What a Father Means to Me

In a post-Father’s Day reflection, a Fenwick senior remembers his late father – and thanks his big brother.

Fenwick soon-to-be senior Patrick Feldmeier wrote this essay for the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Patrick was honored, along with his older brother, Danny (Class of 2018), on June 6 at the Union League Club in Chicago.

By Patrick Feldmeier ’20

“One, two, three: Hi Daddy, we love you and we miss you.” (Mom always adds, ‘You’re in my heart, Sweetie.’)

Patrick (left) and Danny Feldmeier with their Dad, Bob, before his untimely death seven years ago.

These are the words my family says after grace every time we sit down for dinner. And simultaneously look at the open seat at the head of the table. Our hearts yearn for the man that God called up to Heaven seven years ago: Dad. It sends a shiver up my spine saying the word out loud, yet his presence still resonates in my family.

Every once in a while, his cologne can be smelled from his closet. His faded blue Ralph Lauren hat still hangs on the wall in my mom’s bedroom. His 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee may have finally been towed, but his K-Swiss “dad shoes” rest untouched in our mudroom. To say that Bob Feldmeier is a role model to me is an absolute understatement. Words will never express how much I miss him; how much I need him in my life; or how much I love him. Through my actions, I attempt to be like him every day.

Their father’s faded cap and “dad shoes” still can be found in the Feldmeier’s Western Springs home.

As a partner at Schiff Hardin, long hours seemed to swallow his work-week. Yet, somehow, someway, he always had time to play catch or take us to watch a White Sox game. After little-league games, my dad would take my brother and me out to “men’s dinners,” where he would teach us lessons such as, “It’s ok to admit it is cold, but it is not manly to complain about the cold.” He was also an avid Notre Dame alumnus and taught us the essence of hard work. The impression he left on me is what is most important. Through watching the way he treated my mom, my siblings and me, and kept God as a focal point in his life, I truly learned what it meant to be a father. His etiquette, manners and gentlemanliness are values I strive to model because I want my children to look up at me the way I look up to my Dad.

My father’s ultimate goal was for his family to live a life like his, which includes strong family bonds and an excellent, Catholic education. He continued to set an example of how to be a father and how to find strength through tragedy by protecting us until the very end.

Dad’s Gift of Peace

Robert Feldmeier
(1965-2012)

When he was first diagnosed with melanoma, he told my mother, “Do not tell the kids about my disease. I want to give them the gift of peace.” He truly was the perfect role model for a dad. It was more important to him to keep us happy and successful in life than for us to crumble under fear. His ultimate goal was for his family to live a life like his. Instead of succumbing to anger after his death, I honored his memory by achieving goals and setting the bar high for myself. I aspire to attend the University of Notre Dame, like him, and to provide for my family the same way that he did. His spirit lives on in my heart every day, and every day I thank God for one of the greatest gifts He has ever given me: my Dad. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from my Dad was that a man is not solely defined by his career and accomplishments, but by his display of love to his family. Perhaps that was why he was able to stay strong during his last days, because he truly had reached his ultimate goal of success in life: to love and be loved by his family.

After my Dad passed away from melanoma, great responsibility fell on my mother’s shoulders. With three children still in grade school and one daughter in high school, my mom devoted her time to making sure we would stay on track.

Dan the Man

College sophomore Danny Feldmeier ’18 is an Evans Scholar at the University of Notre Dame.

Being the youngest, and only in fourth grade at the time, I desperately needed another father figure in my life. This was when my brother, Danny, stepped up to be the man of the house. He may only be two years older than me, but after watching the way our father raised us, Danny knew exactly how to be a father figure. He raised me to act like a man — more specifically, to act like our Dad. When Danny entered his freshman year last year at the University of Notre Dame, it was my turn to be the man of the house.

To answer the question, what does a father mean to me? A true father is one that can be depended on in times of sorrow and in times of joy. My Dad taught me everything I need to be a man and a good father in the future by the way he loved his family. Due to the lessons learned from my Dad during our time together, and my brother’s ability to fill his shoes, my Dad and brother ideally exemplify what a father means to me.

About the Author

Pat Feldmeier ’20

Patrick Feldmeier is entering his senior year at Fenwick High School, where he is an Honor Roll/National Honor Society student and president of the Class of 2020. “Feldie” also plays on the Friars’ football team (he is a tight end) and rugby team. He lives in Western Springs, IL (St. John of the Cross Parish & School) and is hoping for acceptance this coming fall into the University of Notre Dame, where his Dad went and his Evans Scholar brother, Danny ’18, will be a sophomore. Their older sisters, Kelsey ’14 and Meghan ’16, also are proud Friars. Kelsey is an alumna of ND (Class of 2018; CPA ’19), and Meghan is on pace to graduate from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) next spring.

