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Dr. Richard F. Gaspar

SuperDadsJune022
Photos by Jeanine McLeod of Cloud 9 Studios.

 

Dr. Richard F. Gaspar is a full professor of mass communication and has taught for more than 20 years. He has been recognized as a site level, county level and state level teacher of the year. He has sponsored the Hillsborough Community College student publications the “Hawkeye,” “Triad,” and “Galeria” and the Hawk Media Club for the past 12 years, helping some of the nation’s best journalists find their start. He has published works in newspapers, magazines, textbooks and online. He has attended numerous state, national and international journalism and mass communication conferences. In 2011, he was honored as the 10th recipient of the CMA Distinguished 2-Year Magazine Adviser Award.  In 2014, he was elected in to the East Bay Wall of Legends. Most importantly, he is the father to four beautiful children, Sarah, Emelé, Natalee and Manny, and spouse of his radiant wife, Judy.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad?
The most rewarding part of being a dad is being a role model, comedian, entertainer, chef, playmate and caregiver for another human being. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing a child sincerely wants to make you proud, and she values your time, dedication and love. The true reward is immeasurable.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
My favorite thing to do with my kids is listen to their stories, questions, and observations. From asking me: “What’s a tarter (Charter) school?” to why am I “fu@*ing (backing) up the truck? (when I back in to a parking space at the YMCA),” I really never know how they view things until they share their interpretations with me. I also enjoy traveling with my kids. I try to take them everywhere I go, from China, to across the state, to across the street. I want them to experience everything.

What is the most challenging part of fatherhood?
The most challenging part of fatherhood is acting on what is important. All parents know that attending a chorus concert, talent show and soccer game is way more important than filing taxes, paying bills, making client calls or completing housework, but sometimes we forget to take action to prioritize what is truly rewarding.

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What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are?
My parents will always be my most important and influential role models. My dad was the youngest son of nine children and spent his early years in a Cambridge orphanage while my grandfather served in WWII. He was the first in his family to attend and complete high school, and worked tirelessly to make sure I had a better life than he did growing up in poverty. Both he and my mother took time every day to read, play and teach us right from wrong, and share with us anything they were doing.

As a father, how do you view your responsibilities?
Responsibilities makes fatherhood sound like a chore. Fatherhood is a choice. It is a conscious decision to accept the obligation to bond with another human being that is part of your life. It is a commitment that should be the most important choice anyone ever makes.

What advice would you give other fathers?
The best advice I have for other fathers is to recognize we are all fallible, but we learn from our mistakes. Make sure your children do so as well. Spend as much time listening to your children as you can. They are from a different time, era and planet than you are. Learn what it is like to live in their world, and then move there.

It is often difficult to balance a career with spending time with your family. How do you deal with this and make time for them?
Balancing a career and family is a fallacy. There is no true balance. You can plan, schedule and commit to a balance, but your family always comes first. You may be in the most important career situation of your life, but when you child falls and breaks his arm, or another child needs you to attend her speech contest, you need to drop everything and be there. Parents need to realize you are not as important as you think, but your children think you’re the most important person in the world. Be that person.

What is something people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know I was the first Mr. East Bay in the inaugural Hillsborough County Bodybuilding Championships in 1983 that was held at King High School for the entire county. Most of my students get a big chuckle when they see the plaque and press clippings in my office.

Gaspar Family
Photo by Susan Jeffers Photography.

 

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is knowing someday (probably not too far off) I am not going to be able to keep up with the four younger people in my wife. I also dread the day when my daughter regrets buying me my most recent birthday present.  It is a bright blue shirt with “DADD” across the front with the subline “Dads Against Daughters Dating” in bright black and red letters.

What makes you happy?
Waking up each morning is a real joyful experience. My 5-year old is usually hanging on my neck, and then we make our way to drag his 9 and 11-year old sisters out of bed. I love being able to wake them up and drive them to school each morning.

Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa?
Tampa is such a great place to raise a family. We enjoy going to MOSI, the Children’s Museum and other venues, but one of our favorite spots is the beach and dock at Little Harbor in Ruskin. I worked there as a busboy when I was in high school. We play in the sand, walk the beach, watch the sun set and relax as a family. There is even a magnolia tree that somehow has the “Gaspar” pirates name carved in one of the low-hanging branches.

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