By Cheryl Conway
Ironic that the saying ‘ladies first’ holds true when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day in May and then Father’s Day in June.
Well move over moms, as the time to celebrate dads is now here with national Father’s Day set for Sunday, June 17. Whether grills are firing up for family barbecues, reservations are being set at favorite restaurants, a lazy nap awaits under a tree, or golf clubs are getting packed in the trunk for a day on the green‑ dads of Mt. Olive are looking forward to their day to relax and enjoy.
According to history, Father’s Day in the United States was first celebrated in Washington State on June 19, 1910, when Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea of honoring and celebrating her father while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909. Her dad, William Smart, a veteran of the Civil War, raised six children by himself on his small farm after his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. To show her appreciation for all of his hard work and love, Dodd thought there should be a day to pay homage to him and other dads like him. She initially suggested June 5, the anniversary of her father’s death to be the designated day to celebrate Father’s Day, but the date was deferred to the third Sunday in June.
Another story of the origin of Father’s Day occurred on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, W. Va., when Grace Golden Clayton suggested to a local Methodist church minister that services be held to celebrate fathers after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men.
While Father’s Day was celebrated locally in several communities across the country, baby steps were taken before it became an official holiday.
President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge recommended in 1924 that Father’s Day become a national holiday, but no action was taken. Years later, in 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson made an executive order that designated the third Sunday in June as the official day to celebrate Father’s Day; but it wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.
As far as other countries, Father’s Day is also celebrated but on various dates throughout the year.
In Mt. Olive, June 17, is the day when dads in Flanders and Budd Lake look forward to spending time with their families and even their own fathers.
Father of six takes pride in his role.
By the time Father’s Day rolls around soccer season is usually over so dads often don’t find themselves on the soccer field watching their kids play, unlike Mother’s Day which is the common place to be for soccer moms. But for Todd Conway of Flanders, father of six children who all play soccer, there is nothing he enjoys more.
Conway, 50, looks forward to his annual Father’s Day Cup on his front lawn every Father’s Day since his kids were little.
“It’s an annual soccer tournament that I have with my six children that was started with my boys,” says Conway. “It went from a 2v2 to a 3v3 tournament with one sub. We make a Father’s Day Cup out of cereal boxes. We make it into a World Cup but we call it a Father’s Day Cup and we paint it and then the winner takes the cup.
“It kind of defines who I am as a dad,” says Conway. “I’m a sports fanatic and coached my kids when they started to walk, introducing sports into their lives; soccer first then basketball,” for a total of 12 years as a volunteer coach for both sports.
He recalls his favorite Father’s Day: “The one year we finally beat Jonah and Griffin in the Father’s Day Cup; we lost every year.” Conway would team up with his third son, Skylar, and they would play against his two oldest sons Griffin and Jonah every year.
With five boys and one girl, ages 21 to 11, competition is the norm in the Conway household.
Besides his traditional game, Conway hopes to visit his dad in Maryland the day before “to spend quality time with him given that his health is not well; it’s a terminal illness.”
On Father’s Day, he plans to either go out to dinner with his family or barbecue for everyone, which he does not mind.
As a father of six, Conway pitches in with all tasks – such as laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, taking the kids to practices and games, discipline, helping with homework, yard work, cleaning, house repairs and paying the bills.
“I share 50 percent of the responsibilities with my wife, my spouse,” he says. “I want to; it defines who I am, a provider, a father, a husband.” Being the youngest out of seven growing up, with five sisters, Conway was guided early on how to perform all those house chores. He does admit that his success would not possible without his wife, Cheryl, by his side.
University of Maryland college sweethearts since 1989, the two just celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary.
“What helps in my success? My wife,” says Conway, “being able to help in the responsibilities of everything we have to do. I would not be able to juggle it all without my spouse. She is an amazing mother and makes my job as a father that much easier and enjoyable.”
They work as partners and share in each other’s roles.
“The trick is being proficient in multi-tasking, being very segmented down to the minute, whether its grocery shopping and knowing Shoprite closes at 7 p.m. on Sundays after all the soccer games have been played by 6:10 p.m., knowing I will take 40 minutes to shop.”
