Super DadsLocal dads who have mastered the art of career, community and fatherhood
A small business owner, Aydin Keskiner knows about working hard and putting in long hours. Fatherhood isn’t much different, but it does offer the greatest reward. He and his wife Barbara are in the midst of their greatest adventure, raising 3-year-old Sophie and 15-month-old Maxwell.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? The unconditional love I receive from my kids. It is extremely rewarding to be a primary source of love and guidance in a child’s life.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? I love to sing with them and just goof off around the house. I often chase them around pretending to be a monster that wants to eat them. They get so worked up that everyone is basically just screaming and running around.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Relinquishing control of what goes on in your immediate environment has been a challenge. When you have little children in your life nothing is predictable. I’ve personally had to develop more patience to help deal with the typical toddler behavior. You also can’t worry about taking damage to your home and furniture. Little children view most furniture as an indoor jungle gym.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? Without a doubt, I have been heavily influenced by my family, specifically my father and grandmother. Each possessed different qualities that has helped shaped me, teaching me to raise a family with discipline and structure coupled with unconditional love.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? As a father, my responsibilities to my family, children and community are paramount. Having a family ties you not only to each other but also to the community because we are only as strong as the support we receive from our family and friends. I take pride in helping raise children that I hope will not only make a difference in the world but also in the friends that they make and in the community they live in.
What advice would you give other fathers? Don’t be fooled; men also have child-raising instincts. While we might not be as nurturing, our skill set is a valuable one when it comes to raising children. It is a 50-50 responsibility for our generation of families. Men can change stinky diapers, too.
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? Honestly, the process of achieving balance is a constant struggle. Some weeks are better than others. On the whole I think that we make sure to spend enough quality time with our children while trying to carve out some time for just the two of us.
Dr. Cesar Lara
Married for 27 years, Dr. Cesar Lara and wife Penelope have always put family first. Their children, Julio, Marcus and Zoe, are their inspiration. Lara calls them “a gift from God for which I am forever grateful.”
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? My children’s ability to take me into their world and share their joy with me. In that moment, their smiles and eyes reflect the expansiveness of their imagination.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? Travel. I like to share in their curiosity and sense of adventure. I love moments when we can converse and help strengthen their wings and eyes as they learn to fly.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Coming to grips with the reality that there is no manual. Each child has a unique dream, personality and gift. The challenges are as much reflective of our ability to support and understand as they are of our inability to appreciate the gift that each brings forth through their being.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? My mother and father taught me the gift of understanding and knowing that each head is its own world. They taught me to work hard and recognize that when others tell you what you can’t do, it reflects their limits not yours. I was taught to pray and give to those less fortunate. I have always felt loved.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? I am old-fashioned in that I see myself as the rock by which my family finds support and a stepping stone for my children’s journey. My responsibilities are open ended, Penelope is a great partner and very supportive in assuring that we have a unified message. Whether it is doing their chores, pushing harder toward a goal, cleaning their rooms or talking to them about drinking, sex or self-respect, my gift is my ability to relate to them as a wise and nurturing father.
What advice would you give other fathers? It is a gift. Enjoy and appreciate the moments.
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? It is a conscious decision, and although not always perfectly executed, they are the priority in my life.
What makes you happy? As a father, it’s that moment when each of your children is accounted for, each safe, happy and under one roof with me.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? I love to go to the Straz Center and enjoy a great play or be mesmerized by a great opera.
With family roots that go back six generations in Tampa, Michael Peters and his wife Leigh have added to that history with daughter Reese, 9, and son Kai, 7. While Peters is the founder of SPARK advertising agency and is involved in entrepreneurial ventures, he sees his most important role as dad.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? There is a lot of pride in seeing my kids grow into amazing little people that make good decisions all on their own.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? At their ages, it would have to be throwing or kicking a ball with them. We are all into sports and it is a fun time that we share together that gives me a chance to teach them about sports and sometimes about life.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? I think any business professional with children would agree that we all would like to spend more time with our kids. Balancing time with my kids and time to grow my business is a constant struggle. Some weeks you get it right and others you don’t. The problem with life is that when you finally have time to focus all your attention on your kids, they will be older and focused on their lives and kids.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? My dad and my grandfather both have taught me so much. My dad was an entrepreneur and somewhat of a hippie so that combination influenced my work, life balance and helped me to be more laid back about certain things. My grandfather was a true family man that raised three amazing kids. He spent so much time with me growing up, teaching me about life while we did fun things together. That style of parenting inspires me to be a hands-on dad.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? Being a father is a little bit like being the boss. Being the boss is pretty glamorous when everything is going right, but when things are not, ultimately you are responsible.
