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The best advice comes from dads

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Greensburg attorney and performer John Noble says his 98-year-old father provides advice more by his example than through his words. Here, Noble performs during the 2019 Westmoreland Night of the Stars high school musical showcase. After 23 years organizing the two-night annual event, he is handing over the reins to his daughter, Elly Noble Carr.
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Endy Reindl
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Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, speaks at an event. Monzo’s dad taught him to not sweat the small stuff.
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Veteran Mt. Pleasant Borough policeman George Grippo, center, is sworn in Monday as the borough’s new police chief by Mayor Jerry Lucia (right.) Councilman Jack Caruso is holding the Bible. Lucia’s father instilled the thought that honesty is always the best policy.
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CEO Steve Simon stands outside the YMCA of Laurel Highlands. His father taught him to stay active and stay strong.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Aaron Hollis, director of education for West Overton Village, says his father stressed the importance of education.
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WQED documentarian Rick Sebak got some advice about eating in restaurants from his father. This year, Sebak and Wholey’s Fish Market teamed up on the the Sea-bak Shrimp Burger for Lent.
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Kevin Snider, chancellor at Penn State New Kensington, says his father told him that failure is just another step on the road to success.
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“Never wrestle a pig” was advice River City Brass marketing associate Andrew Blight got from his father. It means to keep your own dignity even if others lose theirs.
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C.T. Fields and Alexandra Naples provide musical entertainment during the Greensburg Art Center’s annual members picnic.

“Father knows best.”

Members of the Greatest Generation and older Baby Boomers probably remember the phrase as the title of a sitcom that aired from 1954 to 1960. “Father” was mild-mannered insurance salesman Jim Anderson, played by Robert Young, who offered advice whenever one of his children — nicknamed Princess, Bud and Kitten — had a problem.

And Ward Cleaver sure knew what to say whenever The Beaver messed up.

Other TV dads also had plenty of wisdom to dispense, such as:

• “Don’t you know when you make a mistake, you ‘fess up to it. Trying to cover it up would only make it worse.” — Carl Otis Winslow, “Family Matters”

• “You know we have a lot of funny notions born inside of us, Half-Pint. The funniest is that we’re supposed to hide the way we feel about people. Let me tell you, everybody wants to know that they are loved, or needed, or cared about.” — Charles Ingalls, “Little House on the Prairie”

• “Well, there’s no free lunch, Brandon. You get what you pay for in this world.” — Jim Walsh, “Beverly Hills, 90210”

In real life as on television, the giving of advice has always been one of dad’s most important jobs.

In celebration of Father’s Day, here is some real-life wisdom from real-life dads.

Get the special

“Our family seldom if ever went out for dinner as I was growing up in Bethel Park, but my father was a salesman who traveled around the tri-state area selling industrial pipes, valves and fittings, and he often had to take customers to lunch,” says WQED documentarian Rick Sebak. “So Dad knew restaurants, but I was pretty green at the whole eating-out scene as I got ready to go off to North Carolina for college in the early 1970s.

“Maybe it was in a diner or small family eatery on the way to school that he noticed my hesitancy with a menu, and he told me, ‘In a restaurant, it’s always smart to get the special of the day. It’ll probably be a little fresher, the cook won’t be tired of making it, and it’s often the best thing they’ve got,’” he says. “It’s common sense, practical knowledge, but it’s a bit of everyday advice that I’ve never forgotten. And I think of him always as I do just what he suggested: Get the special.”

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Keep your dignity

“When I was growing up, my father (Reynold Blight) used to tell me, ‘never wrestle a pig,’” says Andrew Blight, marketing associate with River City Brass.

”This was sage advice. His reasoning was that if you wrestled a pig, whether you won or lost, you’d wind up covered in mud and either way the pig would enjoy it,” he says.

“I think it’s good to remember that not all fights are worth winning. Depending on the opponent, it might be better to walk away with clean clothes and a bit of dignity. I’ve since learned that this is a common bit of folk wisdom, but when I was a kid, I thought my dad had made it up (even though we didn’t live on a farm),” Blight says.

