Amazing how such a small word can have such a huge impact on a child’s life.
Like moms, dads have the hard, and sometimes frustrating job, of raising kids. However, unlike moms, dads often times don’t get as much recognition for the role they play in our lives.
They are the givers of bear hugs, deliverers of bad jokes and killers of bugs. Dads cheer us on in our highest points and teach us how to overcome our lowest ones.
Dads teach us how to throw a baseball or kick a soccer ball. They take in our flat tire and dented rim to the shop when we drove on it because we had no idea we had a flat tire and just thought something was wrong with the steering wheel (sorry, Dad).
This year in celebration of Father’s Day, the Greeley Tribune is honoring a variety of dads in our community by telling their stories and experiences of fatherhood.
We have a girl dad, a law enforcement dad, a single dad, a foster dad, a stepdad, a firefighter dad, a dad of adult kids, a boy dad and a dad of young ones.
While all are dads, each has his own unique story and view on what many of them described as “the best job in the world.”
The list of names that we received from the community for this story was overwhelming and unfortunately, we weren’t able to write about every single dad. The Tribune hopes to turn this piece into an annual event so that we can feature the stories of more dads in our community. So keep those dads in mind for next year, because we would love to be able to tell their story.
The Tribune would like to wish all the dads in our community a very Happy Father’s Day.
The veteran dad
If there were two specific words synonymous with the Greeley Tribune, it would be “Mike Peters.”
For many years, Mike Peters kept Greeley and Weld County communities informed about crimes, cops and other important information as a reporter for the paper. He continues to write for the Tribune by sharing his thoughts every Saturday in the “Gnarly Trombone,” as well as compiling historical reports for the “100 Years Ago” column.
While being known in the community is great for a reporter, it can be a little annoying for their kids.
“It was hell,” quipped Mick Peters.
“You couldn’t go anywhere without somebody saying, ‘Oh, you’re Mike Peters’ kid’,” Vanessa Peters-Leonard added, laughing. “Everybody knew my dad. It was kind of nice when people didn’t know him.”
Joking aside, Mike Peters’ two adult children look back fondly of going to work with their dad.
“I got to go to work with dad multiple times and roam around downtown, back when it was safe to do that,” Mick said. “I got to meet a bunch of people. It was fun. Dad being in the media was one of those things he met all kinds of people.”
Mike Peters’ stellar reputation as a reporter had a big effect on both Mick and Vanessa as they were growing up.
“If I learned anything from my father, it’s very much love and integrity,” Vanessa explained. “From his job to family and friends, that’s just who he is. People trusted him because of the integrity of his writing, the relationships he had with people and treating them the way anyone wants to be treated.”
Mick said patience and listening to people are two of the biggest things he’s learned from his dad.
“You have to be patient and you have to listen,” Mick said. “He’s one of the most patient people I know. I am still learning to be patient and listen. It takes a lifetime, but he’s mastered it.”
Another thing the Peters children learned from their dad, and their mom, is what makes a good marriage and relationship.
“They still have a very strong friendship, a very strong relationship. He still writes her love notes,” Vanessa said. “Just little things like that, even as an adult, I look at it and think that’s how marriage should be.”
“They’ve been married 54 years,” Mick added.
You’re always a parent to your kids no matter how old they are, but for the Peters clan, that relationship transitioned into more of a friendship as Vanessa and Mick became adults.
“They were grown up. They didn’t need our guidance all of the time,” Mike Peters explained.
Sitting on the couch, looking at Vanessa and Mick, it was easy to see the pride, love and respect Mike Peters has for his two adult children and the people they have become.
“We have a nice family and a loving family,” Mike Peters said in his signature soft voice. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The new dad
While Vanessa and Mick could list dozens of things they learned from their dad over the years, for new dad Tommy Dyer, his two little ones are the teachers, and he’s the student.
Tommy Dyer, co-owner of Brix Brew and Tap, 813 8th St., is dad to two little blonde cuties — Leon, 3 1/2, and Lucy, 8 months.
