Growing Up Katy: Fathers, Family & Faith

COVER STORY | By M.G. Angulo –

Fatherhood means more than just being a dad to some men. Some see it as a gift. For others it is a privilege. Becoming a father offers the chance to break an unfortunate cycle or to continue a beautiful one. For these four Katy fathers, who come from different professions, backgrounds and stages in life, at its simplest, fatherhood brings them a joy incomparable to anything else in the world. For Father’s Day, these men take a moment to consider not only what kind of father they are but just why they savor every aspect of fatherhood.

There are just some memories that stick with fathers. Moments that at the time are special, but as time passes on, weigh more in pricelessness than mountains of gold.  Lance LaCour, 53, and a certified economic developer, has one such treasured memory, and coincidently, it happened on Father’s Day. “My dad, the kids and I all went to an offshore fishing trip, and my kids both caught their first large kingfish,” he said. “They still talk about that trip now and again.”

Perhaps that is the greatest gift of fatherhood, LaCour said, being able to witness your children as “little kids,” and then watching them grow into productive members of the community and society. To get a child to th

Lexi, Lance, Michelle and Emory LaCour.

at point, as a father, is no easy road, but LaCour has a philosophy that has served him well with his children Lexi, 20 and Emory, 17. “Treat other people like you want to be treated,” he said of his philosophy, before adding that “characteristics such as integrity, hard work and perseverance are so important in building and maintaining relationships” are equally important.

And sometimes fatherhood means being like your own father, even if you did not intend to, LaCour pointed out teasingly. “I swore I would not use certain words and phrases that he did,” he shared. “Dad used words like ‘practical’ and ‘analytic’ and other terms. I use those same words much in the same way he does, and my wife, Michelle, reminds me that I sound just like him sometimes.”

The most important advice LaCour had to offer about fatherhood, however, was to “be kind and loving to your wife and kids.”

“Spend as much time as possible with your kids in any way that you can,” he added. “They grow up so quickly, and time flies when you are having fun!”

Aldo Reyes considers fatherhood a privilege, which makes it difficult for him to pick a favorite Father’s Day memory. But what he can say about that day is that it is always a joy to spend with his wife, Katyna, and children Victoria, 14; Juliet, 12 and Steven, 9.

“The kids will typically prepare a special early breakfast before heading to church, and then afterwards we’ll look for an outdoor festival or head to a museum,” said Reyes, who is an energy director.

Juliet, Steven, Aldo and Victoria Reyes.

Juliet, Steven, Aldo and Victoria Reyes.

Fatherhood, Reyes said, has taught him about unconditional love. “I always tell them, ‘It is not your job to love me, but it is my job to love you,’” he said. “As fathers, we must love them unconditionally. No matter the situation, always let them know you have their best interest at heart and that they are loved and supported.”

Much of his parenting philosophy stems from the Bible, specifically Ephesians chapter 6 verses 1 through 5.  “We fathers really have to stand up, look around and take stock in our children’s morals and values,” said Reyes. “It is our job and our role to nurture our children. With all of life’s challenges, kids can sometimes feel overwhelmed. You have to fill their tank daily with love and inspiration.”

Reyes makes a point to daily hug and express to his children that he has loved them since the day each of them was born. The only day the hugs are missed is when he is away on business travel.

Additionally, instilling “faith, charity and service through actions,” is also paramount to Reyes’ fatherhood philosophy. “Fathers need to also recognize mothers,” said Reyes. “It’s important because fathers and mothers are teams. Parenting is a team play. Katyna and I were raised with similar traditional upbringings, so we try to teach our kids to honor and respect their elders. It’s important for them to understand the sacrifices and pains those before us have taken to help pave the way for life as they know it today.”

And like many other fathers, Reyes finds himself repeating the cycle of fatherhood. He often tells “dad jokes” just like his father did, but what shocked him a bit was his father’s strict “army nature.” “Having served in the army, my dad always kept us on a consistent duty schedule starting with making our beds as soon as we woke up and rooms clean before we left. He said this was the best way to get our day started, and as a kid, I just wanted to keep it messy,” shared Reyes. “His good habits wore off on me through adulthood, but as a dad, I thought I’d allow my kids more flexibility. Well, that’s not the case, and I’m a stickler for ensuring the kids keep the same tradition, hopefully instilling a little self-discipline and consistency along the way.”

