If you submitted a nomination to the 2023 Outstanding Fathers of the Year contest this spring, thank you! We received submissions from across the Ozarks from people who recognize the important roles that dads play in the lives of kids. We heard from sons and daughters, co-workers, neighbors, spouses, mentors and many others who believed in the Outstanding Fathers in their lives.
It was heartwarming and inspiring to see the outpour of support in each and every nomination. It is clear that southwest Missouri has no shortage of amazing dads. It was a tough decision because there were so many amazing nominations! But evaluation committees reached a consensus for finalists in each career field. We believe each of the following fathers exemplify the above merits and go above and beyond what it means to be a good dad.
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 week’s blogpost, you’ll learn a little more about Christopher Hunt and Lee Williams. Be sure to check in next week when we feature Joshua Dukewits and Joseph Taylor!
The Outstanding Fathers of the Year contest helped us further our 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:
Christopher Hunt of Reeds Spring, MO, is a welder and father of two, Conner (29) and Ashley (26). He also has two grandchildren: Lincoln (2 ½) and Molly (9 months). Over his 18-year tenure at Loren Cook, he has worked his way up in the company. His current role is Vice President of Manufacturing, where he oversees all aspects of manufacturing.
“He started working at 15 and hasn’t stopped,” Ashley told Good Dads. “There was even a time when he was working two jobs welding and only getting paid cents for each piece welded.”
Christopher told Good Dads that many great people in his life have shaped him into the person he is today, but he especially wanted to recognize his own parents, Cynthia and Jack.
Ashley said of her father: “My dad is the best dad because he listens and teaches and doesn’t just tell. He is always there for us or just a phone call away with the best advice. He is truly like a superhero to our family! We would be lost without him.”
Conner described his father as an honest, committed man who always goes the extra mile.
“My dad loves us not only by his words but (by) his actions, commitments, posture and charisma,” Conner told Good Dads. “My dad expects the most of the people he loves. He holds them to a higher standard, knowing what we are capable of, knowing that we have what it takes to accomplish our goals, and raised us to not give up. He expects the people he loves to do the right thing not just when it’s convenient, but all the time, and builds (us) up with confidence to be courageous.”
Christopher was described by his nominees as loyal, brave, calm, kind and jolly. He is known by his loved ones as a hard worker who never takes the easy way out.
“He makes no false statements and tells you the ugly truth whether you want to hear it or not,” Conner said. “Even when it’s something you don’t want to hear, it comes from a place of deep and profound love.”
Christopher’s Father’s Day plans include “food, family and Table Rock Lake—family being the most important.”
He describes a good dad as someone who teaches children right from wrong while looking out for their best interests. A good dad “instills a sense of confidence” in children and has “an endless amount of love for them.”
Lee Williams of Springfield, MO, is a driver for UPS and a father of an 11-year-old son, Jay. He and his wife, Aubree, have a baby on the way and are looking to adopt in the future. Lee also serves as a father-figure for his nieces.
Aubree describes her husband as a hard-working employee and says if you were to ask his supervisors, they’d describe him as one of the best drivers at the company. She says during Lee’s 10 years with UPS, he has regularly volunteered at company and community events. In addition to making others laugh at work with this humor and playful personality, he has proven himself as reliable by helping to train new drivers, working extra hours and “giving 100% on the job daily.”
“During the pandemic and our first year of marriage while businesses were closed and everyone was home, he worked six days a week, 14-hour days,” Aubree said. “He never complained about the physical toll it took on him to provide for his family. He just got the job done.”
Aubree told Good Dads an amazing story of Lee’s fight to win custody of Jay. It was a stressful and challenging legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which Aubree says may assist in reform for fathers’ rights.
“When you’re just a regular guy up against a system of lawyers, judges (and) cops just to have equal rights as a dad, and you refuse to stop fighting for your child, that’s an INCREDIBLE father,” Aubree wrote in her nomination.
In addition to his commitment to Jay, Lee remains committed to his nieces, whose father is not in their lives. Lee has remained highly involved in the children’s school activities, including attending Good Dads Strong Schools breakfast events!
“Dads are great caregivers, too,” Aubree said. “My husband is a great dad, and during (the custody battle, he) never showed he was going through hardship or wavered his fight for his son.
“He said he wanted his son to always know he was the most wanted son in the world. (Lee’s) dad wasn't in his life, so he broke that cycle.”
Lee says his grandmother, mother and wife (whom he met and befriended at five years old) stand out as those who helped shape him into the person he is today.
He also wanted to recognize his late sister, Lacy. Lacy had Down Syndrome and passed away from Leukemia at age 18.
“She was such a happy child despite having a difficult life,” Lee said.
Lee’s loved ones describe him as hardworking, loving, intelligent, funny and silly.
Jay commends his father for being “a real dad, not a fake dad.” By this, Jay means other parents on social media pretend to look good, but in contrast, his dad is the “real thing.” Jay says his father is a great dad because Lee plays with him after work no matter how tired he is, checks his homework, makes him breakfast and takes him places on weekends.
Lee says he’ll be celebrating this Father’s Day with his family, maybe with some barbeque and a float trip.
Lee’s definition of a good dad is “a role model”—someone who “sets a good example” and always “does the right thing.” He says a good dad is a person that children can trust and who loves them.
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:
Christopher: Be a father first and then a friend. Have structure and boundaries for your kids.
Lee: Remember what it was like to be a kid—how hard it was to fit in. Just be a kid with your kid, and have fun with them. Make sure your kids know you are there for them.