‘What is a great lesson your father taught you?’

Father’s Day offers a chance to acknowledge lessons

Fathers can be bountiful sources of wisdom and in honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, we asked people around town, “What is a great lesson your father taught you?”


Taking a break from a good book and a visit to Children’s Park with her little brother, Khloe Sytsma, 11, of Hood River, had much to say about the best lessons her father, Burt Sytsma, has shared with her.

“He has taught me to always just do my best at everything. If I keep trying and get better, I’ll have more opportunities in my life,” said the Wy’east seventh-grader.

“That’s helped me push myself and put 100 percent into everything I do. I just recently ran for vice president of my school’s student council. I had to put myself out there,” she said. Apparently, the advice paid off. She won the election.


For HRVHS teacher Joe Correa, lessons learned from Howard Kaempff, the stepfather he gained when he was 21, have stuck with him over the years.

“He taught me to find a job and stick with it ... and life will happen around that. He got married after the war, worked at the same job for 30 years, raised his family, bought a house and lived the American dream,” said Correa.

“That is something I try to impart to kids I work with — get a degree, get a job and don’t bounce around. You know, slow and steady wins the race.”


Lessons learned around the pickle barrel and candy jars in his father’s general store still ring true today for Buck Herman, 95, of Hood River.

“The main thing he taught me was to always be honest regardless of how bad it might hurt!” said Herman, who put that advice to good use while serving as mayor of La Grande over many years.

“It’s what got me re-elected three times,” said Herman, who smiled broadly when asked if he followed his father’s advice.

Herman also remembers his father’s way of building community — with the only radio in Hester, Mo., his father would welcome anyone who could walk or ride horses into town during broadcasts. “When people weren’t listening to the radio, they were teasing me!” said Herman with a chuckle.


For Cathleen Rehfeld of Hood River, her father taught her to accept that child-rearing can be a thankless, yet rewarding endeavor.

“My father taught me to give generously and to expect nothing in return,” she said of raising children. “It’s a special kind of relationship.

Though she has no children of her own, Rehfeld said she keeps that lesson in mind when it comes to her nephew.


Kaitlin Brotemarkle, who is from Hood River but is “temporarily” living in White Salmon, was taught from an early age that there was nothing more important to life than leading a happy one.

“He said to do whatever makes me happy; do what you love,” she said. “You don’t have to rush — find your way … which is why I live in Hood River, because it’s Never Never Land!”


Hood River resident Rick Jones’ father taught him an important lesson of self-reliance that Jones once learned the hard way.

“My dad says if I go up in the mountains to not expect search and rescue to find you,” Jones said.

On a hiking trip up Mount Adams, Jones got trapped above the tree line when the weather suddenly changed.

“My dad’s voice was going through my head saying, ‘You got yourself into this, now get yourself out,’” he recalled. “That’s the kind of guy he was.”

Obviously, Jones eventually made it off the mountain, thanks to a friend who had a snowmobile.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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