“When we had our son, we started running the business too so I kind of jumped into a lot at once,” Dyer said. “It was pretty overwhelming the first year. Just adapting to fatherhood took quite a while really. It wasn’t until (Lucy) was born that I really felt like a dad.”
Dyer’s view on being a dad changed when he had his little girl. The rough wrestling and tossing that he does with Leon is something he thinks twice about when it comes to Lucy.
“I feel more like a protector. I hope to be the man in her life until she gets married,” he said as he held his little girl.
As a parent to two little ones who observe and soak in everything, Dyer quickly learned about having patience and being mindful of what he says and does.
“Every little thing leaves an impact on them, so you want to make sure you’re saying the right things around them,” Dyer said. “They are little sponges, so your actions and words are very important.”
One of the things Dyer has really enjoyed seeing is how Leon and Lucy’s personalities have developed and how different they are.
“Leon is kind of the tidy one, and she’s kind of the messy, allover one,” he said. “It’s interesting.”
Dyer credits his wife, Whitney Dyer, for helping him balance the business and family life.
“She does the hard work, honestly,” he said. “There are lots of evenings when I’m not home. But getting time with them in the morning is nice and keeping that balance. It’s a husband-and-wife team effort, and I couldn’t do it without her.”
When asked what advice he’d give other new dads, Dyer said fatherhood really isn’t something you can prepare for. It happens, and you “adjust and figure it out.”
“There’s not one book or anything you can read,” he said. “Everyone is going to be different and have different circumstances. So my advice would be to trust your instincts and have family support and friends around.”
The single dad
Being a parent is hard. Being a single parent is harder. But being a single parent of a child of the opposite sex is probably one of the hardest jobs around.
Greeley resident Cory Hill, with his 12-year-old daughter, Ariana, has managed to overcome the challenges of being a single parent, not to mention a single dad of a girl. Hill was granted custody of Ariana when she was almost 3 years old.
“I was a young dad; I had her when I was 20. And like a lot of young couples, we just didn’t work out for various reasons,” Hill explained. “Her mom just wasn’t in a place where she could give her the care she needed, so it made sense for me to get her full time. And it kind of just remained that way.”
The responsibility of being a dad to a toddler helped Hill grow up quick, and he credits his daughter for “keeping him honest and keeping him on his toes.”
“I probably got a lot farther in life with her and with that responsibility then if I didn’t have that,” he said. “I think it’s been a good thing, a blessing all around for both of us.”
Growing up with just a brother and no sisters to turn to for reference, Hill had to learn everything about raising a daughter on his own.
“That was a learning curve as she got older. Now with her being in the preteen stage, there are a lot of social things that I had no idea how to deal with or respond to. Physical changes, plus emotional changes that neither of us had been through,” Hill said, laughing. “It was the first time for both of us which may have made things better. I definitely wasn’t an expert on any of it — and I didn’t claim to be.”
When things such as periods, bras and other female-related issues came up, both Hill and Ariana tackled it together, researching products and talking to female friends and family members.
“She’s been lucky enough to have some really great teachers throughout elementary school that she’s really connected with that kind of took her under their wing and provided that motherly role,” Hill said. “I think that really helped also. She felt that she did have females around and get that side of things that I couldn’t provide.”
Other challenges Hill has faced as a single parent include not being able to be everywhere at once, being the sole decision-maker and being the sole breadwinner.
“You’re forced to make decisions by yourself. You don’t have a second opinion to go off of or help with that,” Hill said. “That’s always tough, and it adds a level of stress because if I don’t do a good job raising this kid, it’s all on me.”
Some advice Hill would give to other single parents, especially dads who find themselves as single parents, is that you have to figure things out, one step at a time as you go.
“When I first got custody of Ariana, I was in between jobs; I didn’t have any money; I had to borrow money to rent a place to live. We struggled for a while,” Hill said. “It’s crazy, and I never would have thought we’d make it or get this far, but now we’ve got a nice home, a good business that’s running. It’s crazy how much potential you have when you don’t realize it.”
When Kayelie Anderson, 18, talks about her stepdad, Henry Kelsey, their close bond is easy to see.