While his role keeps him busy most of the time, Conway likes being a dad.
“I enjoy the thought of being needed every day and helping my children,” says Conway.
While he cherishes many favorite memories as a dad, one of his fondest moments was “moving my son into his first dorm which happened to be my dorm at the University of Maryland. That’s when I realized I was a father.”
Another favorite moment was “welcoming my daughter into this world- my wife giving birth to my only girl because we tried having a girl and we kept having boys.” Molly falls right in the middle with three older brothers and two younger brothers.
Conway will always remember the time in 2004, “driving my kids to North Carolina to the ACC Tournament with no tickets on a last minute decision to see our alma-mater play in the finals against Duke, then getting on TV for the pregame while we were walking through the coliseum.” He had four kids at the time and his wife, who was pregnant with number five, joined in the basketball game adventure.
Besides traveling far away to sporting events, Conway enjoys eating out at his favorite restaurants with his family; taking them to Ravens football games; going on rides at the amusement parks; family vacation at Wildwood since his oldest was a baby; and even hanging at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake.
“We spent so much time there as a family,” Conway says about the local park. “It has so many activities you can do there- run, walk, play sports, ride bikes.”
He has lived in Flanders for 25 years, a place he has learned to call home since moving from his native Maryland to take a job in N.J. right out of college. It was fate that he landed a job in the same state as his college sweetheart/future wife.
With his job he relocated twice out of state, to Pennsylvania and then Maryland, but he eventually made his way back to Mt. Olive.
“I chose Mt Olive so that my wife and I could be close to my in-laws who live in Roxbury Twp. as they have helped us in raising our children,” explains Conway. “I truly am grateful for all of their help and love over the many years.”
Making some good friends along the way helped.
“Greg Jones brought me to Mt. Olive,” he says. “I remember meeting Greg during our visit to viewing the home construction at Flanders Crossing; right after I met Greg and Jan after their home selections, my wife and I decided to buy our first home in Mt. Olive. It’s funny, in 2000, we sold our home in Flanders Crossing due to relocation, company move back to my home state of Maryland. Not realizing, where my true home was, I had missed Mt. Olive, N.J. We were only in our Annapolis home for six months and I made the choice to come back to Mt. Olive because I missed it that much. Greg and Jan have not missed any of our kids bat/bar mitzvahs in the 25 years of knowing them.”
He has enjoyed “the people, the connections you’ve made over the time you live here, it goes with the kids- as your kids get older your friends change with your children.”
He also commends the schools.
“The facilities are amazing, amphitheater, the bubble, the turf field, the music studio, the club sports,” he says. It even has its fair share of diversity, he adds.
Conway shares some advice to new dads or those expecting.
“Don’t pass up the moment to take part in your child’s life from the time they are born until they leave for college,” Conway says, “the time moves pretty fast; whether it’s coaching, mentoring, home projects or participating in clubs or activities together.”
His third child graduates high school this month, so he will have three in college and three still at home.
Despite his busy job as a systems engineer in the information technology field, Conway made some time over the years to get involved as a volunteer coach with the Mt. Olive Soccer Club and travel basketball, before forming his own AAU team for boys basketball.
While his volunteering has slowed down, he says he tries to give back to the community by shopping local.
“I support the businesses with gas, stores, car repairs, clothing and kids working locally.”
One positive quality that helps in the success of a father is “the willingness to compromise with your children because they are all very different; and to listen to them.”
He says “I try to model my family around my best friend’s parents; I wanted to emulate that- The Wisemans. I watched how they raised their family, their three boys.
“I am mildly strict,” he says in disciplining his kids, teaching them about “having good manners, being respectful, being polite, being very serious about your education. School-work came before playing.”
His goals as a dad are “to be out of credit card debt” and “to ensure my children reach their maximum goals.” To do that, he says, he needs “to always be there for them no matter what.”
Conway concludes, “Being a father is one thing I know I will not screw up. It’s just something I take pride in doing every day.”
Biological, adopted, foster and exchange- local man expands his role as father.
Jody Lee Fulton, 40, who lives in the Hackettstown section of Mt. Olive, currently has five kids under his care: Two are biological, one is adopted; one is a foster child; and another is an exchange student.
