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This Sunday, families will gather to celebrate their patriarchs for Father’s Day, a time-honored tradition on June 21 where dads are gifted with golf balls, ties — and maybe, maybe some time to relax.

The Outlook talked with four dads we think are doing an outstanding job in their roles, and learned that Father’s Day is more about reflecting on their own upbringing and what they will pass on to the next generation than what they will unwrap.

Mark DeLong

Gresham police officerSUBMIT PHOTO - Mark DeLong said his proudest moment as a police officer was handing a badge to his son, Zachary.

Mark DeLong is an officer with the Gresham Police Department and his son is a new officer with the Portland Police Department.

The Portland Police Bureau’s gain has also benefited the Gresham Police Department. Mark DeLong had finally retired after 28 years as an officer in Portland, but after handing a badge to his son, Zachary, he decided he needed to come back from retirement.

“Shortly after I retired, I handed my son his Portland police badge. It was my proudest moment as a police officer,” DeLong said. “Then he started telling me war stories and I thought, you know what, I need to go back to work and keep up with him.”

Mark DeLong credits his success as a father to support from his wife, Danyelle, along with just having great kids: his son, Zachary, and daughter, Shelby.

“I’m just proud of my kids and the people they’ve become,” DeLong said. “(On Father’s Day), I think about my own dad, and I think about the traits he’s passed down to me, and now I pass down to them.”

Those traits are what makes DeLong a great officer and a great dad.

“I think the biggest piece of advice that I’ve told Zachary and Shelby is that we’re no better than the person we have in the backseat of the (police) car that we’ve just scooped up,” DeLong said. “We’re no better than them at all and always keep that perspective.”

Shelby too has followed in her father’s footsteps of wanting to help the community and is training to be a firefighter.

“I preach to them to be humble,” DeLong said. “My success as an officer is from God, my family and my wonderful coworkers. I’ll never be the best cop, but I’ll always have the best attitude.

“I’ve got a great spouse who’s been a great mother,” DeLong continued. “It’s the greatest honor I could have as a man to be a dad, and boy am I blessed with the kids I ended up with.”

Don Butler

An employee at Pathfinders of Oregon OUTLOOK PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Don Butler enjoys his second act in life as a grandfather after overcoming many challenges.

Father’s Day in Don Butler’s life is a reminder of how he’s turned his life around from a self-destructive alcoholic to an involved parent and community leader.

For a time, Butler felt like he had lost it all after a bout of depression, alcoholism and jail time turned his life upside down. From drinking, he ruined his liver and had to be put on a waiting list for a transplant and, for a time, his relationship with his children — Jennifer, Alexander and Jordan — was strained.

But his children also were the motivating factors that brought him back to health.

“Family was everything to me growing up,” Butler said. “I wanted that back for my kids. When my thinking started to clear … I started hearing things about how their lives were and it crushed me. I wanted to be a dad again, and that was absolutely 100 percent what drove me so hard to get my life back in order.”

Over time, Don gained custody of his youngest son and began being a bigger part of his other children’s and grandchildren’s lives. He’s also starting training to be a coach in the Parenting Inside Out program with Pathfinders, which saved him when he was going through his own recovery at the Coda Gresham Recovery Center.

“I don’t have a college degree, but I have a knowledge that can’t be taught through the school system,” Butler said. “I’m almost 53, and I’ve been through a lot of life and I do see that I have a lot that I can offer to people.”

For his children, Butler tries to pass on the lesson of respect that he learned from his own father, which is something he thinks there’s not enough of today.

“It’s refreshing to me to see other people that show respect, and I believe it’s such a big thing that’s missing today,” Butler said.

“All of my focus has been to get myself back together so I can participate in (my children’s) lives and help them and be there for them and support them and be strong enough to be able to do those things,” Don Butler said. “I wake up happy. I go to bed happy.”

Rip Caswell

sculptorSUBMIT PHOTO - Rip Caswell, a celebrated sculptor, recognized his sons were also talented artists and has helped foster their careers.

Troutdale sculptor Rip Caswell, a father of three, sees his new status as an empty-nester as just another sign that he’s done a good job as a dad.

“I remember when they got their driver’s licenses and their friends became the higher priority and they were gone a lot. I remember wishing that I could have that time back, but I’ve enjoyed every stage of their lives. They’re evolving and changing as people ... I’ve tried just to celebrate that with them and encourage them to explore and discover that in themselves,” Caswell said.

His philosophy as a parent is to lead by example, and seeing as two of his children also are artists, it’s clear he’s accomplished that goal.

His oldest son, Chase, had his own art studio in Troutdale and his middle son, Chad, is also a working artist. His daughter, Malia, 20, is studying business in college and has helped out her father with various art shows.

“The kids have grown up around art their whole lives,” Caswell said. “They kind of grew up in the art gallery, so it’s neat to see them still interested in that and pursuing that in their own way.”

One of his proudest moments as a father was working with his son, Chad, on a sculpture of U.S. Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz that was later installed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

As his children have grown up, Caswell has continued to foster their development with foreign travel and by transitioning from being a father figure to a trusted friend. With Chase, he traveled to Paris and London. With Chad he traveled to Italy, and with Malia he hiked Machu Picchu in Peru.

“(Traveling) is a wonderful way for parents and kids to be able to bond and experience new things together and for the child to understand what a larger world this is and all the possibilities it might have for them,” Caswell said. “It opens up their horizons a little bit bigger.”

Terry Smoke

Troutdale General Store ownerOUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Terry Smoke and his daughter, Cassie, work side by side in the Troutdale General Store.

For Terry Smoke, instilling a good work ethic in his daughter, Cassie, is a double benefit as her father and boss.

Smoke, his wife, Jodi, and Cassie operate the Troutdale General Store together and have had years of practice working as a family in retail.

“She was born, and my wife and I opened an antique mall in Gresham … she grew up in a crib in the antique mall, so she’s pretty much been in retail her whole life, and it’s been great,” Terry said. “It couldn’t be better having your kid there with you and learning the trade.”

The Smokes eventually sold the Gresham antique mall and moved on years later to open the Troutdale General Store.

For a while, Terry and Jodi didn’t know whether their daughter would be joining them back in the business as she went off the college.

“But when she finished (school), she came back to work for us and has been here ever since, and now she’s managing it when we’re not here and taking care of things,” Smoke said, noting, however, that she’s back in school training to be a nurse.

Smoke celebrates Father’s Day by just getting to spend time with his child, something he didn’t get to do a lot of with his own dad, who died from a heart attack at 65 years old.

“I’ve always had to deal with his loss early on, and I use that for my own thoughts about my daughter and spending as much time with her as I can,” Terry said. “I think it’s important for parents to spend as much time as they can with their kids and influence their decisions and choices and help them.”

Though their relationship sometimes is complicated because they work together, Terry said the family makes an effort to deal with work at work and be present with each other when they’re at home.

“You’re always going to have a spat or an argument, and it’s hard. You can’t take that to work with you, and most of the time we work thought it,” Smoke said. “We have learned from it, and it’s made us a tight-knit family. We’re very up on what’s going on in each other’s lives, and I think that’s important.”

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