With Father’s Day approaching, we asked our readers what made their dads special. They responded with stories of strength, patience, perseverance and generosity. Here are their tributes. Happy Father’s Day!
Earl Barmen, submitted by Barbara Berns
My dad, Earl Barmen, had to be the kindest gentleman who walked upon this Earth. He owned a tavern in East Pittsburgh, and a man named Tarry Bender worked for him. During WWII, Tarry was stationed in Burma. I found a letter from Tarry that indicated my dad apparently had offered him a full partnership in his tavern when the war ended. Tarry diplomatically responded that he would always remember my dad’s generous offer. Shortly after receipt of Tarry’s letter, we were notified that Tarry was killed in action. My dad attempted to be so stoic when learning of this young man’s death and how Tarry fought for the safety of our nation. Less than a decade later, at age 45, my mother died of breast cancer. My dad was 51, my brother was 13, and I was an 18-year-old college student with zero skills in anything useful to tackle my new family challenges. But I took up the reins and matured quickly, thanks to my dad’s guidance, patience and support. I feel so guilty to have never thanked my father for my brother’s and my survival and for his sacrifices to make us independent, responsible, honest adults. This soft-spoken, gentle man is always with me in spirit. Thank you, Daddy.
Luddy Israel, submitted by Ken Israel
Although my father died 30 years ago, he continues to have a positive influence in my life in so many ways. What made Luddy Israel, of blessed memory, a great father? Dad did his best to communicate with my three brothers and me and to try to understand us. He taught us how to play baseball, drive a car and — most importantly — be a good person. A gentle man, he was a loving husband and father who saw his primary role as a provider. He was 5 when his family left Romania and 16 when he left home in the Bronx. Equipped with a 10th-grade education, street smarts, and a few dollars, dad eventually joined the Marines and served in the Philippines in World War II. Later he met and married my mom, then for 40 years worked in the scrap metal business with an ironclad work ethic, rarely missing a day. He was an amiable man — everyone liked dad. In his final years, he accepted his health challenges with a quiet dignity and grace. Blessed to have had such an outstanding role model, I strive to pass on these same traits and values to my own children.
Dr. Alexander Kiderman, submitted by Alec Kiderman
All of us make a difference when we come into the world. The very fact that we take up physical and spiritual space makes a difference. However, a huge part of what we contribute to the world depends on each one of us and the choices we make. My father chose to be an adoring and caring husband. He could not have accomplished what he has done so far in his life without the private — but very benevolent and supportive — love of my mother. He also chose to be a generous and loving father. Many of the options he chose were for the benefit of his family. His professional accomplishments to date are quite impressive. Currently, he is a vice president of technology at Neurolign Technology Inc. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia and devoted his engineering and academic career to developing new technology, equipment and software. His initial professional focus was in heavy industries, while for the last 15 years he shifted his interests to developing new diagnostic tools to assess vestibular dysfunction and mild traumatic brain injury. He received more than 50 patents globally and published multiple papers in scientific journals, and presented the results of his research at multiple domestic and international conferences and symposiums. From the Jewish perspective, he has been involved in Congregation Beth Shalom Men’s Club, president of the same, member of the board of trustees, president of Hebrew Free Loan Association, president of Tri-State Region, and now has been nominated to international vice president of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. On this Father’s Day, I toast my father for his multiple accomplishments in all spheres of his life, and even more importantly, for being the special gift in our lives.
Irving Nadle, submitted by Jonathan Nadle
My parents raised me to the best of their ability. It wasn’t always easy; money was tight when I was a child, but I always had the things I needed (even if not always the things I wanted); their love, support and time. I had many fun adventures. My dad would take me on hikes in our local parks and take our family to state parks. From them, my enjoyment and respect for nature developed, ultimately defining my career. My dad would read me numerous books as I took my baths and went to bed, leading to my love of literature and reading. I could tell he was tired at times, but he rarely refused my request of “just one more chapter.” When I got older, on hot summer evenings we’d play Frisbee across the bridge from our Oakland home in Anderson Park. We didn’t have central air conditioning, so afterward we’d sit on the front stoop, cooling off with orange juice popsicles he made for us. To this day, I cherish those fond memories. More recently, my 97-year-old father has shared his WW II experiences as a Seabee. He’s part of the Greatest Generation… and a great father.
