HESPERIA — As the nation fires up the grills and showers fathers with unique neckties and manly cologne Sunday, a group of community leaders shared their hearts and wisdom about Father’s Day.
With almost a dozen children under one roof, Reginald and Betty Smith sacrificed life’s conveniences to feed and clothe their little ones.
“We didn’t have much money, but my dad taught me from a young age that you need to give to others with your time, talents and abilities,” said Hesperia Mayor Thurston “Smitty” Smith. “He also taught me that all the money in world can’t buy you health and happiness.”
Smith said his father was an Air Force veteran who moved the family to California from Macon, Ga., when his son “Smitty” was only 9 years old.
“My dad was always volunteering at the church, or helping in the community,” said Smith, whose family lived in Hawaiian Gardens. “My dad volunteered his time by driving for Head Start while my mom taught classes there.”
Like his father, Smith volunteers much of his time with various community organizations, including the local Elks Lodge, Kiwanis Club, Desert Valley Hospital Board, the Victor Valley College Foundation and the Hesperia adopt-astreet program.
After cancer took the lives of two sisters and his mother, and a motorcycle racing accident ended his 19-year-old son Brandon’s life in 2007, Smith said he cherishes the time that he has with his father.
“My dad celebrated his 88th birthday on June 6th, D-Day, and he’s still in great shape,” Smith said. “We need to hug our dads and kids, and tell them that we love them every day. Life is short and we’re not promised tomorrow.”
Smith said his heart is heavy after hearing about Sebastian Joshua Grewal, who died after he was critically injured in a plane crash at El Mirage Dry Lake on Monday.
“I reached out to Sebastian’s father, Joshua, to let him know that I’m praying for his son and the family,” Smith said. “My father’s heart goes out to him.”
With spotty cellphone service on a highway near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood took the time to talk about a special trip with his son.
“Jed’s birthday falls near Father’s Day, so we try to get a trip in during that time. I also take trips with my daughters,” said Lovingood on Friday morning. “I cannot underscore the importance of being a father and the impact that it has on our children. That’s the reason why we’re on this trip.”
After losing his father, Philip, to cancer in September, Attorney Jimmy Mettias, 33, said this Father’s Day is going to be very difficult.
“Last year, my dad was very sick as we celebrated Father’s Day at my sister’s house,” Mettias said. “But even through his sickness and pain, he smiled and we went to church.”
Mettias, who exhausted himself by trying to find a cure, said his father would calmly tell him to stop and not to worry, and that he “lived a good life and was ready to go be with his savior.”
“He was a man of faith and he taught me that being a Christian was not just about just going to church and trying to be a righteous person,” Mettias said. “My dad taught me to see the need in other people and to help everybody that I could.”
Mettias said even though his father died a millionaire, his dad gave away about as much as he earned. “At his funeral, we were surprised at the amount of people that shared about how much my dad helped them,” Mettias said. “I hope that I can be as much of a blessing to others as my dad was.”
Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles said she still remembers how her father, Tony Ramirez, taught her to stand up for herself even as a young child.
“We would go to Thrifty’s to get ice cream and I could barely see over the counter,” Valles said. “He would tell me to speak up and ask for what I wanted. He was not very sympathetic, even when I was crying.”
Valles said her father, who passed away in 1999, wanted her to push aside the tears and get “mad enough” to do something about it when she didn’t get her way.
“Even though my dad wanted to toughen us up, he also made us girls go to charm school every summer to learn to look and act like a lady,” Valles said. “He wanted us to learn about that balance.”
From a daughter’s perspective, Valles said she wishes all fathers would love their daughters while not spoiling them so much that they can’t provide for themselves.
“Dads need to show their daughters how a woman should be treated,” Valles said. “Dads should love their daughters enough to show them tough love.”