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Honesty is the best policy

Jerry Lucia, Mt. Pleasant’s long-standing mayor and fire chief, easily recalls the advice his father, Patrick Lucia, gave him.

“My father always taught me to be truthful and honest with whatever you do and whatever you are involved in,” he says.

It struck a chord, and is advice he passed along to his own son and daughter, he says.

•••

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Gabriel E. Monzo Sr., executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, is known for his folksy manner and good sense of humor. Those qualities may have been passed down from father to son.

Monzo says his father had one piece of advice that always stuck with him.

“Don’t worry about things you can’t control,” Gabriel Monzo told his son.

And why was that a good piece of advice? “Air shows!”

The annual Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow is planned months in advance. Monzo’s father’s advice may have helped him prepare for the many uncontrollable factors it can bring, from weather to crowd size.

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Beware of snakes

“My father’s advice was simple — believe in yourself and remember that failure is just a lesson in how to get it right next time,” says Kevin Snider, chancellor at Penn State New Kensington. “He also told me to stay away from snakes (I grew up in Africa). Both pieces of advice have served me well.”

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‘Wash the fruit’

Greensburg attorney, Westmoreland Night of the Stars founder and “Almost Sinatra” singer John Noble says his 98-year-old father, whom he refers to as “Big John” Noble, is the strong and silent type: one of 15 kids in an Italian family (“Our name was Noviello”), a Normandy Invasion veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

The elder Noble is “not the type to ever give advice,” his son says. “I learned from him by example — a daily sense of humor, creating the party, living life on your own terms, not turning your head to wrongdoing, giving back to your community and the value of lifelong friendships.

“And this regular gem, ‘always wash the fruit.’”

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You can do it

Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra executive director Endy Reindl says, “The best quote/advice I can think of from my dad (that’s appropriate for print) is: ‘Always know that you can do it, I love you, and we (your mother and myself) will always have your back.’”

Makes you wonder what inappropriate advice dad gave, doesn’t it?

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Don’t give up

Musician C.T. Fields lost his own dad when he was young, but says he considers his father-in-law Jay Naples to be his father.

“He is a good man who deserves all the recognition he can be given,” Fields says, adding that the best advice Naples ever gave him is, “Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever stop doing what you love.”

It’s come in handy, given that Greensburg natives Fields and his wife Alexandra Naples perform as the country duo Willow Hill and as half of the group Lovebettie. Not giving up (and a good measure of talent) has taken the duo from local music venues to touring nationally and internationally on up to 200 dates a year.

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Be kind to others

“The thing that probably sticks out the most is to treat people with kindness and respect,” Scott Haines says of his father’s advice.

The late Alan Haines also told his son, the executive director of Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, to consider that one never knows what someone else is going through.

“Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. That will come back to you in spades,” Haines says his father advised him.

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Value of an education

“The best advice my father has ever given me is simple: work hard for an education,” says Aaron Hollis Jr., event organizer and director of education at West Overton Museums near Scottdale.

“It may sound cliché, but that simple advice and his belief in my schooling has helped me through six years of post-secondary education. My dad, Aaron Hollis, is a blue-collar worker just like his father and grandfather. All three of them were very hard workers, but he wanted something different for his own children. Perhaps it’s because he never had the chance to go himself, but our schooling has always been important to him,” Hollis says.

“Now that I’m finished with graduate school and doing a job I love, I couldn’t be more grateful,” he adds.

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Staying strong

“The best advice my father, Albert, gave me was being a great role model and to live a healthy lifestyle,” says Steve Simon, CEO of the YMCA of Laurel Highlands.

“My dad was extremely active, exercising every day, including playing racquetball several times a week into his late 70s. He ate a healthy diet and did not drink. I believe by mimicking him I have been able to stay very healthy and active,” says Simon.

Sounds like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401 or [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels. Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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