Matt Pacal, submitted by Molly Pascal
Matt Pascal (father to Indie, 12, and Otis, 10) is not just “Dad.” He’s friend, teacher, Sherpa, pillow, chef, launderer, repairman, prankster and master organizer of family fun.
Jacob Pincus, submitted by Audree Pincus Schall
My father, Jacob Pincus, was born in Minsk, Russia, where our family held deep Jewish roots. He traveled on the Susquehanna ocean liner to the United States in 1921 at the age of 8. My father was a WWII veteran who served his country with great pride. He taught me about kindness and empathy by his own actions. When I think of my Jewish roots and the fact I am who I am because of my father, I realize he was the most respected and loved person in my life. It will always be my blessing through the Fifth Commandment to show my father the honor and love I always felt for him. I have never known anyone who was so giving and committed to his family. He always told me how proud and how amazingly wonderful it was for him to be my father. He told me all the years of my life “YOU light up MY life.” My father’s light and his memory always shines so bright in my heart. Father’s Day is my opportunity to thank God for being a special daughter to an incredibly special father.
Michael Silverman, submitted by Wyatt, Korey, Henry and Blake
Dad, you have always preached the importance of perseverance and resilience. You have displayed courage and conscientiousness throughout your entire life. You personify grit. We have watched your mental fortitude and resolve strengthen as we have grown up, or, more likely, we have been able to better recognize these traits of yours through our own maturation. As you always tell us, “Steel is forged in fire,” and when faced with life’s hottest flames, you have never wavered from your steadfast commitment to your most intense passions and promises. The love and joy in your heart, as well as your humor and purpose, motivate us every day. We are blessed to have such a kind and courageous father. We are so grateful to you, for you, and we love you so much. You are an inspiration and our hero. Happy Father’s Day.
Oscar Singer, submitted by Lee Fischbach
During the Holocaust, Oscar’s heart is shattered into a million pieces. After the war, he begins each day with a loving and forgiving spirit. We live in a neighborhood of survivors, where he and his friends can speak of their past and cry without shame. My dad teaches us to look beyond a person’s race or religion and see the humanity that lives within. He tells us that prejudice and hate are tools of the feeble and that we must teach compassion by example. He works from sunrise to midnight trying to forget his nightmarish youth. He believes that all negative emotions can be appeased by hard work and physical exhaustion. He is not like the other dads. He picks us up from school in his checkered chef pants, grateful that he is able to spend a few moments with us, before he goes to his second job. He teaches us that deeds are more important than words. He embodies kindness and integrity. He is never too tired to make us a meal, run after us with our coats and mittens, buy our favorite candy, and give us the encouragement to make a better life for ourselves in America.
Lou Weiss, submitted by Bari, Casey, Molly and Suzy
Our dad, Lou Weiss, the humble carpet salesman from Pittsburgh (as he signs most of his opinion pieces) is a mensch above mensches. He dedicates his life to helping others. Nothing makes him happier than spending a few hours, days or even weeks crafting a letter of recommendation for someone, organizing a fundraiser or closing a deal so he can contribute to a worthy cause. He is a great champion of Israel and of the Pittsburgh Jewish community at large. He’s hilarious and can quote, verbatim, any episode of “Seinfeld.” He relishes a good pun. Married for 41 years, he is the lucky husband of our mom. Most recently, he became a sabba two times over. Our best joy is seeing him in that role — especially when it is time to bless the children around the Shabbat table. Happy Father’s Day to the one and only, the best — Lou Weiss PJC