Fulton became a father in 1997 at the age of 19, when his daughter, Shyla was born. Two years later his son, Garrett was born. Shyla, 20, attends County College of Morris in Randolph and Garrett, 18, is a senior at Mt. Olive High School.
Their adopted son, Mason, is 5 and he attends Mt. Olive Child Care & Learning Center in Budd Lake in Flanders. They also currently are caring for a 15-year old foster child, Krys; and a 14-year old exchange student named Edison who also attends MOHS.
“He is from China,” explains Fulton. “This is the first year MOHS is hosting exchange students, so with my son being a senior, we decided to give it a try. I lived in Korea for a year while I was in the Air Force, and my wife and I have always thought it a good idea to expose our children to as many different cultures and experiences as possible.
“He has been here since last August, and he will be leaving the end of June,” he says. “It is a one year program.”
Some may question how the Fultons manage as many as they do and why they chose to take in other children.
“Good question especially since we are not from the area, and we do not have family within 250 miles to help,” says Fulton. “You just commit and stick with it. I often hear people with one child or a spouse who do not work say they have no time for things. People don’t realize how much time there is in a day. It just depends on how you choose to spend the time you have.
“We could have been empty nesters at 40 years old, and had all the time to ourselves,” he adds. “What good is that though? Someone once told me ‘You can’t help everyone, but you can help those who you come in contact with.’ That has stuck with me.”
The Fultons have been foster parents since 2013, taking in seven children the past five years: “Two for 19 months; two for 12 months; three for a long weekend. One we adopted Jan. 2017. One has been with us for several months.”
Becoming foster parents was his wife’s idea.
“My wife has always wanted to do foster care,” says Fulton. “I can’t take credit for starting foster care. We share all of the responsibilities but it was definitely her desire.”
His advice to those wanting to foster a child: “Do your research and understand what you are getting into. A child is not an animal you get at the pound and give back when times get hard. I don’t know how else to put that, but it is very challenging at times, and you must be prepared. It can also be very rewarding to help a child who needs someone in their life.”
With Father’s Day approaching, Fulton looks forward to his usual hiking or walking.
“That is what I enjoy doing so that sounds good for this year,” he says.
One of his favorite Father’s Days was “about five years ago my kids made a picture collage of some of the times we have spent together. It was special because they got together and made it on their own. Still sits on my desk at work.”
As a father, Fulton says he appreciates “The challenge, the adventure. Being able to look at your kids and realize that they have turned out to be amazing, caring, and special adults.”
His kids have been his best friends.
As a family, he says they have been “growing up together in different places. I was active Air Force for 10 years. We moved into nine different houses and four different states together. They have been like our best friends since we never had time to make great, long-lasting friendships.”
Their favorite past-times have been “Spending time outside, whether it is taking day hikes, playing ball, doing yard work, or just watching the birds. Nature and creation hold tons of valuable lessons.
The park is always a hit.
“When we first moved to Mt. Olive we lived across the street from Turkey Brook,” he says. “The park helped us to enjoy Mt. Olive to the fullest. It is a great, safe place for the entire family. The town in general has a safe and accommodating feel to it.”
Although he is a busy dad who also supports his family as a machinist for the past 22 years for the Air Force, private sector, Navy as a civilian, and for the Army as a civilian for the past 9 years, Fulton helps out as much as he can at home and continues to learn.
“We have always picked tasks that we enjoy or at least don’t mind as much as others,” he says. “For example my wife does laundry because she likes it to be done a particular way. I like cooking so I do a large portion of cooking and the dishes. I have always done yard work and I try to involve the kids as much as possible.”
Outside the home, they continue to improve their parenting skills.
“For the past couple of months my wife and I have been attending a parenting class at MOCC,” he says. “Yes at 40 years old and after having nine children under my care at one time or another. As I said you can never learn too much. We have gained a great amount of knowledge from attending these meetings, and it is a great time for moms and dads to spend time together. They offer free dinner and child care during this 11 week course.”
Some of the strategies he uses and qualities he tries to uphold as a parent has been effective.