What advice would you give other fathers? That is above my pay grade. I am learning how to be a better dad everyday, but if I had to give advice it would be to keep practicing everyday. I think only grandfathers are really qualified for this question.
What makes you happy? My kids smiling. It gives me a feeling that words cannot explain.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? The new Curtis Hixon Park is one of the best things our city has done. They should call that area “Bridgeside” because of all the beautiful historic bridges you pass on the Riverwalk.
Joseph Capitano Sr.
At 73, Joseph Capitano Sr. is enjoying watching his children raise children. Married to Gilda Ferlita for 52 years, they raised six children and now have nine grandchildren. He’s enjoying making memories with his grandkids and loves that they are all in Tampa.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? Well, my kids are adults now, but when my boys were growing up, I loved to coach them in baseball. I coached at Wellswood Little League for 13 years. I watched my girls in dance classes. We all loved to go to Madeira Beach and stay there all summer when they were young. Those are great memories. Today, we still go to Madeira Beach and I have new memories with my nine grands.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Making sure your children grow up to be successful and teaching them to give back to their community. Knowing when to let go is also a big challenge.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? The nuns at Sacred Heart, my Jesuit teachers, my coaches, my grandmothers, my Capitano grandfather Giuseppe and certainly my mom and dad.
As a father how do you view your responsibilities? I tried to always be there for them and to stay in-tune with what they needed.
What advice would you give other fathers? Enjoy your children to the fullest. You do not have them long as children. They grow up fast and become parents themselves.
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? I think almost subconsciously you find time for them and give up things to try to be with them. You need to make time to do what they want to do, like going to family ski-vacations when they were teens when I didn’t care a hoot about skiing.
What is something people don’t know about you? Watching Shakespeare’s Macbeth never fails to intrigue me. I love to cook and help my wife and sometimes even take over our Sunday family dinners. I also love taking care of my grands.
What makes you happy? Relaxing and enjoying my children and grandchildren. I also enjoy reading the newspaper and attending Rays or Bucs games with friends. Taking trips with my wife and close friends is also high on my list. Time is fleeting. Whether it is a country trip to see the change of leaves, an Alaskan cruise or a visit to upstate New York our time together makes me happy.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? The Italian Club of Tampa. I was president there for eight years. I have plunged all of my children into respecting and upholding the importance of its preservation.
David Laxer is part of a Tampa institution, Bern’s Steak House. His parents started the restaurant in 1956 and he grew up in the business. Today, he has his own legacy — his three daughters, Elaina, Amelia and Isabella, with his wife Christina.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? Watching and participating in my daughters’ lives.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? Going to their soccer games or practices and vacations when there are no schedules to follow just fun time.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Juggling the commitments of your job and the responsibilities to your wife and children. And also having time for fun together.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? Certainly my father played a big role, but there also have been fathers of friends of mine that I grew up with that helped shape the way I approach fatherhood.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? At this stage of my daughters’ lives the biggest responsibility is to serve as protector, making sure they are in a safe and nurturing environment and providing the necessary skills and experiences for them to grow and be more self-sufficient.
What advice would you give other fathers? It sounds cliché, but I would say try to capture as many moments with your children as possible because you can never get the time back.
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? I try to be the first one up to get the girls going in the morning for school, that way I see them in the morning. Once they are on their way to school I try to squeeze a little more sleep in. Sometimes the work suffers so that I can be at certain events with my children.
