Although generational traits, family dynamics and parenting techniques may vary per father, one important element remains constant — a dad’s love for his child is infinite. Three Wichita dads from three different generations share their tales of fatherhood and what makes being a father such a special experience.
The Baby Boomer dad —
Childhood sweethearts, Marty and Jenae Cornejo celebrated 31 years of marriage in May. They have three sons, Jess, Clint and Bryce.
“Being a dad means everything to me. Wow, it is the best,” says Marty Cornejo. “From the moment when my first son was born until today, my boys and I really are best friends. My wife will tell you she has four boys with me being one of them. Being a dad means everything to me.”
As parents, Marty and Jenae wanted to teach their children faith, family values and manners. He continues, “We go to church and pray as a family. We always sat down to an evening meal together and still make it a point to tell each other we love you when we leave.”
Marty credits his father for instilling in him the importance of commitment. “My dad taught us about discipline, respect and a strong work ethic,” Cornejo continues. “Dad taught us to always be the first to start conversation and respect the people around you. He always encouraged us in whatever we did to give our very best and whatever you start you have to finish. I believe we passed these values on to our boys as they were growing up.”
Marty, Jenae and their family enjoy spending time together as often as possible. Two of their sons Jess and Clint live blocks away from their home in Wichita while their third son Bryce resides in Denver.
“We enjoy traveling as a family, being at the lake or just hanging out together,” says Cornejo. “Iknow my kids have lives to live and we give them their space, but if they want to be with us — everything else can wait.”
Marty and Jenae raised their children as a unified pair and led by example. Marty says he sees this similar parenting style in his son and daughter-in-law as they have become parents to their own son, Marty Jess.
“There is something pretty special about having a grandchild. It is very rewarding to see your kids raising their own children. We couldn’t be more proud of Jess and Whitney in the manner in which they love along with the decisions they make for their son,” explains Cornejo.
In 2015, Marty and Jenae Cornejo were awarded the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sedgwick County Family Match of the Year. Years ago, after Jess left for college, Marty became a Big Brother to then eight-year-old Tre, who is now a sophomore in college.
“I think of Tre as one of my sons. Having him as a member of our family has been just as rewarding for us as it has been for him. Tre considers my boys as his brothers,” says Cornejo.
Cornejo continues, “Father’s Day no doubt is a special day for me from the days when my little guys would come jump on me in bed with the cards they made, to today golfing or grilling out as adults, I savor every moment. However, as my boys have started their families it is so rewarding in the fact that they have grown into great young men, and I know they will be the best fathers to their own children.”
The Generation X dad —
Former WSU and major league baseball player, Koyie Hill, is spending his first baseball season at home in Wichita, with his wife of 15 years, Meghan and their two daughters, Phoenix and Charley.
For more than 16 years, Hill played and coached professional baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies. Today, Hill works in investment real estate with Premier Property Management and Prestige Realty.
“I decided to turn in my baseball career to be home here in Wichita,” says Hill. “We've always been a pretty tight knit group (family). A lot of time is dedicated to being a major league baseball player and coach, and it demands a lot of time away from each other. I wanted to spend that time being a husband and a father. I wanted to be around Meghan and raise our family together.”
Hill credits Meghan with being the best mom and wife. He says, “My wife was always supportive and never complained about the sacrifices we made as a family for my baseball career. The girls were always super travelers and we had a blast. Being here with my girls has been the best spring and start of the baseball season I have ever had.” Hill says he and Meghan support each other in the parenting of their children. "As a father, Hill wants to teach his kids to be leaders and to be kind to others.
“We want our kids to have respect for themselves and for others. We want them to have as much fun being kids as they can and to put their very best effort into everything they do,” says Hill. “Above all else, I want my kids to know they have a family that loves each other.”
Hill also hopes that his daughters will learn from him that it is possible to achieve your goals in life. “With hard work and complete dedication anything is possible. Your dreams are out there. You have to go chase them down,” says Hill.
Working hard was a trait Hill learned from his father while he was growing up in Oklahoma. “My dad was a hard worker who spent long hours working as a construction worker and carpenter. Regardless of how my dad’s day was, even after a long, hot day, he would always make time to play catch with me and spend time with me in his free time,” says Hill. “My mom is a very positive person and her support was inspiring.”
“Fatherhood is about learning,” Hill continues. “Every day is new game. You win some. You lose some. Our kids teach us as much as we teach them. I want to help facilitate who my girls want to be. I want to see where they go. I want to see their dreams come true. Dreams can take you all around the world if you want them bad enough.”
The Millennial dad —
Taylor Gilmore and his wife, Jessica, met in college at Wichita State University where he was playing baseball and Jessica was a member of the track team. The couple has been married for five years and they have two daughters, four-year- old, Gracie and two-year-old, Gabi. They are also expecting a son in July.
Gilmore was born and raised in West Wichita by his parents Brad and Kari. He attended Bishop Carroll High School and was the middle son of three children, all boys, in his family.
Gilmore credits his father for being the backbone of the family and instilling in him a strong work ethic.
“Dad taught us that we have to work hard to be successful in sports, in work and in life,” explains Gilmore. “Because of him, I learned how hard work pays off and you can’t wait for things to happen. You have to make them happen. I want to pass this strong work ethic on to my kids as they grow up.”
Professionally, Gilmore works as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Wichita. When asked about his experience as a father he says, “I wouldn’t trade being a dad for anything. It is the best part of the day when my children run to me as I walk in the door each night.”
Gilmore continues, “My children mean everything to me. They are what you think about when you wake up and when you go to bed each night. They are the reason we go to work each day. Everything we do, we think of how it will affect the kids. It is not about me, but about the future of our children and their happiness.”
Every dad hopes to leave a positive impact on their child’s life as they grow. Gilmore hopes his children will always remember his guidance and teaching throughout their childhood.
“I hope my children will come to me with any questions they have growing up,” He explains. “I am not planning to be their best friend, but my goal is to show them right from wrong and to teach them the right way to do things.”
In their spare time, the Gilmore family enjoys playing outside, jumping at trampoline parks, swimming and traveling.
To first time fathers, Gilmore recommends that new dads enjoy the experience. “My first advice to new dads is to soak it up. They (children) grow so fast,” Gilmore continues. “Everyone parents differently. You have to find what works for you.”
Generational personality traits
(Born between 1946 and 1964)
• The save-the-world revolutionaries of the 1960s and 1970s.
• Party-hardy career climbers of the 1970s and 1980s.
• The rock and roll music generation.
• Credit generation.
• The first TV generation.
• Optimistic, career-oriented and team-focused.
• Envision technology and innovation as something that requires learning.
• Respects authority, hierarchal structureand tradition.
• One of the largest generations in historywith 77 million people.
(Born between 1965 and 1980)
• The latch-key kids grew up street-smartbut isolated.
• Very individualistic.
• Want to save the neighborhood, not the world.
• School problems were about drugs.
• Late to marry. Many marry after cohabitation.
• Into labels and brand names.
• Cautious, skeptical and self-reliant.
(Born between 1981 and 2000)
• The 9/11 Generation.
• They are nurtured by omnipresent parents.
• Optimistic and focused.
• Assertive but respect authority.
• They schedule everything.
• Prefer digital literacy.
• Get all information from the Internet.
• Prefer to work in teams.