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Uni Watch Father’s Day 2024: Our Dads in Uniform

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Happy Sunday Morning, and a very Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Pardon my crude attempts at formatting things (my computer doesn’t have…well, a lot of the current software). I managed to cobble together two photos of Phil’s dad and mine from my phone. Harold Hecken and Ted Vilk are seen here in uniform, and both of them are held in very high esteem by their sons. Unfortunately, Harold is not with us anymore. Ted, thankfully, is. I can’t wait to go see him today. About a year and a half ago, things weren’t looking so good for Dad. So much so that he started asking some of the Big Questions About Life. One of his questions was whether or not he was a good father. I texted my sister, who is caring for Dad at her place, and told her, “If he ever wonders whether he’s been a good dad, the fact that I *want* to spend time with him is a pretty good indicator.” I don’t feel as if I *have* to spend time with him. In fact, I wish I could do it more often.

Anyway, today is about celebrating all of our dads, so let’s continue the decade-long tradition that Phil started of sharing our Uni Watch readers’ Dads in Uniform. I will present them to you in the order I received them.


Louis Griffel

This is a photo of my late grandfather, Walter Zakheim, Z”L. Although he was born and lived his entire life in New York City, he never attended a professional sporting event, although I tried. He was not much of a fan, but I do remember him liking Goose Gossage back in 1978. He preferred to watch westerns and WW II movies. This is a picture of him in his army uniform during WW II where he proudly served in Europe and was in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

(JV: I never knew until I received this email that Z”L is an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase Zichrono Livracha [Of Blessed Memory])


Jimmy Corcoran
I always said Dec. 31, 1979, was a sad day for my father: the 70’s, a decade he loved, had finally come to an end. I saw this puzzle and was surprised there is a section that pretty much sums up my father’s life in the ’70s. There is a Corvette convertible; he bought a 74 and 75 one when he joined the Bell. There is Joe Namath; my father was friends with him while he was on the Jets taxi squad. There is the World Football League logo, the last league King Corcoran would ever play in, a Memphis Southmen helmet, the team he threw four TDs against and won WFL player of the week. His favorite basketball player Dr. J (I met the Doc in 1979, my father was mad I didn’t mention him to him), but I didn’t think Dr. J would remember the Philadelphia Bell. And of course, Rocky, his favorite movie tied with The Wild Bunch. In the last NFL game my father suited up in for the Eagles, the LB for the Raiders was Apollo Creed himself, the late great Carl Weathers. The B & W picture is from my family album, he is probably throwing one of his five interceptions against the NY Stars, not a good night in the Corcoran house.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Uni Watch Dads.
Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell
This is my father, Eugene VanderWell, with his parents, on the day he was ordained to the Christian ministry, summer 1953 at the New Baltimore Reformed Church in New Baltimore, New York.
Jeff Wilk
My father was non-existent, so I give you my father-in-law Frank Nolan. Served as a Seabee in the Asian theater and actually was an extra in John Wayne’s “The Fighting Seabees,” in a scene storming a beach with hundreds of others. Married his sweetheart when he came home and helped raise six kids during their 60+ years of marriage (MIL still going strong at 96). Worked a career at Sears as a repairman and the gentleman could do pretty much anything. While short in stature, his heart was second to none.
Tim Dunn
My dad, Dan Dunn (on the right, aged 15) is in this picture, taken in 1945 in Dunn’s Station, Pennsylvania at the family farm. The man wearing the uniform is his cousin Reed Hufford (my first cousin once removed). Reed was a ball turret gunner on the Piccadilly Lily, when it was shot down over Bremerhaven, Germany on 8/10/43. He was one of five survivors. Reed spent the remainder of the war in a German Prison Camp. Reed and Dad were very close their entire lives.
Chris Hickey
My dad, the late John S. Hickey, M.D., volunteered for the Father Judge High School (Phila., PA) football team almost right from the program’s start in the 1950’s.
He didn’t wear a uniform ‘on the job’ but cared for those who suited up in Judge’s Sheridan Red & Columbia Blue…including young Mr. Schlegel (FJHS ‘57)… for over 2 decades.
Dad was a neighborhood family doctor (specialized sports medicine/athletic training had not yet become commonplace) who ran his office out of our rowhome’s basement in Mayfair. Above, he and his wife Dorothea raised 11 children – 6 boys, 5 girls, 1 full bathroom!
He passed away in 1984…my mom was reunited with him this past April. Thank you so much for continuing this great tradition that Phil started & for letting me celebrate and share my dad with everyone here at Uni Watch today. Happy Fathers Day!
Mike Mctiernan
Here is a photo of Patrick J. Morris. He was the first of my ancestors to come to this country (from Ireland – all my ancestors were from Ireland). This photo shows him proudly wearing his New York fireman uniform from the 1800’s.
Rob Gugliotta
My late father, Robert Gugliotta, played the bass drum for 50+ years in the Colonial Boys fife and drum corps based out of Norwood, MA. Here’s a photo of him from the early 1970’s in his marching uniform.
Greg Farrar
A photo of my father Gordon Farrar who was a track athlete at Washington State College. While at WSC (now Washington State University) dad tied the school record in the High Jump at 6’4” and then won the 1952 Pacific Coast Conference (until recently the PAC 12) Championship in the Long Jump with a jump of 24’ 4”. This distance was the second longest jump by a college athlete that season and earned dad an invitation to the 1952 Olympic Trials. Not bad for a 5’8” 135 pound kid from Bremerton, WA!
Jimmy Parker
Here is my grandfather, Lonnie Parker, in his #25 Ford after winning a Nascar-sanctioned race in South Carolina in the early 1950s.
Tim Powitz
This is my grandfather Terry William Bowers, or “Pap Pap” as he was most affectionately called. I’m confident he lied about his age so he could enlist early for WW2, though he looks 14 in this picture. My mom has his Purple Heart. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 about a week after I turned 5, and I completely idolized him. I often think how different I might have been had he lived longer. I’d be an avid hunter, a motorcycle rider, and know my way around an engine, all things about which I am unknowledgeable.
Leo Strawn, Jr.
UWers have already seen this, but I thought I’d send you the original photo of my dad, Leo Strawn, in his high school football uniform when he played for the Lancaster (OH) Golden Gales in 1957. In an odd ‘brush with greatness,’ John McVay was one of his coaches. John went on to coach the WFL Memphis Southmen/Grizzlies and NFL NY Giants and worked in the front office of the Niners during their heyday. John’s grandson, Sean, is head coach of the LA Rams. I’ve always loved this photo of Dad in his awesome ‘old school’ uniform!
(JV: I’d wear that!)
Jim Wooley
My father, Garnet Wooley, worked as a miner for 37 years, working for Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting in Northern Manitoba, Canada. This photo was taken later on in his career (probably early ’80s). The mining “uniform” has changed a lot since then!
Steven Dilger
My wonderful dad, Stuart “Gib” Dilger, who loved baseball so much. This was for his school team in Connecticut.
Greg Mays
My dad, Glenn Mays, played for Wood River High School before going on to Hastings College where he was the first Nebraska college player to score 2,000 points in a career. Here he is wearing #54 as a senior and accepting the LouPlatte Conference championship trophy.
Jim Vilk
This is my cousin Dave Marva, who was born three days after me. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone three years now. Since he died during COVID, we didn’t get to go to the funeral so it still doesn’t seem real. Here he is as a senior tackle for German Township High School in Pennsylvania (the same school my dad attended). Dave is missed by Cathy and his two sons, Jonah and Maxson, and by many more people. Hopefully they’ll have good memories of him on Father’s Day.
(JV: Not only would I wear that, my next big DIY project is to make a replica Dave Marva jersey)
That wraps up this year’s edition of Dads in Uniform. Thanks to everyone who contributed! I love reading the stories, and I hope you did too.

