Family & Friends

Father’s Day: Let Us Now Praise Steadfast Men

Harold Elleson on farm Babbit, MinnFarming in Babbitt, Minnesota—a possible dream.

In the summer of 1959 we outgrew our tiny bungalow, and our family of six moved to a lake home in rural New Brighton, Minnesota. Next door to us was a farm with a horse, chickens, sheep, and geese. Savoring the quiet evenings and the sound of the rooster crowing at dawn, my father discovered a new dream—farming. After all the years of hard work, dedication to the family, and putting his dreams on hold, my dad had finally found happiness. His workload at the roundhouse had lessened with his seniority. On weekends and evenings, he helped the neighbors with farm chores; he especially enjoyed the simple pleasures of fishing off the dock or taking my mother for a romantic evening ride in the rowboat.

I missed the city, but was glad my dad was happy. In time I adjusted to life in the country. I guess it didn’t matter where we lived, as long as we were together. My father and I spent time in the garden planting seeds in the spring. When the hot days of summer arrived, we picked beans, strawberries, and weeded—not my favorite activity, but it did give me more time with my dad.

As the years passed by, Dad continued to work long hours at the roundhouse. When I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota, I lived at home, and my dad would drop me off at the university. Every morning during our commute, we’d talk about life and our plans for the day ahead. In the late afternoon, I’d catch a bus from campus, transfer to another bus on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. and arrive at the roundhouse shortly before his quitting time. All the way back to New Brighton, we shared stories about our day.

In the late 1970s, my father finally retired. After my grandparents and my uncle passed away. Dad offered to take care of my mother’s family farm. My parents eventually bought the old homestead, and my father was able to finally follow his farming dream.

My father didn’t leave our family with a lot of money, or a wall decorated with awards, or a cabinet full of trophies. Instead he filled my heart with profound admiration for the way he had lived his life. His old-fashioned, undramatic (and therefore unsung) virtues—hard work, dedication to his family, and unending kindness to others—made a huge impact on my life. I was proud and honored to have him by my side as he escorted me down the aisle on my wedding day in June 1972. On Father’s Day, and every day, he is deeply missed.

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  • Diane Dettmann June 18, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you so much Deborah Harkins and Women’s Voices for Change for sharing my Father’s Day essay about my dad. He passed away in 1987, a wonderful man who is deeply missed.

  • Diane Dettmann June 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you so much, Sue for sharing your response to my essay. It means a lot to me that you took the time to read it and that my story inspired thoughts of your dad.

  • sue walsh June 23, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    What a wonderful article about your dad. It made me think about my own dad and growing up. He was a lot like yours.

  • Diane Dettmann June 23, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Kelly, I can’t imagine losing my father that young. What a painful loss. I’m grateful that my essay touched you in a special way. Thank you for all the support you’ve given me on my writing journey. You and your organization, Women For One, are an inspiration to me!

  • Kelly McNelis June 22, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Diane – your words and memories about your dad touched me deeply. My father died when I was 17 and I always relish stories of powerful, loyal and heartfelt fathers of women. Thank you for sharing your truth.

  • Diane Dettmann June 22, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Suzie, I appreciate your wonderful response to my Father’s Day piece. Coming from a talented musician and presenter like you means a lot! Writing the essay brought back so many memories of those simpler times. I’m blessed with a wonderful editor at Women’s Voices for Change who has provide me with support and inspiration.

  • Suzie Umbel June 22, 2015 at 10:18 am


    Oh what a lovely article about your Dad! You know times were simpler back then and you captured the feelings perfectly!

    God Bless,


  • Sari Kaurala June 21, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Diane, I take this as a promise !

  • Diane Dettmann June 21, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Leann and Sari, I appreciate the time you took to read my essay. My dad was a kind hearted man and dedicated to our family. It’s been almost thirty years, yet I still miss him deeply. Your comments mean so much to me. Coffee sounds great Leann. Sari, if I get to Finland we’ll definitely have coffee and some Finnish pastry!

  • Sari Kaurala June 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    What a meaningful life your dad had (in many sense)! Thank you, Diane, for sharing this touching story of your father!

  • Leann powell June 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Diane what great memories you have of your Dad,you hit it on the nose with we didn’t have a lot of money or trophies,but the Love& memories are far worth more! I miss my Dad soooooo much& hold onto those fond loving memories of his love& dedication! You are a wonderful writer& I truly enjoy reading your stories,let’s have coffee soon!

  • Diane Dettmann June 20, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Karen thank you so much for your wonderful response to my essay. I enjoyed writing it and will always cherish the memories I have of my dad.

  • Karen Grossaint June 19, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Enjoyed reading Diane’s article about her Father as Father’s Day approaches. What an awesome tribute to her Dad! Thru Diane’s writing I got to know her dad and the life she lived as a child. Looking forward to July and reading her new book. Happy Father’s Day to all Dad’s out there…those here on earth and those in heaven.