“Patience of course,” is one characteristic. “Being a bit of a kid yourself never hurts, just as long as you know when to be the adult. You have to have good morals, ethics, or whatever one chooses to call it. Kids are watching your every move, and nothing steers them wrong more than a hypocritical action.
He says it’s also important to “respect your spouse, show respect for all nationalities, races, etc. Show your children that even though you are the parent, you too respect their thoughts and feelings. If possible continue education or any other type of learning. Show your kids the desire to learn and they will enjoy learning as well.”
He offers advice to other dads: “Having kids is a lifelong commitment, and the most important thing you will ever do. Each stage is a new journey, and each child is unique. You can never learn too much so seek sound advice from people who make wise decisions. Most of all, make sure your kids know you love and respect their mother, and that you love and respect them.”
As he continues in his goals as a father, Fulton says: “I think I started off with the same ambitious that many do; that they do great in school and in sports. That they continue their education and be successful. As they got older the main things were that they were kind, trustworthy, and that they were confident. I have found that if they hold these types of values the other things will follow.”
Single dad, entrepreneur, enjoys one on one time with his son.
Owning his own business and working 100 hours a week does not stop Ricky Rodriguez of Budd Lake from spending quality time with his 15 year old son Alec.
“I always go home to have dinner with him,” says Rodriguez, owner of Sweet Dreamzzz Bedding and Furniture in Budd Lake who has lived in town since 2009. “I sit down with him, talk about his day then I come back.”
He uses his slow cooker at home, closes the store between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., puts a note on the door announcing to customers that he is going home “to bring my son food;” and closes to take him to football practice. “I never miss a game no matter where it’s at. If I have to close the store, I close the store.”
Rodriquez says “people say ‘how do you spend time with your son?’”
As a single father, Rodriguez was married for seven years before his divorce in 2010. While being a single parent can sometimes have its challenges, Rodriguez seems to handle his role in stride.
“After a while it becomes a habit,” says Rodriguez, who’s been a dad since 2003. “It becomes a norm.
“You do it every day, after a while it’s a part of your life. You don’t think about it anymore.”
He does not use a babysitter and takes on all the chores, including the cleaning.
“I say my house is spotless,” he says. As the owner of a furniture store, “it’s sharp.”
“I do the laundry, food shopping,” he says. Being single is tough at times though, he admits, especially now that his son is getting older and spending more time with his friends.
While his work hours are demanding, Rodriguez hopes to take part of the day off on Father’s Day to spend with his son.
“I have my own business, I have to work unfortunately. I gotta do what I gotta do. Maybe I’ll go home and grill some nice steaks or go to a friend’s house. Whatever I’m doing I hope I’m relaxing. Maybe throw a football around with my son,” as Alec plays the offensive and defensive line for the Mt. Olive High School boys’ football team.
His favorite Father’s Days from years’ past are “the ones with beautiful blue skies, no rain; get to relax and listen to music, hanging out with friends and family.”
In raising him, Rodriguez looks at how he was raised by his parents.
“What helps is how I got raised well-mannered around friend and family,” says Rodriguez, “I go to church on Sundays. I have my own business in town. I’m well rounded.”
Being mild mannered helps: “I’m not a person who freaks out,” says Rodriguez. “I’m really down to earth. The only thing I complained about this year was it was a long winter. There’s going to be times you make mistakes; as long as we’re trying our best that’s all we can ask for.”
Rodriguez says his son’s maturity and willingness to help out has also been in his favor.
“A lot of parents or teachers say for a 15 year old, he’s pretty mature,” he says. “What helps me out…he’s like my best roommate; he keeps his bedroom clean, his bathroom clean. I don’t have to tell him to take out the garbage; he just does it. He’s an A/B student.
“When it was just me and him, I told him it’s our place. You live here, I live here. We have to give the house love; we have to take care of it.
“Watching him put his name on the lawn when he cuts it,” Rodriguez does not mind, “as long as he cuts it, it’s good with me.”
His joy is being a dad.
“I enjoy looking at my son and seeing the facial expressions I make or thinking like I do,” says Rodriguez. “I enjoy watching him grow; watching him have a good time. I live through his eyes.