Sitting in the family’s restaurant, The Bricktop Grill, Anderson smiles, despite the tears welling up in her eyes, as she starts talking about Kelsey.
“My biological dad isn’t in my life at all. He doesn’t call; he doesn’t check up, nothing like that, so I never considered him my dad,” Anderson said. “When I was 3, I asked Kelsey if he’d be my dad, and he said yes. He’s done a lot of things. He’s always stayed around, and that really meant something to me.”
Anderson credits Kelsey for helping her graduate from high school.
“During middle school and my freshman and sophomore year, he was on me about school and how important it was,” she said. “I thought he was just trying to parent me, but I learned after I failed a couple of classes.”
Even when Anderson was doing online classes because of the pandemic, she recalls Kelsey getting her up early to get ready for school as if she were going in person.
“There was a whole schedule set so we would get our school stuff done and stay motivated,” Anderson said.
Despite not being her biological father, Kelsey said he always wanted Anderson to do better than he did, and that’s why he pushed her to do well in school.
The most meaningful moment to Anderson was looking up in the stands during her graduation from Highland High School and seeing Kelsey sitting next to her mom and family members, cheering for her and watching her accept her diploma.
Stepping into the role of “dad” for Anderson was easy, Kelsey said.
“She was a social butterfly and always needed attention,” Kelsey said. “I would push her on a bike or teach her how to swim. She was like my little buddy.”
As Anderson got older, the two bonded over music, she said.
“There’s a lot of musical bands that her and her friends didn’t know about, and I would show those to her,” Kelsey said.
“I’ve showed him some bands too,” Anderson added. “That was a big thing we bonded on.”
Kelsey and Anderson also got matching tattoos that symbolize their love for music.
“It’s just little moments like that brought us closer. Blood doesn’t matter as long as you make the effort to be in someone’s life,” Anderson explained. “That’s what really mattered to me growing up. He’s all I’ve ever known, and I don’t care about anybody else. He’s my dad.”
The foster dad
If there were a revamp of the television show “Full House,” Matt Berrelez and his family would be a shoo-in for the role.
Berrelez, 36, and his wife, Yvette Berrelez, 38, are parents to three children: Aaliya, 13, Diego, 11, and Jasmyn, 8, along with a large furry St. Bernard named Boss. In addition to his three biological kids, Berrelez is a foster dad to four kids, ranging in age from 8 to 11 years.
The couple always wanted more kids, but with Yvette’s pregnancies being so hard, they opted to foster kids. The family has been fostering kids for about two years.
Coming from difficult backgrounds, the foster kids tend to take up a lot of Berrelez’s attention and time, however, the dad makes sure he does special things with his biological kids like going out for ice cream and other one-on-one things.
“We don’t want our kids to miss out on the time we would be normally spending with them, so I make sure to get that alone time when we can,” Berrelez explained. “We can’t do it all the time, but I think they notice that when we do.”
Berrelez also takes the foster kids on special outings, which the kids love and cherish.
“They love Matt,” Yvette said. “All of them are like, ‘I get to see Matt first today.’ They love being around him.”
“I don’t know why, because I am the least affectionate,” Berrelez added with a laugh.
Forming a connection with the kids the family fosters, one would think that it would be heart wrenching when they leave, but Berrelez says it’s just the opposite.
“It’s a good thing because the whole time they’ve wanted to be with their dad or mom,” he said. “It’s almost a rewarding or success thing. We’ve had them and we did what we needed to do, their family did what they needed to do and the kids did what they needed to do. It’s what we’ve been working towards.”
The law enforcement dad
“I remember he was 13 or 14, and I asked him, ‘Steve, what do you want to do when you grow up?’ And he said, ‘Well, I just want to help people,’” Dave Reams said.
At the time, the teenage Steve Reams wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to do that, but he’s achieved that goal by serving Weld County as its sheriff.
“He worked his way up, and one day he told me that he was going to run for sheriff,” Dave Reams said. “I think he’s pretty much lived his dream.”
Sitting outside on a cool evening, the Reams men — Dave, 74, Steve, 44, Drew, 24, ZJ, 14, and Carson, 9, talk about raising kids as well as being kids in a law enforcement family.
