posttrib
SOGGY 
Weather Updates

Davich: Guys, are you a father or a dad?

Jordan Snider Malden south Valparaiso with his sons Grant 6 left Andrew 5 their backyard. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

Jordan Snider of Malden, south of Valparaiso, with his sons Grant, 6, left, and Andrew, 5, in their backyard. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 66904930
tmspicid: 24125489
fileheaderid: 11896268
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: July 16, 2014 6:09AM



As we all know, there are “dads,” there are “fathers” and there are, well, “sperm donors.”

The latter group is just that – men who helped conceive a child and that’s about it. It’s no secret there are too many of these men in our society, abandoning wives, girlfriends, new mothers and, of course, their children.

Fathers are usually in their kids’ daily lives, though not always on an emotional or loving level. Sure, they put a roof over their heads, feed them, clothe them and protect them, but often they’re not around when really needed. They do… just enough.

Dads, however, go above and beyond mere fatherhood. They’re the ones who put their kids first, who routinely put aside their ego and desires to make their children feel loved, wanted and special. It’s hard work. It’s often thankless work. It’s the most rewarding work.

Today, on Father’s Day, I am introducing you to a few “dads” in this region, starting with Jordan Snider, 34, of Valparaiso.

“Jordan takes his job as dad very serious,” said his wife, Michelle.

Jordan’s father died when he was young and he spent a lot of time with his grandparents, without a father around, let alone a dad. He never forgot how that felt.

“He is a modern-day dad who works hard for a living, but never loses sight of his family values. He teaches our boys how to be manly but still compassionate,” she told me. “Jordan has so much patience with these two little beings. He coaches them to think for themselves and do the right thing. He is a man of example and expectations.”

His favorite words to hear each day after work? “Daddy’s home!”

Mile Mavrovic, 43, of Portage, is another dad to be lauded, says his son, Marko Mavrovic.

“My father is by far the hardest-working person I know, and I would be hard pressed to find another person who does so much and asks for so little,” his son said.

Mile was born in Germany to a Croatian father and a Serbian mother, hopping among family members for the first few years of his life as his parents worked. Today, Mile is an electrician for Portage Township Schools and foreman supervisor of the maintenance department there. He still plugs into his old-world work ethic.

“When I was younger, I did not see him that often as he would work 14-hour days,” his son said. “But I always remember, no matter what day it was or how tired he was, he would read me a book before I went to sleep, followed by tucking me in.”

He is the rock of the entire family, emmigrating here with few possessions and no knowledge of the English language. He has since fused together a family, a livelihood, a life as a dad.

“He is the manufacturer of the architectural and emotional foundation of our family,” his son said. “My father is the epitome of living the American dream and, quite simply, the epitome of a great dad. I am just so thankful and lucky to have him as my father.”

Keith Burton, 46, of Hobart, is the kind of dad who changed diapers, mixed baby formula and happily nurtured the kids in his home as well as provided for them. The U.S. Steel millworker juggled years of shiftwork to spend time with two young grandkids who he has guardianship over.

“They call him dad,” said his wife, Michele.

They also call him “Dr Pepper.”

“When they were little and got hurt, Keith would tell them he was a doctor because Dr Pepper was his favorite drink,” Michele said.

“My husband has stayed home from work when they were sick, cleaned up vomit and diapers, and paid huge amounts of money to care for these little guys. He never once complained. And when they had to go away for a weekend, he cried.”

Dale Holsti, 34, of Cedar Lake, has one child, a toddler named Grant.

Dale is a full-time firefighter and paramedic in Crown Point, and his devotion to his professional brotherhood is equal to his devotion to fatherhood, says his wife, Samantha.

“Dale is always there to answer the call, whether it’s to save a life at work or save the day at home,” she said.

Last fall, Dale answered his door to find that his neighbor was having a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting. With his son sleeping upstairs, Dale provided medical care with the baby monitor still clipped to his side.

“Dale defines true fatherhood,” she said. “He answers the call to educate and entertain his child, but also to raise him by setting an example of selflessness to his family and his community.”

Rick Hinsley, 47, of Wheatfield, received so many praises from so many of his nine daughters, including five adopted ones, that I can’t do him justice in such little space.

”We call him for anything and everything, and we would be a wreck without him,” one of them told me, which best sums him up.

Paul Graegin, 49, of Highland, has three sons, Matthew, Nathaniel and Quinn, two of whom are on the autism spectrum with special needs.

“When I had Matt, his birth father left when I told him I was pregnant,” said Graegin’s wife, Sheri. “I met Paul when Matt was 4. They get along like peas and carrots. Matt was not very high functioning at the time. Paul was great with him. I was amazed.”

“Matt is almost 25 and he will probably live with us forever. Paul will be a proud dad to him forever. Anyone can make a baby, not everyone can parent.”

Remember guys, whether our kids are 2 or 42, let’s tell ’em we love them, tell ’em we appreciate them, tell ’em we’re proud of them. If we can’t do that, especially today, then shame on us for not being man enough to be a dad.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.