Some of their favorite past-times include playing one-on-one basketball, playing chess, going to Giants games, watching movies together, working around the house and cooking.
“I like to cook; I’m teaching him how to cook.”
Rodriguez misses his son’s younger years the most, when “I brought him with me everywhere.” He is often reminded of these times when his customers bring in their kids, ages two to five and “they run around the store. I miss him at that age.” He would “always ask a ton of questions, why this, why that” and “I was allowed to hug him and kiss him; now it’s dad ‘someone’s looking.’ I kind of miss that; they grow up so fast.”
Rodriguez offers his advice to new dads: “Cherish every moment; they grow up too fast; listen to what they say; have time for them. Go in with an open mind. Let them grow to be their own person; encourage them that they can do better; reward them when they do well but yet be a father.”
He has come to realize what it takes to be a good father: “Once you have a kid, you go from being a boy to being a man, to being a good father. You need to be a man; you have to put all your heart and effort to be a good dad.”
He says key characteristics are for dads to be “open minded; understanding your child’s personalities; they are going to have half of yours, half of their mothers’ personality. Be compassionate; you want the best for them. Treat them like an adult. He’s 15; when he was 11 years old, I told him ‘don’t act like you’re 10, don’t act like you’re 12, act like you’re 11. Don’t act like you are younger or older.”
Outside his role as a dad, Rodriguez is busy running his business.
“I’m a one man show,” he says. “I’m taking baby steps; I’m doing well, I’m growing.” Selling furniture since 1993, his store Sweet Dreamzzz used to be located at the strip mall on Rt. 46 next to Das’ Creamery, where it was for five years; but tripled its space when it moved across the street in the space where the Trading Post was located.
“I sell everything,” says Rodriguez, when it comes to furniture and bedding, “but the difference is, my grandfather, when I first opened the store, said ‘it’s a lot easier to make a quick nickel than a slow dollar.’ Keep my prices low so people will come.”
He hopes to get involved in more groups around town, such as the softball or bowling leagues but “not until the store is running itself and I can hire more people.”
From Rockaway, Rodriquez is happy about his choice to live and work in Mt. Olive.
“Mt. Olive reminds me of what Rockaway used to be, the parks, Turkey Brook, the neighborhood, the way his friends are well mannered,” he says.
Rodriguez is also “thankful for the people in Mt. Olive; 95 percent [of his customers] is all Mt. Olive, Budd Lake, Flanders.”
He tries to give back through tricky trays and the baseball program through the school when the kids ask for donations, but other than that he says “I can’t give back yet because I’m still trying to grow. I took over a very old building; it needs a lot of love.”
His goals as a dad continue: “To make sure he grows up to be a loving, hardworking man; to make sure he goes to college and he’s more successful than me; to have that loving wife and have kids; to have grandkids ages two to five running around.”
Local father enjoys spending time with five grandkids.
“We have a barbecue if weather permitting,” says Koptyra. “We do the cooking and my wife helps out. I start it and she ends up doing everything else.”
His 40 year old son David of Budd Lake should be there with his wife, their two sons and one daughter; as well as his other son, Anthony, 37 of Garfield, wife, daughter and son.
Going on 41 years of marriage, Koptyra met his wife Michelle when they both worked at a bakery in Garfield where they grew up. They have lived in Budd Lake for 14 years.
Having grandchildren nearby is a bonus as Koptyra gets to go to their events such as hockey games as one plays for the Colonials club hockey team.
“I like watching him play,” says Koptyra, who says he tries to go to his games “all the time. It’s interesting.” He has traveled to South Dakota to see him play and this year will go to Lincoln, Neb.
“I get to see them all the time which is good,” he says.
When his kids were younger, Koptyra worked as a police officer so “I didn’t get to go” see his sons play. He likes to also see Anthony’s kids play in their basketball games.
“The enjoyment of watching your kids grow up; one son became a cop like I did; one son has his own business and is doing well on his own.”
He says his fondest moments are that both his boys graduated college and went on to being successful. Anthony works as a police sergeant in Garfield and David owns and operates two businesses: Party planning and camera installation.
