Yesterday was Father’s Day and I began thinking about my Daddy and the influence he’s had on my life. Kenneth English was born in Carthage, Texas on October 11, 1934 which makes him 80 years old. He was one of ten children born to poor farmers who worked land they didn’t own. With only a third grade education, he joined the Army when he was 15 years old and later served a term in the Marines, too. At some point, he got his GED. When my mom met him, he was a fireman and I was not even two years old. (My biological father had been a police officer killed in the line of duty when I was only six months old, but that is story for another day.)
They married March 1, 1963. I was two years old. He officially adopted me and gave me his last name, English. My sister came along when I was seven. When I was around 8, he began taking college courses while working full time as a police officer. When he received his Bachelor’s degree, he began teaching Police Science at a community college. Always a hard worker, in the summers he would take on a second job. One summer he worked at Chief Auto Parts and for several summers he mowed the lawn at the State School.
He instilled in us a love for education, the value of hard work, and the importance of honesty and integrity. He was a hard man to live with. The things he’d seen as a police officer made him worry about everything. As a teenager if I wanted to go out with a group after church, he would ask a million questions and question my motives. Often we would get into arguments as I would get mad at his questions, feeling he didn’t trust me – not understanding the things he’d witnessed that made him fear for my safety. It wasn’t until I was much older with kids of my own that I began to understand a little of why he is the way he is.
His students at the college loved him. They said he was witty, funny and caring. Looking back it’s sad that at home we really didn’t see that side of him too much. I really believe he felt he was protecting us. We did and still do know that he loves us and wants the best for us.
As a young adult I made some wrong choices and found myself at age 33 divorced with two young children and no degree. I believe it is due to my Daddy’s influence that helped me make my decision to return to school and get my teaching degree. He also kept pushing me to go back to school and get my Master’s degree in Education Administration which I now have.
We have the best relationship that we’ve ever had now. And my sister and I both give credit to him for our higher education. He pulled himself up from a poor family with only a third grade education and retired as a respected college instructor. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! I love you!