for the county fair, or just riding around enjoying the land.

Because I lived fairly close to my folks for my adult life, I had the pleasure of multiple trips around Colorado, California and the Southwest with Dad and Mom, and he was always up for an adventure.

I inherited his love for dancing, and anytime I’m on the dance floor, I can feel him near, encouraging me to pursue the hobby we both love.

Any time we were together, Dad entertained us with multiple stories about growing up, school life, cowboy life, and just life. I always drew near, hanging on each word, even though I had heard the tale many times before. He told his story with such exuberance; I felt I was there—a true storyteller!

He was always there for me, supporting me emotionally through my divorces, multiple moves, and any crises that came up.


I know the importance of father figures in a child’s life, especially little girls, for our dads are the first men we fall in love with. I realized I was fortunate to have a dad who also loved me deeply. On this special day, I celebrate my dad and all the father figures who touched me deeply, helping to create the woman I became.

So, how many fathers does it take to raise a child? As you can see, many father figures played an important part in my complete life. Did you have other father figures in your life? If so, who were they and what did they do? (Scroll down a little farther below to make comments!)

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