Dear Annie: Last year, you printed a column on Father’s Day about what makes a dad. There is a huge difference between what makes a “father” and what makes a “dad.”

A father is someone who believes that by donating his sperm for your creation, he has done his duty in life. A dad is someone who gets up every day and does whatever he can to put a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on your table. He might have to dig ditches, flip hamburgers, deliver pizzas, work in a factory — or all of the above. He might not own a suit and tie. He teaches the value of hard work not because he’s looking for help mowing the lawn, but because he knows idleness leads to trouble. He realizes his job is to make his children productive citizens, and to do that, he can’t always be his child’s friend.

When I graduated from high school, I realized I had a dad I respected and with whom I could talk about anything. He taught me to remember right from wrong, no matter where I was or what I was doing. He set the bar and let me go out into the world to make my own way. To me, there is no greater man than a dad. — S.

Dear S.: Thank you for providing a wonderful Father’s Day testimonial. Our best wishes to all the dads who are such excellent role models for their children. Here’s an essay that appeared in this space several years ago, and we are happy to print it again:

A great man died today. He wasn’t a world leader or a famous doctor or a war hero or a sports figure. He was no business tycoon, and you would never see his name in the financial pages. But he was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was my father.

I guess you might say he was a person who was never interested in getting credit or receiving honors. He did corny things like pay his bills on time, go to church on Sunday and serve as an officer in the PTA. He helped his kids with their homework and drove his wife to do the grocery shopping on Thursday nights. He got a great kick out of hauling his teenagers and their friends around to and from football games.


Dad enjoyed simple pastimes like picnics in the park and pitching horseshoes. Opera wasn’t exactly his thing. He liked country music, mowing the grass and running with the dog. He didn’t own a tuxedo, and I’m sure he never tasted smoked salmon or caviar.

Tonight is my first night without him. I don’t know what to do with myself, so I am writing to you. I am sorry now for the times I didn’t show him the proper respect. But I am grateful for a lot of other things. I am thankful that God let me have my father for 15 years. And I am happy that I was able to let him know how much I loved him.

That wonderful man died with a smile on his face and fulfillment in his heart. He knew that he was a great success as a husband and a father, a brother, a son and a friend. I wonder how many millionaires can say that. — His Daughter

Dear Annie: This is for “Bob,” whose stepchildren call him by his first name. It’s not the title. It’s how you are treated. I married my second husband when my daughter was in 7th grade. She called him “my Todders” (his name was Todd). Todders was the one she asked to take her to the father-daughter dance, the one she called when she got a flat tire, the one whose advice she sought. If they love, respect and value you, you are their dad, no matter what they call you. — Florida

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