And Finally...


Two weeks ago, when we celebrated Middle Child’s high school graduation, we went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. This was the fortune from my fortune cookie. I showed it to The Boy and said, “You should have gotten this one.” Turns out he did, because he opened his cookie to find the same message. It seemed appropriate to share it today. If you’re lucky enough to still have your dad on this earth, a visit or a phone call is well worth your time. Even if you don’t get along, give it another try.

Hmmm…I wonder if the Cleveland Guardians planted these cookies as a way to subliminally suggest taking your parents to see a ballgame? Anyway, I hope all of you have a wonderful Father’s Day. Phil’s back tomorrow, so take care, and I’ll see you next weekend!



Comments (0)

    Happy Father’s Day everyone.

    Thanks for continuing the tradition, Jimmer!

    I always really enjoy reading through these every year. Thanks for continuing on.

    Hmm, I submitted a photo of my father on 6/11, but it didn’t make the cut. Maybe he ended up in the spam folder.

    OK, I just found the problem – the email link I used from the June 10th post didn’t have the “j” highlighted, so the pic was sent to “”, which I’m guessing doesn’t exist. I wonder if anyone else had the same problem.


    Re-send them and you’ll be first on the list for next time.
    Just got home a little bit ago, so I didn’t see this until recently.

    Those photos are so wonderful every year. I lost my dad on December 30, 1980 so I have lived twice as long without him as I did with him. Hard to believe.

    My Mother just informed me she thought my father’s favorite movie was It’s a Mad Mad Mad World. She went to see it with him when it came out while he was at Maryland, she said he laughed so hard he fell out of his seat and rolled a few feet down the aisle while people wondered what the heck is wrong with this guy. He always loved an audience. Happy Father’s Day and thank you to everyone who let us hear your stories today, so many great Dad’s.

    Terrific tributes today…from ministers and military men to ball players and a percussionist – plus a fireman and miner. Nice!
    Being a Philly guy, seeing Mr. Corcoran wearing the city’s colors the Bell went with is as much of a treat as reading Jimmy’s paragraph.
    Being a former track and fielder, the photo Mr. Farrar in-flight is incredible – as are his career highlights.
    Being a stock car fan, the inclusion of Mr. Parker taking home the checkers (and the ‘Sunday’ money) is a great sight. How I miss door numbers in Cup…sigh.
    Like Mr. Nolan, my dad was also a Seebee in the Pacific during WWII – and I liked learning that he also had a large family to provide for and chose a career which continued his service to others. Thank you Jeff.
    Hats off to Phil and Jim…and of course their pops…and happy Father’s Day, Uni Watchers!

    I always forget to participate in this, but I’ll at least mention something about my dad. He played hockey and football in high school, he was #68 on his football team. As a kid from Pittsburgh who grew up idolizing Jaromir Jagr, I always thought it was cool that my dad wore his number.

    Spectacular job today, Jim! Thanks for putting this together! Always one of my favorite days on the Uni Watch calendar. And wonderful tributes, everyone! Happy Father’s Day!

    Always a highlight post for me every year. Thank you to all who submit and share their stories.

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