Last week, we announced the four Outstanding Father of the Year finalists:
Congratulations, Dads! Finalists are invited to be Good Dads’ distinguished guests at our annual dinner and banquet this September. They will also receive certificates honoring their new titles.
In this blogpost, we’re featuring Joshua Dukewits and Joseph Taylor. To learn more about Christopher Hunt and Lee Williams, head to last week’s blog.
If you submitted a nomination to the 2023 Outstanding Fathers of the Year contest this spring, thank you! It was heartwarming and inspiring to see the outpour of support in every nomination. It is clear that southwest Missouri has no shortage of amazing dads.
The Outstanding Fathers of the Year contest helped Good Dads further its mission in promoting the roles of fathers in our homes, workplaces and communities. We welcomed submissions for biological fathers, step-fathers and father-figures. We centered the contest around blue-collar careers (first responders, law enforcement, trades and transportation) because we believe these fathers are often underestimated and underappreciated.
After the online nomination form closed on May 22, each qualifying submission was reviewed by an evaluation committee, comprised of Ozarks community leaders. They judged each submission on the following merits:
It was a tough decision because we had so many amazing nominations! But evaluation committees reached a consensus for finalists in each career field.
Joshua Dukewits of Nixa, MO, is a battalion chief and a father to Myla (10) and Mason (7). When he is not fighting fires at the Battlefield Fire Protection District, he and his wife, Amy, run a small business serving barbeque in a food truck.
“Josh is a true fire fighter and has a love for the service,” Amy said in her nomination. “He has never been one to chase a title—he has always chased his dream.”
It’s clear that fire-fighting, which has been Joshua's career for 17 years, is an inextricable part of his identity.
“My dad was a radiologist, and I was planning to do the same,” Joshua told Good Dads. “He inspired me to do something different and introduced me to a friend who was a fire fighter. My uncle was a fire fighter when I was a kid. Something sparked, and I never looked back.”
It’s clear that fatherhood is also tantamount to Joshua's identity.
“From the very beginning of our parenthood journey, I knew we were in this together,” Amy said in her nomination. “Josh has shared his outgoing traits with our kids by taking them to do adventurous activities, sharing his love of football and basketball, BBQ and everything else he does!”
Mason said of his father: “He is good. He is nice. And he is my dad!”
Myla said of her father: “He is a good barbeque-r, active and fast!”
Those close to Joshua describe him as talented, genuine and determined to be an example of hard work, kindness and following your passion.
Joshua told Good Dads he had to work on Father’s Day, but we at the Good Dads team hope being named Outstanding Father of the Year makes up for it!
He describes a good dad as someone who is not too hard, but not too soft. “(I’m) teaching my kids to have respect for themselves and each other,” and to “always treat others how they want to be treated,” he said.
Joseph Taylor of Marshfield, MO, is detective with the Marshfield Police Department where he has worked for 13 years. He has two daughters, Haily (28) and Lacey (26), and a son, Judson (22).
Haily Huntoon describes her father as selfless, proud and brave, saying Taylor has helped a number of children in abuse and neglect situations while on the job.
“He definitely wears his badge with honor,” she said. “Day or night—he’s always there when duty calls.”
Lacey Pogue says Joseph has worked tirelessly in child advocacy during his time in law enforcement, describing long hours year-round to bring justice to the community.
“He goes the extra mile for the victims … and does so because he cares and is never looking for a pat on the back,” Lacey said. “He has a heart for his job and is always eager to learn.”
In her nomination, co-worker Lori Letterman described Joseph as someone with pride and confidence in his work.
“I believe the definition of a good dads is someone who protects children at all costs … (and) Detective Taylor has rescued hundreds of children from abuse,” Letterman said. “A father is to protect, provide and lead. Detective Taylor has done all the above and then some without complaint.”
Joseph says several men deeply influenced him during his upbringing.
“My father, stepfather, uncle and grandfather all shaped me into who I am today,” Taylor told Good Dads. “I look up to all these men and followed in the footsteps of my uncle to pursue my career in Law Enforcement.”
Good Dads received four separate nominations for Joseph from his family and colleagues, more than any other nominee. His nominators described him as strong, wise, dedicated, capable, passionate and hard-working.
“Joe is a great man who has a mindset of always putting others first,” said Steven Pogue, Joseph's co-worker.
Joseph told Good Dads his plans for Father’s Day included going with his brother to Kansas to spend time with his father, his kids and his grandchildren.
“My definition of a good dads is someone who always makes time for their children and tries to set good examples of respect, hard work, love and humbleness,” Joseph said.
Lacey said her father’s selflessness is part of what makes him a good dad: “He would give a stranger the shirt off his back if he knew they needed it. He always puts everyone else before himself.”
We asked each of our finalists to dispense one piece of advice for fathers in the Ozarks who want to be better dads. Here is what they had to say:
Joshua Dukewits: Make time for your kids. Time will pass you by if you are not careful.
Joseph Taylor: Spend as much time with your children as you can. Let them know they can talk with you about anything. “In 20 years, your boss will not remember the extra time you put in at work, but your children will.”