Super Dad

Honoring our Father Figures

By Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

I see the smiles - my six-year-old self and my dad on the stairs of the GatorDen on Alligator Point, the joy of me wearing my whale shirt and fishing on the Mama Gator and the smile on his face the day I married my guy, Britt.

I knew Britt was made for me when he had a boat, loved the water and truly embraced the beach experience on Alligator Point, so much so we married at my little slice of childhood paradise. I digress. In case you are wondering, my dad grew up and worked in Tallahassee his whole life, but was a #gator to the core. 

The place in my heart for my dad is huge and the missing of him equally so. But there are treasured memories, lessons and his wisdom carries me each day. He had started to write a book and had this as one of his goals. One day I will write that book in honor of him. 

Father’s Day is a holiday honoring one’s father as well as fatherhood, paternal bonds and the influence of fathers in society. Sonora Smart Dodd is usually credited for originating Father’s Day in 1910. She wanted to honor her father, a Civil War veteran who raised six children as a single parent. This idea quickly spread, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father's Day a national holiday.

I asked my team if they had a special memory or lesson from a father figure in their life.

Dawn shared how her dad owned his own company. "He taught me to work hard but to also spend time with family. He was a sensitive man, who loved his family. When I worked for him, he was a tough boss, but when we were social, we made a lot of great memories like snorkeling, horseback riding, boating and camping."

“Life lessons I learned from my Marine veteran father - his teachings were centered around respect and helping others who are less fortunate. That assistance doesn’t always hold monetary value, sometimes it comes in the value of a helping hand. He taught me to work hard and find something you believe in and be happy regardless of what the circumstances are”, said Alexandra.

Kristen was beaming with love when she mentioned that the relationship between her husband and three children is precious.  “Every night, Joey knocks on each of their bedroom doors and tells his kids that he loves them”.  She continued that he is very intentional spending time with them.

“Father's Day to me is not only about my dad, who loved to give unsolicited life advice that I later learned to appreciate, but also to the numerous uncles and a wonderful PopPop who have guided me through life. Their collective wisdom and support have shaped who I am today. My dad's loving memory has been with me for the past 14 years” stated Jen.

Jill reflected on how great it has been to observe her husband Greg being a highly engaged dad who loves to spend time with their son. “Greg taught Joe to fish from a very young age and they still enjoy it. They are heading out for tarpon fishing for Father's Day this year. Greg's super-power is optimism and he lifts up and encourages Joe all the time”.

“An important lesson that I learned from my dad,” said Nadia, “is to stay consistent with what you say, let your no be a no and yes be a yes. My dad was very black and white on lots of matters, yet he had an open mind carefully considering other ideas. But if they were not Biblical, he would not let those ideas or thoughts sway his lifestyle or the allowance of what he let us do as kids.” 

Maybe your dad wasn’t a super dad.  Perhaps you know someone that is a paternal figure in your life, who inspired and encouraged you. Maybe you are the one that can be the hope in someone else’s life. Thank you for being you and taking the time to give back.    

If you would like to honor your dad or the name of a father figure in your life, please make your gift today and visit:


For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at or 941-627-3539.