What makes you happy? When my wife and children have smiles and are laughing.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? I am kind of a homebody since I spend a great deal of time away from home due to work. My wife knows that there is one place that is not on the top of my list and that is the beach. Just can’t deal with all that sand.
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Michael Poole came to the U.S. in the summer of 1984 with a dream to play professional baseball. About a week after arriving, he met his now wife Monica at a Gainesville Legion baseball game. Today, the teacher and his wife have two children Megan and Douglas.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? Watching my kids grow, develop and mature. It’s quite fascinating to look at old photos – sometimes only six months ago – and see how they have changed. They change before your eyes but you just don’t see it.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? I like to be involved in their interests. For example, both children enjoy Community Theater so I participate as well. We were all in Oliver together, Scrooge, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Neverland and Sound of Music.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Since I teach 35 fourth-graders during the week, it is challenging for me to have patience sometimes at home.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? My father was my role model. He had the best sense of humor and was always very caring. He always thought about the kids first.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? I view my parental responsibilities as a partnership with my wife. We have to work together every day and accomplish our mission to raise our children to be good citizens and Christians. We also can’t be too shy to ask for help from family, church and friends.
What advice would you give other fathers? The more time you give your children and family, you receive at least two-fold back in rewards that can’t be measured monetarily.
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? With any career, you have to make a stopping point and put it away for the day. It’s the time with your family that counts – we all work to live not live to work. I just lost my father in March. I remember the time he spent with me. He had many jobs and careers throughout his life but they were just a way to bring in money. Living is making memories with your family and friends.
What is something people don’t know about you? I really like to cook. I find it very relaxing to create new recipes and I especially like grilling.
What makes you happy? I love to travel with my family. We have had some great times on vacation. Our favorite places to travel are New York City and the mountains of North Carolina. I also enjoy getting away with just my wife. We try to get away for a weekend every spring and fall. We don’t go far – Orlando or Clearwater beach — but it’s good to have some time as a couple, too.
Born in St. Petersburg, Shane Davis spent six years in the Navy before going on to attend the University of South Florida, where he studied physics and mathematics. He is a partner at WashPat LLC, an intellectual property research firm, but his family is the fuel for his success.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? By far, it’s getting the opportunity to be a teacher to my kids. Whether it is teaching them how to make scrambled eggs or explaining how the Earth rotates around the sun, I have always enjoyed sharing knowledge with them.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? I love to play with my daughter and son in the water. Swimming pools are great, but our beautiful beaches are even better. I love exploring the surf for small fish, hermit crabs and shells. Putting our goggles on and doing a bit of diving in the shallows can be amazing.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Understanding that your children will always pay more attention to your actions than to your words is the single most challenging part of not just fatherhood, but parenthood. I can explain things to them over and over again, but if I don’t reinforce that with my own actions, I am going to fail.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? My own parents, of course. Having my own family has allowed me to understand what my parents were thinking when I was young and has provided me with a much healthier sense of just how difficult raising a family can be. When the chips are down you couldn’t ask for two better people to help you get out of a bad situation. A close second is my wife. She is an amazing woman and the best mother to our children. She is so committed to us day in and day out that she sets an unbelievable standard for me. I love her dearly and don’t ever want to let her down. Remember, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t even be a dad.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? I take my responsibilities very seriously. It is difficult sometimes to think that the relationships I build with my own children will influence, to some degree, the relationships they will have once they leave my house as adults. What our children come to expect from us will go a long way in determining what they will expect from themselves and what they will seek out in others. That is a tremendous responsibility.
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? This has always been simple for me. I work for my family. I own a small business on paper, but I really work for my wife and kids. I keep that in mind every day I step into my office. I am fortunate enough to work in an office where this attitude is unilaterally appreciated and practiced.
What makes you happy? Just being with my wife and kids always makes me happy. We take little vacations together, just the four of us, and I love it.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? Wherever my wife needs or wants me to be is my favorite place in Tampa.