His experience as a father led Reyes to offer this advice to other dads: “Kids today have a lot more distractions than we did at their age. It’s important that we, as fathers, take a stand for our kids. There’s a song I always look back to as great advice for me — Courageous – which tells us dads to stay on the front lines  standing and unafraid. That we are men of courage answering the call to love our wives and children. Fatherhood is a privilege and one that we should cherish. Mother Teresa said it best: ‘If you want change the world, go home and love your family.’”

The best Father’s Day for Terry Smith came about two years ago when his wife, Terisa, and adult daughter, Lyndsey, surprised him with a lobster dinner. “I know that doesn’t sound like much,” he said with a laugh, “but it was a whole day of fun and will forever stick out in my mind.” He paused before dropping one more clue as to why this particular Father’s Day was the best. “I will say my grandson is now two-years-old.”

Father’s Day is not about gifts and showy moments for Smith, who is a property manager. It is about family and the love that courses through each member of it — whether they are blood related or not. Smith has one daughter and five grandchildren, three of whom are adopted.  “I call them all my grandkids,” he said joyfully of his grandson Tytus, 2; granddaughter Matalynn, 10 and adopted granddaughters: Lem Fiallos, 26; Jae Barroga, 22 and Michaela Barroga, 19.

Terry Smith with grandchildren Matalynn and Tytus Oritz.

He and his wife adopted the older grandchildren more than 16 years ago when their natural grandparents passed.  “The girls have always referred to me as Papaw, and I have always referred to them as my granddaughters. They are always a part of every family gathering, we all attend the same church, we celebrate holidays together, we vacation together and most every other life event.”

And being in a home surrounded by so many grandchildren is why Smith considers Christmas the best moments of fatherhood and grandfatherhood.  “Oh man, we make Christmas a big deal.  It’s extremely special to us,” he said, sharing that he enjoys picking out gifts for them all. “So when Christmas comes around and everyone is at the house, it is just special because the day is not just about the gifts – it is about love and family.”

Smith noted that his grandchildren also give gifts to those in need during the holiday season, which is something that makes him gush with pride. “They’re all Godly children,” he said. “Giving and being a blessing to give to those who need help means a lot to them. It means a lot to me.”

Having grown up with an absent father, but with a “strong, Christian mother,” Smith said fatherhood was milestone in his life that he wanted to excel at. “We, unfortunately, live in a fatherless nation,” Smith said, adding that is one of the reasons he volunteers as much as he does. “But I made an oath to God that when I became a father, I would not repeat the things that tore me up as a kid – that I would not be an absent dad – that I would be there for my daughter.”

As a father and grandfather, Smith has simple advice to other dads, whether they be new fathers or not: “Raise them up right by teaching them to know Christ as their savior. Do that, and they’ll never turn away. Raise them up in the faith. Even if I’m not here, I know my daughter will carry on and even pass this on to her children.”

Having a jolly temperament makes fatherhood indescribably enjoyable for Jason Walker, a vice president for a human resources department, who said loving his daughter, Alexis, 9 every single day and “seeing her grow and develop and have fun” is the best part about fatherhood.  “I have a playful spirit and to be able to do things that I did not get to do as a kid makes me super happy,” he said of the opportunities that arise when a man becomes a father.

Father’s Day also presents opportunities Walker treasures, especially when family unite for a good time. “My best Father’s Day memory was several years ago when I spent time in California with my father, wife Elizabeth, daughter, mom and sister at our favorite winery having a picnic on the patio and enjoying a great glass of red wine,” he said with a smile.

Jason and Lexy Walker.

But fatherhood is not only about relishing a silly nature and fun times, Walker said. It is also about responsibility and a desire to spend as much time as possible guiding your child in the right direction. “My philosophy is to create a Christian home, where we believe in the love and power of Christ,” he said, adding that the second portion of his philosophy is to “always be taking two steps toward your children.”

“You always have to show you care, that they are loved and you are there for them,” Walker stressed.  “Also, time is important. You have to spend time with your kids. I don’t believe in quality of time; it really is about quantifying the time you spend with your kids.”

Fatherhood is also admitting that sometimes you probably sound like your own father, and sometimes that is not a bad thing. “I swore I would never get upset about lights being left on in rooms not being used or the door being left open while the air conditioning is on, but I find myself sounding like my dad on this one,” he added with a laugh.

Still, Walker advises fathers “to not sweat the small stuff.” “Focus on what is really important in the life of your child and family,” he stressed. “I believe the greatest gift a father can provide to his family is the gift of love, guidance and harmony.”

Happy Father’s Day to all of our amazing Katy dads!