He appreciates that they are “family oriented; they go on vacation and participate in their kids’ activities.”
As a father, Koptyra enjoys “helping my sons by giving them advice when things get tough.” When raising his kids he says he tried “to enforce them to be friendly and be competitive; old values, I try to teach them. Things don’t come easy; you got to work for it.”
The same goes with his grandkids as he makes sure they “are always polite to people; that they say ‘thank-you;’ that they hold the door for people; and respect your elders.”
His advice for fathers is that “family comes first. Spend as much time with family and guide them through. Always be there for them. That’s just your job as a father to guide them through. Just be there; be a father.”
Also important is to “help them with schooling; make sure they’re doing good at school.”
“I would take the kids wherever they needed to go,” he says, for Anthony that was to baseball and football; for David, it was fishing and computers. “I’d take them if she couldn’t take them wherever they had to go.” He and his wife “share responsibilities.”
When he is not attending their sporting events, Koptyra enjoys playing golf with one grandson, barbecuing and going out to dinner with the family “and we take a family vacation in the summer with everybody.”
Outside of that, he was a volunteer fireman years ago in Garfield, and served on the planning board for three years in Mt. Olive Twp., an area he is happy to have moved to.
He complimented the recreation department: “They run a lot of family events for the town; they have a lot of nice fields and do a lot of nice things for the community.
“I think that mayor is awesome,” he adds. He is “always looking out for Mt. Olive.”
First year grandfather looks forward to quality time.
For Father’s Day, his plan is: “To get all the kids around you to spend quality time always. There’s no better gift then spending time with you.” He says they “may try to go out, but it’s more about spending time” together. “Normally Father’s Day is a quiet time for us. “It’s just quality time.”
Married for 35 years to Beena Mohankumar, who he met in his hometown in India, Purushothaman became a father in 1984 when his first daughter, Aditi, was born. Two years later, in 1986, his second daughter, Arundhati, came into this world.
“We have a fun group here now,” says Purushothaman, as both girls currently live with him while looking to settle into their own houses.
Now that his girls are older Purushothaman gets to see the success of his parenting ways.
“The way we brought them up, they’ve been great kids for us,” says Purushothaman. “We never had two sets of rules. You set an example for them and you hope they follow you. They do what you do; you set a good example.”
The girls “always had the freedom to choose,” he says. They “always had an intelligent discussion at home. We never forced anything upon them. Both kids are doing well in their careers.” Aditi works as a surgeon specializing in head and neck surgery; and Arundhati works as an attorney for the state of N.J.
Purushothaman enjoys having his family close.
“One of the most enjoyable things is having a small child at home seeing them grow up,” he says. “She is a very active girl, keeps us entertained; that’s a big joy for us.”
As family, they “continue to do a lot of things together. When we go on vacation we go together, which is surprising.” They also enjoy cooking and gardening as a family.
“I’ve always been fond of cooking since I was a teenager,” says Purushothaman. When “I’m home, time to relax, I start cooking.” His specialty is Indian cuisine, while his daughter is “more into baking.”
One of his favorite memories is when they came to the United States in 1992. His girls were six and eight years old, and when they started school here, “They learned faster.”
When they first came to the U.S., they lived in Boston for one year, then Baltimore, Philadelphia and finally N.J.
He is happy they settled in Mt. Olive.
“Overall the place has been great, law and order,” he says. “Overall it’s a great place, neighborhood’s been wonderful; always a nice, great place; coming here you feel at home. This part of N.J. has been great for us.”
As advice to other parents, Purushothaman says “to me it’s all about giving the right kind of environment for the kids; setting an example for them, how we deal with life; giving them the choice base and encouraging them. They always had the freedom to do what they want to do.
“Set an example for the kids,” he says.
Also have good character.
“Everything comes down to character,” says Purushothaman. “It defines everything you do. You try to be a better person every day. Hard work: especially as immigrants. We come here, start from scratch; children see it and they learn it.”
He brought some strategies to guide him along the way: “Where we come from, respect anyone older than you, in family or outside, to show a lot of respect to elders or teachers.”
Also, “being truthful and honest of what they are about,” is important.
