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  • Writer's pictureKathy Chin Leong

Father’s Day Tribute– My Dad: The All-American

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Back in the 1950s, my dad Eric Chin enlisted in the US Navy after seeing a sidewalk Navy recruitment poster in front of an Alabama post office. According to Dad, “It showed a sailor in a white Navy uniform with a geisha in kimono in the background.” He shipped out, serving four years in the Pacific Seventh Fleet aboard battle cruisers and stationed in naval bases in Japan during the Korean War and Cold War.

Those four years were among the most exotic and exciting in his life.

And while he wanted to remain in the military, Grandma encouraged him to get married and settle down, and that is exactly what he did. He met my mom in Hong Kong, they wed, and had three children.

What Dad seemed to love about the military, however, was the discipline, structure, and order that the Navy offered to everyone. This type of positive transformation lifted my father’s confidence in all areas of his life.

He attended UC Berkeley, majoring in accounting and became an auditor for the federal government. As Dad, he trained us kids to be disciplined in being physically fit, spiritually fit, and academically fit.

I remember standing on a step stool and washing dishes at seven. I made my bed daily and changed out my sheets weekly. In elementary school, I ironed my dad’s white work shirts with perfect creases on the sleeves.

In addition, the fitness obsession I have must have come from my father. I believe I am the only adult daughter who has ever given her father a wet suit for Father’s Day.

I was quite impressed that in his 70s he was still skiing and wind surfing. Whenever we went to his house, the day would start with a visit to the gym, lunch, then tennis, then dinner, then the post-dinner power walk fir at least 45 minutes.

Now that he is 88, his focus is still keeping his mind and body strong. His eating habits are simple, and he rarely consumes red meat. He listens to university history lectures daily, and the guy is never not reading a hefty thriller or biography.

He and wife Marie ride bicycles and walk daily. Then there’s the gym and kayaking several times a week. He tent camps often throughout the state. I cannot keep up with the guy.

When the borders open up, Dad wants to go to Indonesia just because he has never been there. The avid traveler has already trekked Mount Fuji and gone to the Taj Mahal. Of course, Europe and Asia have been among his chief conquests and have been tackled often. He never takes a tour but prefers going on his own, taking public transportation.

This Father’s Day weekend we drove to see Dad in Lake Tahoe for kayaking and stand up paddling. It is never a dull moment as we adult kids and grandkids take turns going out in the water.

Even now my gifts for Dad all include items that are either healthy food, exercise, or travel-related .

In many ways, Dad is my hero, for he has taught me so much about how to live life simply, make wise choices, and how to be brave in trying new things. Life is a robust adventure, and he has shown me how utterly fulfilling this existence can be. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

I love you!

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