“These guys have only ever known me as the sheriff or being in law enforcement, so it’s just what is part of our family. I am just ‘Dad’.” Steve Reams said. “The hardest part is trying to juggle the draw of the job versus trying to stay engaged with these guys. It’s just a matter of leaving work at work. But they all know what the job is about.”
Drew Reams, Steve’s son, is a deputy at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, following in his father’s footsteps.
“I started when I was 20, and it’s all I’ve ever really known,” Drew said. “I try to emulate my life and working style to what he does. He’s a cool dude.”
Soon-to-be high school freshman ZJ is looking to take another path and is interested in welding, while elementary school student, Carson, loves the intricacies and challenges of math.
“I never hoped for the kids to go into law enforcement, none of them, including Drew. All three are very smart and can do whatever they want. I just want them to be happy and do something they enjoy,” Steve said. “When Drew told me he was going to start working in the prison, I was proud of him, but I was also apprehensive. You always want your kids to do something different than what you do. I look at the landscape around law enforcement now, and I can’t imagine going into the job now. I look at how tough that career can be on a person and a family.”
Having a dad in law enforcement can create some interesting situations with your peers.
“There was always some kind of weird stuff that we would encounter every once in a while, like a kid would be on the football team and maybe his dad was in jail,” Steve said. “So, we’d have those conversations and making sure (his sons) understand what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Despite being divorced from Steve’s mom, Dave was a hands-on dad who liked to spend time with his son going out backpacking, road trips and ski trips, something Steve has continued to do with Drew, ZJ and Carson.
“I think it’s been passed along to his boys. They are a lot like their dad,” Dave said. “He’s got a good family. He’s brought up three boys, and I am proud of all of them.”
Parenting is hard for anyone, but when you get to sit back and see your kids be successful, it really makes the journey that much sweeter.
“Everything is a new adventure, everyday. It’s just awesome to see their achievements,” Steve said. “They take if farther than what you can.”
The firefighter dad
On a Sunday afternoon, two little girls patiently wait for return of the Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Station 1 engine and crew.
After pulling in, the girls’ mom, Sara Matzke, gives them the OK to run around the other side to meet their dad, engineer Mike Matzke, 34.
For some kids, a trip to the fire station is filled with excitement and wonder. For the Matzke girls— Brianna, 5, and Katelyn, 6, — it’s their second home.
Unlike most jobs where dads go to work and come home the same day, the schedule of a firefighter is vastly different.
“It’s a really good balance. I am at work for two days, so 48 hours straight. But then I have four days off, 96 hours, so I get so much more time at home instead of a broken up day,” Mike Matzke said. “Being home for those whole four days gives me much more time so it works out really well.”
The girls are also able to come and visit their dad at the station while he is on shift, which works out well during holidays that Matzke is scheduled to work.
“They will come to the station, and we will have a big family dinner,” Matzke said. “It’s cool that we can do that, and they don’t really miss out on anything.”
The combination of being a firefighter and parent has given Matzke a lot more compassion toward families with children during calls.
“Once you have your own kids, it puts a different spin on things and how you think about things,” Matzke said. “My compassion level grew once I had my own kids.”
Coming from a family of all boys, Matzke was excited to have an all-girl family.
“I was hoping for the full opposite, and it has been great,” he said. “There are people that are like, ‘I hope my son grows up to be a firefighter,’ and if they are interested in it, that’s great. There’s lots of female firefighters, but I don’t think there’s any pressure.”
One piece of advice that Matzke has for new dads is to have patience — with themselves and their kids.
“It can be hard if I work a very busy shift, and we are up all night and I get very little sleep. Coming home and being careful to maybe my crabbiness is important,” he said. “I just have to remember that I am overtired, and they miss me and want nothing more than to hang out with me.”
The girl dad
The term “girl dad” was coined by basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, when he was asked about having his fourth child. In response to a question about how the basketball star felt about having yet another daughter, Bryant responded, “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
Since then, the term has become popular way to describe dads of girls who want their daughters to have the same rights and opportunities as boys.
