It’s Father’s Day in Denville: Local Dads Share Stories of Fatherhood

By Steve Sears

It’s that time of the year where Denville Life tips our caps to the Dads of Denville…just a few of them.

Dino Cappello, a Denville Board of Education member, has two children, Julia age 13, Henry 9.

“It (being a Dad) has given me a greater appreciation for my mother and father as parents and really I appreciate everyone who takes on the awesome responsibility of raising children. It really is a leap of faith as no one is truly prepared for it until you are in it and you aren’t really sure how you will react to have these young lives totally dependent on you until it happens.”

Cappello was not as prepared for fatherhood as he thought. “I think I had this vision in my head of parenthood being my life with kids added in.  What I was not prepared for was how completely in ways large and small, kids change your life and your relationships with your spouse.”

His own dad and uncles educated him through their actions. “My father was a great educator and took a lot of time to teach me about things he knew and help me with my schoolwork.  My uncles all had different strengths, and I could rely on them for help with sports, or just when I was having a bad day or problem.”

Cappello owns a small business, an on-line attractions ticket company. Even in self-employment, his time is taxed, perhaps more so then being employed by someone else. “Being involved in my own business and it being on-line means I often end up working at all hours and over weekends and holidays.  Finding the balance between work and home is always difficult especially on the weekends when everyone is home looking for something to do and I will often have to work at least part of the time.”

There were and are challenges to being a Dad. “For me it was managing the controlled chaos of having young children.  Not trying to protect them from everything but being able to let go and let them experience things on their own and sometimes fall down, fail and get back up with the lesson learned.”

His pride in his kids shows. “When I see them going out of their way to care for someone who is hurt or struggling without being asked or prodded, I hope I am seeing the outlines of a caring empathetic adult they are on their way to being.”

Denville Councilman John Murphy is a dad to an adopted daughter from China, Christina (23).

“Yes, mostly it is in the reaction of others, many are not prepared for the differences and for the most part try to say something nice,” says Murphy, when asked if being an adoptee Dad is different than being a birth father. “Many have said ‘How lucky she is’  only for me to correct them and say, ‘It’s us who are the lucky ones.’ When you are the parent of an adopted child, many other parents want to offer you well-intentioned advice, and try to point out the special potential issues and needs of adopted children, which fortunately we have never experienced.   I have always tried to be gracious, and accepting of the advice, but have tried to treat Christina as just as special as any other parents would treat their child. She was as normal as any other child and never exhibited any of the other issues that some parents tried to make us aware of, she was just a great kid.”

Christina has taught him many things. “Mostly to put others before myself, and to care for people. We have done many things together, I have participated in her Indian Guides, coached her as a soccer, softball and lacrosse player.  Through that involvement I went on to get and receive the highest-level national credential for lacrosse coaching and still do it today, thanks Christina.”

Murphy was not prepared for fatherhood, especially being the dad of an adoptee. “Although the paperwork for adoption was a bit tedious and the review process long, after filing for review it kind of goes out of your thoughts given the length.  Then one day you get word that you are traveling to China in ten days, and you have to get prepared for that journey and all the logistics. Finally, after three days of traveling, you settle into your hotel in a strange city in a foreign country and there comes a knock on the door and there are people there from the orphanage that hand you this wonderful bundle of joy”.

Murphy, a retired corporate accountant, found the juggling demanding when Christina first came home. “When we first welcomed Christina into our family, my job was very demanding as it was all about monthly closing and budget preparation.  As a matter of fact, upon returning from China with Christina, I have to return immediately to work to consolidate a budget for board presentation. It was down to my wife Stacey to settle in with Christina.”

His Uncle Charlie was a great example of a good dad. “A dedicated family man who lived for the happiness of his family.  He would plan family outings, days out, take any occasion and make it special. He would spoil his children while trying to guide them at the same time, a difficult balancing act.  He was genuinely a warm man that cared for his children, family and community.”

The most challenging aspect of fatherhood? Ensuring Christina knows she has his support. “As I mentioned, my job was most demanding, having to miss out on some of Christina’s moments was some of the most challenging aspect, the most important aspect for me was driving home the point that she has unlimited potential and that she can achieve whatever she wants.  It’s important for me that she know that she has my support in whatever she does.”

