The Dish on Being a Dad

. June 2, 2014.

Being a father is hard work, yet these four dads want only one thing on the day dedicated to them: to spend time with their families.

Hyman Johnson

Father to Michael, 33, (not pictured), Ryan, 23, Aaron, 19
Hometown:  Ypsilanti

E ach of Hyman’s sons have a different  name for him. Ryan calls him Buddy. Aaron calls him Pops. Michael calls him Dad. Whatever the nickname, Hyman says that being Dad is “the greatest title a man can have.” Grown men in their own right, his sons still check in with him when a tough decision comes up. Whatever the advice, “the boys always say I love you before they get off the phone.” Hyman taught his sons to properly “represent the family” out in the world.  His oldest, Michael, certainly does that as principal of Lakewood Elementary School in Ann Arbor. Ryan has an MBA, and Aaron just completed his freshman year of college. Hyman is an avid fisherman, and makes a supply list each spring. One year, his wife and sons copied the list and presented him with each item as his Father’s Day gift. “I couldn’t be richer,” he says, “couldn’t be loved more.”




Andrew Nalepa

Father to Morgan, 8, Emerson, 4
Hometown:  Ann Arbor

Andrew has embraced the change in life that comes with having young daughters.  He loves it when he and his girls play soccer at the park, but is also game when they want to play dress up.  Andrew sums up fatherhood quite succinctly. “Being a Dad means everything.” He is inspired by his relationship with his father and his own positive childhood experiences to create the same for his girls; that means getting outside for playtime, and taking advantage of what Ann Arbor has to offer by visiting museums and parks. The most crucial aspect of fatherhood for him is to spend time with his kids. Father’s Day for Andrew means letting his wife and daughters set the agenda. “They like the planning.” Last year they planned a trip to a Tigers game.  Homemade presents from his daughters are his gifts of choice. “I love to see their faces, how proud they are.”


Kevin Salley

Father to Isabelle, 17 Mitchell, 15
Hometown: Ann Arbor

For Kevin, being a Dad means “coaching, mentoring … being a shoulder.” Of course, with teenagers, it also means that Dad is “the guy with the money.” With college around the corner, that probably won’t change. Education is important to Kevin, and his role as mentor has meant nurturing his kids’ natural inclination to learn.  Isabelle will attend the University of Michigan in the fall to study engineering, and watching her succeed in a male-oriented field is a source of pride for Kevin, as is having her want to stay close to home.  “It’s a great reward… watching them transition into adults.” For the past few years, Father’s Day has meant a trip up north near Mackinac with Mitchell, a nice time for father and son bonding.  His greatest Father’s Day gift? That’s easy, his wife, Mary, went into labor with Isabelle on Father’s Day in 1996.

Christopher Creighton

Father to Hallie, 10, Kate, 8, Luke, 6
Hometown:  Ypsilanti

How do you make a football coach melt? For EMU head coach Chris Creighton, it’s being called “Daddy” by his kids, as well as sharing their first experiences, the quiet before bed time, praying and talking about the day. Time with his kids at home after practice, “those are the precious moments you get.” During practice, Creighton has a unique no-swearing allowed policy, making it a suitable environment for his kids to visit, something he loves. The policy isn’t just about his kids, however, “I want the players to be able to articulate what they are thinking without profanity.” On Father’s Day, Creighton is happiest spending the day together as a family.  He received a memorable Father’s Day gift from his wife in 2012, a trip to London, fulfilling a wish to see the Olympic games in a foreign country. The fact that Chris has a brother in London made the trip that much more enjoyable.