Today is Father’s Day and it made me realize (once again) how blessed I am to have the dads that I have, and how grateful I am to still have them! Their characters molded me, just like your dad’s molded you.

My dad (John Williams) is the “strong, silent” type. He always makes me feel safe and protected when I’m with him. When I was a kid, he taught me how to play ball. Whatever season it was, we were out front with the appropriate ball. I never really had the talent or confidence to do well on teams but I could always hold my own in neighborhood games. Mostly I just loved that he wanted to teach me and thought it was fun to play with me (even though I was a girl).

As a grandfather, my kids trusted his advice and listening skills. He didn’t say much and never judged, but when he offered something up (especially in their teen years), they soaked it in. He remains a wonderful person to bring your troubles to. His ear, his shoulder and his home are always available.

His sense of humor can be a little raunchy and biting, but once you get to know that there isn’t harm or malice intended you learn to appreciate it.

My father-in-law (Jim Markins — another Ahwatukean) was a really intense, powerful, driven man for much of my early marriage. He was always kind and respectful to me, but I didn’t want to get in the way if there was a problem at the family business. This focused effort resulted in the business that continues to support ours, and quite a number of other families as well.

In the past 20 years I’ve seen him transform. He is tender-hearted, engaging and his focus/time has shifted entirely to family and some civic causes. I have never known anyone who shows more grace or mercy when his loved ones goof up (like totaling his Corvette). He says, “That’s just ‘stuff’ and stuff can be replaced.”

He values his friends deeply and would sacrifice any possession or his time to help someone in need, even a total stranger. I’ve witnessed him do it time and again.

He keeps track of what people are doing and asks about it when he sees them. He affirms and encourages each one for their efforts, successes and trials.

My late step dad (Mark Soto) gave me a true gift. He showed my mother deep love, affection and care in the last 20 years of her life. He was always quick with a smile and happy to help with anything.

I have been influenced, encouraged and shaped by these men… these dads. I know that many people aren’t fortunate enough to have even one great dad in a lifetime so my portion was more than triple.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Markins can be reached at See more of her writing at or connect on Facebook/

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