Diaper in hand and in command. That’s Scotty Schrier’s motto and it’s a fitting one for the man who’s on leave from his job at a local nonprofit so that he can care for his wife who’s pregnant and on bed rest and his son. He wears the badge of stay-at-home dad with honor.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? Watching my son discover the world. There is nothing quite like seeing everything through a child’s eyes. Mundane things become miracles. Inconsequential happenings become amazing events. A butterfly becomes a conversation; an acorn becomes a treasure. Every day I wake up wondering what fantastic things he’s going to discover today.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? There’s so many things I love doing with my son, but the all-time favorite thing is probably reading stories to him. I do everyone’s voices and sometimes it can get loud and boisterous. I began reading to him in utero and haven’t stopped.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Patience. Sometimes I have to really step back and realize that this kid is absorbing the world at an incredible pace. Just because he did something right once doesn’t mean that he won’t mess up on it later. Sometimes you have to just toss out your expectations and take life as it’s handed to you.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? I believe that everyone is a role model. Sometimes they show you what to do and sometimes what not to do. Growing up in a broken home meant that I had two dads. They parented very differently and were able to teach me that there is more than one type of dad out there. But mostly, they taught me to be the dad I always wanted. So I have meshed the two together. And I know that even if I make mistakes that my son will still look up to me like I did to my fathers.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? I am very serious about my ‘daddy-duties’. I don’t ever want him to look back on life and say, “Where were you when I needed you?”
What advice would you give other fathers? Change a diaper or two. It seems like such a small deal, but it’s huge to your baby. If you can’t meet a crucial need, your child will not bond with you very well. One need that a dad can fill is changing a baby out of a wet, soggy, uncomfortable mess into a luxuriously dry heaven that is a clean diaper. They’ll appreciate it and dad reaps the benefit of having a baby that likes to spend time with him. That’s why I created DadsWhoChangeDiapers.com. I am compiling a database of places that have changing stations in the men’s rooms.
What makes you happy? Spending quality time with my family. I’m never more happy than I am when I’m with them.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? We love the Florida Aquarium. We make sure to renew our annual passes every year. We try to go at least once a month. No two visits have been the same. And now that we have another one on the way, I can’t wait my son to show his little brother all the cool things he sees.
Christian Palmer, 44, feels blessed to have his four children, three boys, ages 5, 4, and 2 and a newborn baby girl. He and his wife tried for years to have children and were told they never would. Thankfully, the doctors were wrong.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad? The connection. I can be having a painful workday where a million things are going wrong and then one of my kids just climbs up on my lap to be near me and I just melt. Before being a parent I never knew these kinds of emotions. It’s like a million little moments where you feel that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in the universe.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? Talking and being together right before bed. My wife and I will lie down in bed with them and read or sing or just be silly, making up songs or making funny voices. We laugh so much. At those moments, we feel so much like a family.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood? Teaching them values. There are so many ways to live a life and so much of it is unclear as to right and wrong. Almost every day I have to make my best decision as to what I think is an enduring kind of right and wrong and share that in a way that is not intimidating. I don’t want my kids so scared of me that they just conform for now and rebel later.
What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are? Absolutely, my mom and dad. My parents sacrificed every personal desire to make sure we were loved, secure, and ready for the world. That’s how I want to be with my kids.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities? To meet all of my children’s physical and emotional needs, keep them safe, fed and warm and, hopefully, help them find out who they really are so that they can enjoy life. I want to teach them to be appreciative. I think the happiest people in the world are the ones who see all of the amazing opportunities we are given in life. They appreciate every little kindness or opportunity and become better at seeing all the good.
What advice would you give other fathers? Try to be in the moment as much as you can. What I mean is that it is easy to be on the phone when you are at your kid’s ball game. It’s easy to get caught up in multitasking. I do it, too. But if you can ever turn off the rest of the world and just immerse yourself in that moment with them, even for a short time, you get to see that proud little smile that happened because you were exactly what they needed at that moment.
What makes you happy? Being with my wife and kids, seeing close family and friends, being creative, playing guitar, writing, singing, writing songs, genuine connection with people, helping people get from point A to point B, coaching, and being part of a team.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa? The Gasparilla parade. I met my wife there 13 years ago. It was one of those things where you just know you were meant to be with that exact person. We still go every year, only now it’s with the kids.