“Christina has grown into a fine young woman; she is an absolute pleasure to be around.  My wife and I receive many compliments on our daughter Christina and how much fun she is, and how caring and gentle she is.  Christina has recently graduated college, she is self-reliant, she has a bright future and the world is her oyster.”

Hank Jones, owner of Denville Automotive, met his wife, Pamela, when she was just 14.

Out of that meeting has blossomed a beautiful marriage and three great kids: Heather (39), Christopher (28), and Holly (29).

“I was 25 years old I think,” says Jones regarding his age when Heather was born. “It made me have more responsibility and appreciate life more as being a father. I was fortunate; I wanted girl-boy-girl and that’s exactly what I got,” he says with a chuckle.

Jones’s birth dad passed away when he was 8 years old, so his stepdad became a huge influence in his life. “I never knew him,” he says of his birth dad, “so my mom remarried and he’s my idol. I learned everything from him. He taught me everything: respect, how to treat people. He was a good man and great father.”

When growing up, Jones says the most challenging aspect of fatherhood was ensuring he was there for his three children. “That they have a better life that sometimes we didn’t have growing up. Bring them up the right way, to like people, faith and religion, and bring them up the best way we could, my wife and I.” Jones often worked from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at his automotive shops, which made it difficult to have time for his children. “My wife had to do a lot of the duties I couldn’t do like take them to games. It was tough, but we made it. Sometimes you have to sacrifice. You lose your identity when you have children. They say, ‘Your Heather’s dad,’ and I say, ‘No, I’m Hank Jones.’ But that’s part of our parenthood.”

Jones is most proud of how his children have grown up to be hard working individuals and how caring they are for other human beings. “They (his kids) would give them their last shirt on their back, and that makes you proud. My wife and I can honestly say we’re very proud of our children. We have grandchildren – it’s fantastic.”

For Bill Scielso, father of William, age 13 and Hayden Scielso, age 9, fatherhood has been quite an adventure.  

“Almost 19 years ago, when my wife Mindi and I were married, I never could have imagined being a dad.  It is safe to say that I was not prepared, nor did I have any idea what to expect. But looking back now, I can’t imagine life without my family.”

For Scielso, becoming a dad was a life changing experience.  “I quickly learned that there is no more “me” time and sleep is something that just doesn’t happen.  My views on life changed very quickly, what used to be important wasn’t so important anymore, my life became their life.   Being a dad has made me a softer, more compassionate and nurturing person. My little girl melts my heart and my teenage son, well you know how fun teenage boys can be. Being a dad really made me grow into the person I am today, and I am forever grateful.”

Scielso credits his dad, 90-years-young Bill Scielso Sr., for being a great role model throughout my life.  “Growing up I didn’t realize it as much, but now he truly shines, and I am so thankful for him. Dad was always there for me and my sister growing up, even though he ran a business and worked many hours. He has been my biggest fan in life and has supported every step along the way.  You see, my father was much older when I was born and as I have gone through milestones in my adult life, I have realized how important family is. I wasn’t sure if he would see me get married or become a dad. But as these milestones took place, I embraced and greatly appreciated that he was there for me every step.”

Scielso, like his dad, calls being a jeweler his occupation. He owns Bilori Jewelers in Denville.  “I’m very thankful to be self-employed as it gives me flexibility to be more hands on as a dad. I’m fortunate that I can arrange my schedule to attend important events, coach sports and even able to help when the kids are not feeling well.  I believe if one can, it is important to volunteer and be there for my children as much as I can. While scheduling isn’t always ideal, my wife and I work very well to ensure that one of us is always at a sporting event or special event.”

One of his biggest challenges is always being on the go.  “I don’t think downtime even exists these days, often my wife and I high five each other as we cross paths running to events.  Another challenge and scare are social media and all the phone technology. It’s a completely new world and our children are exposed to so much these days.  Much of which is not even visible to us parents. Having control or feeling we have control is very challenging.”

“But with all this being said,” concludes Scielso, “I truly love being a dad and would not change it for anything in this world.  I enjoy watching my children as they grow into loving, caring individuals. And I feel very proud that they know they are loved and are very happy.   I feel confident that my wife and I are giving them a good foundation for success in life, I just hope they use this foundation to strive to make the right choices and continue to grow and contribute to society.”

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