As a CEO of a diagnostic company, Purushothaman says his “workload is so much,” at times, but he does make time to do his part to help around the house, whether it’s cooking, grocery shopping, yard work or looking after his granddaughter.
“Everybody’s kind of pitching in,” says Purushothaman. “I do my bit.”
His goals are to “complete some of the things I started. It’s more about building something so we don’t become a burden on the children.”
A father-son bond stays strong.
When it comes to father/son relations, Joe Sacco of Budd Lake knows how to stay connected. He has worked with his father “his entire life” and hopes to carry on that love and respect with his two sons.
Sacco, 32, became a dad in 2012.
“I want them to look up to me,” says Sacco about his boys ages six and four. “I want them to respect me forever; everything else will be gravy really.”
Sacco has a great deal of admiration for his own father, also Joe Sacco, of Long Valley, owner/president of Central Medical Supply in Flanders for about 20 years.
As vice president of business development for the company, the younger Sacco would not have it any other way.
“It’s great, I love it,” about his relationship with his father. “I enjoy working with my dad. He’s not the type of person to look over your shoulder, breathe down your neck. We have a good working relationship. My dad’s always been there for us.”
He says they are “building a pretty nice business” by distributing medical care equipment. The one store has grown to five warehouses and 100 employees.
“It’s been a lot of fun but challenging,” he says about his work. “You get out what you put in. The harder you work the better you do. We roll up our sleeves and get to work. No one tells us what to do.”
He grew up in his father’s business and started helping out when he was a kid. He then went on to get a degree in business administration- studying his dad’s company and using the information for his marketing and accounting projects- while going to school.
“It’s been my whole life,” he says. “I always wanted to do what he did. I just love being in business for ourselves. He had something established that I could help grow.”
Not sure yet of his plans for Father’s Day, Sacco says he may go see his dad.
“Whatever we feel like doing that day; we will see how it goes. I like to spend it relaxing or golfing or enjoy some sun” with his kids and wife, Jill.
Married for seven years, Sacco met Jill in the eighth grade as they both grew up in Long Valley.
“I used to play softball Sunday morning and have kids there, and my wife there, and all the guys there and their kids.” Once the kids started to get bigger, those plans changed and he “now plays golfs.” Them watching him play turned into him watching them play soccer, and now t-ball, lacrosse and Ninja class.
He says they “are very active little boys.”
He also coaches the lacrosse kindergarten team for boys and girls and his wife coaches t-ball.
He credits his success as a dad to “exercise and prayer,” and help from his wife.
“My wife is tremendous help absolutely; has a great nanny who means the world to us; she helps out tremendously,” as his wife works full time for Microsoft.
When it comes to pitching in around the house, Sacco does his share in regards to helping the kids with homework and chores.
“I help clean up, dishes, cook,” says Sacco. “I’ll watch them as my wife has decent amount of travel and hard work. I gave up sitting on the couch and watching TV a long time ago.
“We do baths every night, we feed them, brush their teeth. We do everything for those kids. I cut the grass. I’m building the patio.”
Outside all that, “We do our best to spend our time with the kids,” says Sacco.
Spending time with his two boys has been most enjoyable.
“I really enjoy everything about it,” says Sacco in his role as a dad. There has been “good one on one time just the three of us, me and my two sons,” such as “cruising in the car” or “having breakfast,” playing video games, building Legos or “playing sports has been great.
“We work, we clean, we build things, we do everything together.”
For their favorite past-times, he says, “We love to swim, play golf, play sports, play video games. We love vacations; we love to ski and snowboard.
“We have had a blast; looking forward for more to come,” he says.
His advice for other dads: “Don’t have any expectations,” says Sacco. “You have to be very open minded and be willing to adapt to the current situation.”
As a dad, “I try to understand a lot,” he says. “I try very hard to connect with my son and lead by example. I try very hard to be the type of person I want them to be.”
As residents of Budd Lake for the past seven years, Sacco says they are happy to have moved close by their hometown of Long Valley.
“I like being a local,” says Sacco. “I’ve been there a long time; we know people in town. Everyone we’ve met has been really cool. Everyone I’ve met have been hard working people. It’s been a good experience for us.”