Honoring Whippany, Hanover, East Hanover, and Florham Park Dads on Father’s Day

By Steve Sears

Fatherhood is about many things, and a key component is reflection.

Whippany’s Fred Kingston reflects. Boy, does he reflect.

“The hardest thing for me was I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer in 2011 at 38 and the kids were both in Elementary School,” Kingston vividly recalls.  “All I could think about was not being here to watch my children grow. I beat it until December 2014 when it came back and was considered stage 4. I then beat it again and am still here.  I was also a 9/11 responder when Nancy (his wife) was seven months pregnant with Marisa, which I know stressed her out.”

A fortunate man, as are all Dads. Truthfully, that’s what Father’s Day is about.

Kingston is dad to daughter Marisa, who is 17, and son Eric, who is 15. “Both of which make me proud,” he states. “There are many things that make me proud.  I enjoy watching them achieve things in life that they enjoy. Such as this week, Marisa just yesterday received her very first SAT score which was 1300. She certainly didn’t get that from me,” he says with a chuckle. “Eric this week participated in the Chem Olympics where they went to NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) to present a project.  I enjoyed seeing him do something I didn’t think he would do. The proudest I am is when other parents comment on how nice your children are, which gives me hope I am doing the right thing as a parent.”

Kingston and his wife wanted children and were blessed when Marisa came along. “A few hours after Marisa was born, I went to the nursery to see if they were bringing her to my wife’s room for feeding.  When I could not find Marisa, I was told she had stopped breathing and was being looked at. Talk about the happiest day in your life turning upside down so quick.” Marisa was in NICU for a week, her parents heading home from the hospital without her.  “That definitely was tough and something we certainly did not expect. We brought her home with an Apnea monitor a week later which stayed hooked up for a month. Thankfully everything turned out fine.”

He then adds, “Fatherhood is something I adore and cherish.  I think any father would tell you it certainly is the best thing that has happened in their lives. I enjoy watching my children grow up and discover what they like.”   

“My own dad was a good example!” Kingston says enthusiastically when asked who primed him for being a dad.  “He let me tag along wherever he went, which I enjoyed. My dad was and still is very active and was always doing something.  I can remember helping and watching him working on cars, working on the house, repairing tools, appliances, and visiting the local hardware store, which was a hangout spot.  My dad was a Fire Captain in Nutley and from a young age he would let me hang around the firehouse when he was working and even let me ride to some calls. It was something that I truly enjoyed and looked up to him for doing, as I saw the impact he had on numerous people’s lives.”   

As a Deputy Fire Chief in West Orange, Kingston’s job has both been rewarding and challenging while juggling “Dadhood.” “When the kids were  born up until a few years ago, I worked shift work. Our schedule was 24 hours, on 72 hours off which averages out to a 42-hour work week. That schedule gave me time to be home during the week to bring Marisa and Eric to school and help out on field trips and events. I never gave it much thought until one day they needed a parent last minute for an event and a mom said, ‘Fred can do it, he’s home.’  I had to say I couldn’t as I was working, and she was surprised as she didn’t think I worked. While that schedule is great most of the time, it does have some drawbacks. I have missed spending numerous holidays, weekend sports events, and family events. Christmas to me was always the hardest one to miss, because as a dad you get so much enjoyment seeing their faces and reactions on Christmas morning.  I recall working Father’s Days but enjoyed having Nancy bring Marisa and Eric by for a visit. I am sure the kids and wife would worry about me on the days and nights I was not home and working.”

Kingston recognizes that, as a good dad, there’s no such thing as perfection and he’ll make mistakes. It’s all about learning. “As they grow each age bracket brings different sets of worries.  Most important to me is to let them know I’m here for them and to hopefully instill enough good values so that they make the right decisions in life.”

Real estate agent Chris Coccia has one son, Chase, who is 12 years old.

“I am the owner of a Real Estate sales company. The hours are long and owning a business can sometimes be like having another child. Although the demands are great, one of the advantages is I can make my own hours, so it does allow me the flexibility to make time when needed for my son.”

Fatherhood changed Coccia in a special way. “I think I try to remember my childhood and take those memories and let them guide me to be the best father I can. It has made me look more to the future and be less selfish. After all its all about our kids!”

Many male figures were huge role models when Coccia was growing up – and still are. “The old saying, ‘It takes a village’ comes to mind when asked this question. There were many great influences in my life: my dad, other family members, teachers, coaches, and more. I think I take the person that most influenced me in a particular stage or aspect of my life and ask how he or she would guide me in handling a particular problem. A good father figure to me is someone who always has the right guidance, love and support.”

The most challenging aspect for Coccia is watching Chase experience something that his Dad knows upsets him. He aids his son through the hurdle. “I know it is not a big deal in life, but at the time it is everything to him. I know he will get through it and not even give it a second thought in years to come but at that moment its everything. I wish I could just live that pain for him!”

“I think like everyone else I love to see my son surprise me and exceed my expectations,” says Coccia, referring to even the smallest victories in his son’s life. “I love to see the accomplishment all over his face and for that moment I feel like ‘life’ can’t possibly get any better!”

“I don’t think there is anything in the world that can prepare you to be a father,” claims Dr. Michael Lateiner, DMD. “The best preparation was to think of my parents.  If I could be half the father that my father was to me, I knew I would be doing a great job.”

Lateiner’s son Dylan is 7, and his daughter Sasha is 4. Lateiner has once again become a proud dad in late May to another daughter.

“He (my father) was a hard-working man who always made time for his family.  He made sure that we always knew he loved us, and I could go to him for anything.  He is not only my hero but my role model,” continues Lateiner about his own dad.

Lateiner and his wife, Gloria, own two  pediatric dentist offices, which makes for busy days – and sometimes nights. “It’s very hard to juggle being a business owner, husband and father.  I always try to put family first, but there are sometimes where I can’t make certain events. My children know that I am in the medical field and that there are times where I have to go into the office or work late for emergencies.”  

Being a dad for Lateiner is about being a good example. “The hardest part about being a father is not knowing if you are doing the right thing all of the time.  Unfortunately, children don’t come with an instruction manual, which makes it difficult. Being a father has made me realize how important it is to pass on traditions and instill good behavior.  It makes me think about everything that I do, because I have children that look up to me as I do my father.”

It’s the relationship, on Father’s Day and beyond, which is the biggest thrill. It’s the true meaning of the day, and every day. “I do know that when I wake up in the morning, walk in the door, or just see them in general and they give me the biggest hug and tell me they love me is what melts my heart.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.