Father’s Day Tributes
My father, Paul Thompson, died in 1995 at the age of 72. He was a science educator who loved physics and earth sciences. Daddy, as we-his five kids- called him, was also an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed baseball, hunting, fishing and playing golf. He was a veteran of WWII who served our country as a staff sergeant in the Philippines and New Guinea.
As a young man, he tried out for the Negro Baseball League and was successful in obtaining a spot with the Birmingham Black Barons but did not play because his mother, a school teacher, insisted that he focus on his education. Thank God his mother insisted that he attend college at Tennessee State University. That is where he met our mother and decided to make a career of educating others. Occasionally, daddy would wonder what his life would have been like if he had played professional baseball. But after a few minutes, he would remember how much he loved teaching and start quizzing my siblings and me on various scientific facts.
During the 21 years since his death, there have been numerous world and personal events I wanted to share with him. He would have been very pleased by the events listed below.
- Tiger Woods winning the Masters in 1997 – Daddy and his brothers played golf religiously from the time they were teenagers. He would have been glued to the television watching this history making event.
- The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States in November 2008 – I rarely saw my father cry but this, I think, would have moved him to tears of joy.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson hosting Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – Daddy was a huge fan of the original Cosmos hosted by Carl Sagan in the 1980s and would have been proud and thrilled to see an African American male astrophysicist hosting the new series.
- April 29, 2016 –My Investiture as the seventh president of Coppin State University – This was the day I missed my father the most. He, and my mother, inspired and expected me to excel in academics and set the stage for me to become a university president.
When I was asked to write about daddy for this Father’s Day feature, I discovered that I do not have any photos of the two of us together. Maybe they are somewhere in storage in New York or Tennessee. My inability to locate a photo of us saddened me deeply and I could not help but cry. As I wiped my eyes, I realized that my eyes are exactly like his. I also realized that I love science, I enjoy watching baseball and golf, and most importantly, like daddy, I love being an educator. These are the things I will think about on Father’s Day.
Maria Thompson – President, Coppin State University
My Dad Kevin Gilbert is a man of few words but deeply grounded in principle. He always taught my siblings and I by example that success was only gained through hard work and perseverance. He always made it his priority to stand with us in celebrating milestone accomplishments in our lives, whether at the bedside of my sisters’ child births, my matriculation to college or on the day I was sworn in to the Maryland House of Delegates (captured in this picture). Happy Father’s Day!
Antonio L. Hayes – State Delegate, 40th District
As the owner of Walker’s Food Market in West Baltimore for 20 years during the late 60’s-80’s, I watched my father deliver groceries to home-bound seniors and extend credit to the working poor to buy nutritious food for their families. What he delivered to me, was the invaluable lessons of integrity, hard work, perseverance and a spirit for helping others. His love and fatherly wisdom were as plentiful as the fresh meat, fruit and bread he provided to the community.
Luwanda Jenkins – Vice President of Community Relations and Diversity, The Cordish Companies
As I reflect on my Dad on Father’s Day, I recognize the example that he has set for me and how I try to follow it day to day. I recognize that he is kind, giving, stern, generous and spiritual. He was not only a father to me, but also my closest friend. He taught us to stick together and help each other to make the right decisions. I model myself around his business ethics which are simply, do what’s right and treat people fairly. I’m thankful for everything he is and everything he has taught me.
Brandon M. Wylie, C.F.S.P – Vice President, Wylie Funeral Homes
My dad, Gerard Young, is the epitome of hard work, sacrifice, humility, generosity, kindness and leadership by example. These are all the things you would typically expect a father to exemplify, but not necessarily what most people would expect from a young black man growing up in inner city America who became a dad at the age of 17 when my older brother was born. In that same year, he and my mom would trade vows and 45 years later, they are still happily married. He’s worked as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service (USPS) for nearly 35 years and in that time has not called in sick to work a single day. That includes working through the Blizzards of 1996, 2003, 2010, 2016; Hurricanes Andrew and Isabel; and countless other extreme weather conditions and the multitude of life events that we all endure. I’ve asked myself on many occasions, could I have been as optimistic or discerning in light of the adversity that he/they faced as teenagers and throughout his life, and after much contemplation and years of experience, I can resoundingly say “yes.” The singular reason I have reached that conclusion is because he has taught me how to persevere and remain positive. His style is never a lecture or “hey son, let’s have a sit down.” For anyone that knows him, he’s direct and to the point or you can learn the first time by observing him. Your choice. My parents did not spend much time in college, as they were busy being young adult parents and providing for our family. However, they are two of the most intelligent people I know and I often say that my brother and I received a PhD in Common Sense from them, worth more than any degree we’ve obtained. My dad enjoys nice things, however growing up he received more joy in sacrificing so my brother and I could have what we needed especially in the way of education and still today, his joy is centered around doing for others. It’s just who he is, it’s in his DNA. There are countless examples that I could point to, but his leadership has been a blueprint for the type of dad and person I aspire to be. I thank God everyday for having a hand in our lives and guiding all of our footsteps. And I thank God for planting me to grow under the care and love of my dad (and mom). Happy Father’s Day!
Karlo Young – Investment Banker, Signal Hill Capital
Strong work-ethic, as he has always held a job since I’ve known him, and seeing him physically go to work each day had an impact on me on what the norm should be. Even when not working his career job (which he held for close to 38 years) he could also be found doing the household work of laundry, landscaping, etc. The point is that he was always working.
Service, as he is continuously volunteering at different organizations year after year, often in a leadership position. He simply enjoys helping others.
(And most importantly to me) Fatherhood, as he epitomizes what it means to be a man. Whether through uplifting my mother in praise or placing me and my sister on a pedestal, my father’s actions have demonstrated to me that family is most important over everything with Jehovah God leading the way. As a new father myself, I realize that I am fortunate to have a blueprint of what it takes to not only be a strong man, but also, an excellent father.
Ashanti Woods, MD – Pediatrician, Mercy Hospital
My father, Andrew Sawyer, is the most hard working man I know and I am fortunate to have him. He has a giving heart, and constantly thinks of how to positively affect the lives of the people around him. Growing up, my family didn’t have much but my father always made it a mission to make something out of nothing, to give his children and wife whatever he had, and for this I call him the world’s greatest magician. My father pours his love in his family through his sacrifice, and because of this he’s the light of my world.
Hannah Sawyer – 2016 Baltimore Youth Poet Laureate
Since my father’s passing at the young age of 32, I am his only child. He is my whole life because he now lives through me.
Naijha Wright-Brown – Co-Owner, The Land of Kush
My father was about education and entrepreneurialism. “Son, never settle for what life has to offer, make sure you have something to give in return.”
Gregory Brown – Co-Owner & Head Chef, The Land of Kush