Father’s Day is celebrated worldwide to recognize the contributions fathers and father-figures make in the lives of their children.
At East Ridge, a life plan community in Cutler Bay, residents have rich memories of their fathers and their influence on their lives and their children.
As an only child, Bob Schomber remembers how determined his father was in developing both himself and his son. Bob grew up in a loving, hard working, third generation German immigrant family. When his dad was a young man, his father, who was employed as a fireman, broke his leg and Bob’s dad, being the eldest in a family of 6, had to quit school to work to support the family, since there was no workmen’s compensation in those times.
Bob’s father became a fireman also, and the family encouraged Bob to think about college, but didn’t believe they could afford the college expenses without a scholarship. To provide added income, his dad took a second job cleaning a warehouse and office building on Saturdays. While Bob was too young to be paid working with his dad, the two would start at 6:00 a. m. together polishing floors and emptying trash cans, so they had the afternoons for free time together.
Bob was mechanically inclined and his dad encouraged him to attend a vocational high school to ensure a good job if he didn’t go to college, and also to work nights in a local machine shop during high school to help save for his college. Fortunately, Bob got a scholarship that reduced tuition expenses, and a resident advisor job that provided free room and board. His dad then returned to school to earn his GED. Both completed their educational goals about the same time and Bob recalls a jubilant neighborhood party to celebrate their accomplishments. Bob went on to get a Teaching Assistantship and Masters Degree at Syracuse University. Having the GED high school certificate permitted Bob’s dad to successfully apply for officer positions in the Mount Vernon Fire Department, a city about the size of Hialeah, resulting in his achieving the rank of Deputy Chief.
Bob’s East Ridge neighbor, Gary Sisler, said his father convinced him never to steal when he was around six years old. His dad managed an apple orchard and one weekend, Gary visited the boss’ office with his dad. He was so fascinated with the boss’ scientific instruments that he stuffed a few in a bag without his dad’s knowledge. The pilfered items were hidden behind the living room sofa but were discovered by his dad. Though Gary anticipated a spanking, his dad took an approach to discipline that impacted Gary for life. He had to return what he had stolen and apologize in person for his wrong-doing.
As a father of two teenage daughters, Gary’s advice was to pursue a career choice that would spark passion. One daughter’s passion was dance and she pursued a dancing career, but his daughter, Tanya, was having a more difficult time. When she completed her fourth year of college without declaring a major, Gary told her he would only pay for one more year of her education.
While she was on a summer archaeological dig in the Middle East, Gary obtained a list of all the majors offered at the college. When they sat down to talk about her future, he was well prepared. He asked her about her summer experience and she said it was the greatest she had ever had. He pulled out the list of the college’s majors and asked her to read about Human Geography.
“Tanya, you have one year to show your stuff,” he recalls saying. “My advice is to go to the head of the Geography Department and ask for his recommendation of the best courses – not the easiest but the best.”
The result? Tanya received straight A’s, joined the Peace Corps and assisted refugees in Mali, South Africa, Macau, Timor, Jordan and Yugoslavia. Gary admits it took longer for “my fly to sit on the water, but when she found her passion, she bit hard.”
This year, Father’s Day may have a different twist than typical celebrations amid the corona pandemic, but the importance of fathers and their impact cannot be diminished.
About East Ridge
East Ridge at Cutler Bay is Miami-Dade County’s only true life care retirement community. The not-for-profit community draws from the neighborhood charm of suburban Cutler Bay and the vibrancy of Miami in a lush tropical setting of 76 acres, located at 19301 S.W. 87th Avenue. The community offers a continuum of care including independent and assisted living apartment homes in a neighborhood setting, respite and skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation services available within Three Palms Health Center. For more information or to schedule a tour, please call (305) 256-3564 visit www.EastRidgeAtCutlerBay.com.