June means a lot of things to many people. For me, it is my wedding anniversary month; Tracy and I are celebrating 36 years. It’s also the month of Father’s Day, occurring on June 16 this year.

Interesting fact: The amazing father who inspired Father’s Day is a native Arkansan. William Jackson Smart was born in 1842 in Crawford County. After serving in the Civil War, he married his first wife, Elizabeth Harris, with whom he had five children. Sadly, Elizabeth passed away in 1878, and William remarried Ellen Victoria Cheek Billingsley in 1880. Ellen, herself a widow, had three children from her first marriage. William and Ellen had six more children together, expanding the blended family to 14 children.

One of those children was Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Arkansas in Sebastian County in 1882. In 1887, the family relocated to Spokane, Washington, and sadly, Ellen died while giving birth to a sixth child. Sonora and her five siblings, who were still at home, were then raised by her twice-widowed father who never remarried.

While hearing a church sermon about the newly created Mother’s Day, Sonora felt that outstanding fathers like hers should also have recognition. Sonora proposed the idea for Father’s Day in 1910, and it gained national and international recognition. President Richard Nixon made it official by signing a congressional resolution 62 years later, recognizing the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

In memory of Robert “Bob” Atterberg

My personal experience is similar but revolves around my stepfather, Robert “Bob” Atterberg, and not my biological father, Tom Hasten. (Loyal readers of this magazine likely remember an early article I wrote titled “Call Tom Hasten.”) I grew up in a house with a single mom who struggled to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. My mom married my stepdad when I was in grade school, which proved to be a pivotal point in my life. I am certain that without him, I would not be typing this article from this office today.

Not long after he and my mom married, I asked if it was OK to call him “Dad,” and he said, “Sure.” Lest you think that Bob Atterberg was a soft, touchy-feely man, I also recall asking him if I could change my last name to Atterberg, so the other kids would think that he was my real dad. His answer: “It costs $500 to change your name, and no name is worth $500. What people call you doesn’t matter; all that matters is that you are a good person and people respect you.” So, my name remains Buddy Hasten to this day.

A little bit about my dad. My life before him was tumultuous. We moved around a lot, living with other families at times as an alternative to homelessness, and I knew what food stamps looked like and what government cheese tasted like. Like William Smart, my dad had a family of four kids before he married my mom. He took responsibility for me and my brother and ultimately had two more children with my mom. He lags William’s pack of 14, but eight kids are nothing to sneeze at.

He taught me life skills, values and the importance of hard work. He didn’t have a high school diploma; he got his GED instead and served in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. He was quiet, a good listener, incredibly wise and possessed an iron-like will to never waver from his beliefs. His ability to see something through, no matter how hard the task because it was the right thing to do, amazes me as I look back.

We had a sign on our refrigerator that simply stated, “Liars get the belt.” He was true to his word, and we quickly learned that telling the truth yielded less severe consequences than being caught in a lie. He taught me the value of integrity. He always gave me ideas for ways to make money (mowing lawns, cleaning garages, shoveling snow, paper routes, selling manure, picking fruits and vegetables, farm work, etc.) and supported those ideas. By age 13, I was completely financially independent.

Many of my dad’s sayings have been termed “Bobisms,” and we are passing those down to the next generation. Here are a few of my favorites: 1) Life isn’t fair, get over it. Don’t let it make you bitter, let it make you better. 2) People will tell you anything to make you believe something, but if you want to know what they are really all about, just watch where they spend their time and their money, and you will know the truth. 3) Don’t believe everything you hear; use your own mind to critically evaluate things (as an example, he would emphatically state that the world is flat and challenge me to prove him wrong). However, I think the most lasting and important legacy that he left behind is this: He treated me like his own son and never once made me feel like I didn’t belong — that is a gift that keeps on giving today.

The statistics related to children who grow up without a father’s influence in their life are staggering.

Over 20 million children do not have a father in the home, and they comprise 85% of youth offenders in prison, 71% of high school dropouts, 90% of homeless or runaway children, 71% of adolescent patients in drug or alcohol treatment, and they are four times more likely to live in poverty. They don’t have a William Smart or a Bob Atterberg to show them the way.

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers and father figures out there. Don’t forget the impact that you have not only in your children’s lives, but in the lives of their friends and classmates. A good father is an important part of the foundation from which a successful life can be built upon, and thus, my salute to Foundational Fathers this month.