One thing being a girl dad has taught Matt Estrin, owner of 477 Distilling, is that he knows less about women now than he did 11 years ago when his first daughter was born. Estin is dad to Samantha, 11, and Riley, 8.
“I absolutely love raising girls,” Estrin said. “When my second daughter was born, everybody asked if we were bummed that we didn’t have a boy, and I was not. I really love being a dad of girls. There’s a very special connection between dads and girls that’s hard to explain until you have one.
“We have a male dog, so I got that,” he added, laughing.
Estrin describes his role not only as dad, but to be his daughters’ protector, hero and “everything to them.”
Not having any boys to compare things to, Estrin feels that raising girls requires more emotional support than boys do.
“My two daughters require a lot of emotional connection. They are big into physical touch, so there’s lots of hugs and holding hands,” Estrin said.
While the girls may need more emotional support, Estrin holds them up to the same standards that he would if he had boys. The family even has their own mantra to reinforce their standards: “Work hard, be nice to people.”
“In our house we don’t allow excuses. If something is hard, you work hard at it. If you are having trouble, you practice more and work at it,” he explained. “We just try to instill in them at a young age that they can do anything they want.”
One of the big traditions in the Estrin house is attending local father-daughter dances.
“It’s something my kids look forward to every year,” he said. “It happens in late January or February, but it will be the middle of July and my daughter will see a dress and say, ‘That will be a great dress for the father-daughter dance.’ It’s a big deal for them.”
When the pandemic put the kibosh on the dance last year, Estrin rented a space, got a DJ and threw his own father-daughter dance to continue the tradition.
Like many parents raising kids in this difficult day and age, Estrin tries to teach them to think for themselves and be their own person.
“I want them to make good decisions when it comes to the relationships they are going to be in and the decisions they are going to make that will impact the rest of their lives,” Estrin said. “They are really good kids and appreciate authority and have a good sense of morality and values. I am approaching the future with a lot of confidence with my kids.”
The boy dad
The flip side to being a girl dad is being a dad of all boys.
The Tribune reached out to Kevin McFarling, marketing coordinator of the Greeley Stampede, to get his take on what life is like raising two boys, Gavyn, 9, and Ethan, 6.
“Over the years, they have taught me a lot,” McFarling said. “Really, with raising any kids, it takes patience. Children require massive amounts of patience.”
Learning to be lighthearted and enjoy the experiences life gives you is another lesson McFarling has learned from his boys.
“They are such goofy little dudes, and they don’t take much of anything seriously. They make sure they remind me of that often,” he said. “They taught me to appreciate the smaller things, like when we are on walks or hikes, collecting rocks or bugs, or just the little things that don’t really take a lot of energy but really have a big impact on them.”
One thing that McFarling was surprised about while raising his boys is the amount of questions they ask.
“The amount of questions they ask is incredible. Every night, there is probably at least a half hour after we read stories that I am in the room with them and they ask me the most random questions they can think of,” McFarling said, chuckling. “It’s amazing to see how their minds work and what’s developing and what they are thinking about. It’s just nonstop questions.”
McFarling’s patience was definitely tested when the family took a five-hour drive to the sand dunes, filled with questions from the boys.
“At one point we were like, ‘Can you just chill out and relax and accept it for what it is?’” McFarling said. “But then you have to appreciate them for trying to understand things.”
McFarling and his sons enjoy gardening, spending time outdoors and visiting the Stampede together — even though McFarling has to remind them that he is in fact not a cowboy.
“My youngest was asking me how to lasso a bull, and I was like, ‘I have no idea, I have never done it before,’” McFarling said. “And he was like, ‘But you work for the rodeo,’ and I am like, ‘I know, but I’m not a cowboy.’”
As girl dads like Estrin strive to raise strong, self-assured women, McFarling is working to teach his boys how to be gentlemen.
“We want them to understand boundaries and understand that people have different views,” McFarling said. “Not to judge people and be accepting. One of our big goals is to be overall accepting of people. We really strive to include them in as many conversations as we can so that they understand that our little world that we have isn’t like everybody else’s little world. We need to be able to accept that and appreciate that.”