‘Death to Self:’ Bishop Barron’s Calling Began at Fenwick

By John Paulett, Fenwick Theology Teacher

Editor’s note: Monday, January 28, is the feast day of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Catholic Church and patron of students.

Three years ago Bishop Barron (left) reconnected with Fr. Thomas Poulsen, O.P., his former teacher at Fenwick.

Readers interested in exploring the excellent videos of Bishop Robert Barron, the recipient of the Lumen Tranquillum Award from Fenwick High School this year, might start with the short presentation he gives on the man he describes as his hero: St. Thomas Aquinas. The bishop explains how it was at Fenwick, when he was 14 years old, that a theology teacher first introduced him to St. Thomas Aquinas. He describes it as a “bell-ringer” event and goes on to explain how it changed the course of his life. He seems to suggest that this seminal moment led him, through the grace of God, into the priesthood.

Besides his description of the encounter in his freshman theology class, there is another deep Fenwick link in Barron’s explanation of Aquinas. He lists three ideas, which he believes characterize the thought and teaching of Thomas. It is interesting to note how closely the three themes he describes resemble three main ideas characteristic of a Fenwick education. Many high schools talk about the “grad at grad,” or what a graduate will know and be. I would suggest that these three concepts, reflective of the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, might be a good description of a Fenwick student after four years on Washington Boulevard.

Bishop Barron first explains in the video that Aquinas believed there was one truth. He explains that people of Thomas’s time (we might note of our time as well) often thought there were two truths — scientific and religious. Aquinas refused to accept that. He knew that there could be only one truth. If science and religion seemed to be in conflict, there was a problem in either the scientific or the theological method. More thought and study were required.

‘Dominicans are not afraid of reason; we embrace it.’

Barron calls St. Thomas Aquinas his hero.

At Fenwick, we sometimes express this same idea as, “Don’t leave your brain at the door of the church (or the theology classroom.)” It is a characteristic of Dominican education to apply rigorous study and thought to every aspect of our education, including our religious belief. We are not afraid of reason; we embrace it. We are convinced that reason and critical examination will lead to the Creator, not contradict creation.

And so we teach Fenwick students to question, to wonder, and to apply the lessons they learn from science and philosophy to their faith. Bishop Barron reassures us that Aquinas had no fear of reason. Neither should we.

Radical Humanism

Secondly, Barron describes the Thomistic understanding that we are contingent beings. This is a fancy way of saying that we depend on something else for our existence. That thing that is the First Cause, what does not depend on anything else for its existence, is what we call God. It was this explanation of the Proofs of the Existence of God that first rang the bell of 14-year-old Bob Barron. [A Western Springs resident, he transferred to Benet Academy in Lisle.]

I often say to myself, “There is a God and it is not me.” When we recognize that we are dependent on a power beyond ourselves (12-step programs would call it a Higher Power,) we are on the path to faith. We begin this journey with the destruction of self-centeredness and ego. Christian theology calls it “death to self.” In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces great fruit.”

Continue reading “‘Death to Self:’ Bishop Barron’s Calling Began at Fenwick”

Remembering Arthur T. Dalton, Jr. ’42

Fennwick High School received an early Christmas present in mid-December: a gift from an anonymous donor in the amount of $3 million cash! “This is the first leadership gift toward the second phase of our Centennial Campaign,” praises President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. “The money will be used to help construct the Centennial addition,” Father Peddicord explains, “and the new dining hall will be named for alumnus Arthur Dalton, Jr., who was a proud member of the Friars’ Class of 1942.” Mr. Dalton passed away in 2003 at age 80.

Who was Art Dalton? According to the ’42 Blackfriars yearbook, he was a member of St. Eulalia Parish in Maywood, IL. A versatile student-athlete in high school, Art participated in basketball, boxing and track for three of his four years at Fenwick; he played tennis (doubles) as a junior and senior and tried football and track as a freshman. He also wrote for The Wick student newspaper as a junior and was a member of the Pan-American Club as a senior.

Later in life, Mr. Dalton became a resident of Western Springs, IL. He was a husband and family man: married to Regina (nee Frawley) for 56 years; the couple had four children — Thomas, Cathie, Nancy and Daniel. The latter, a medical doctor, is a parent of three Fenwick graduates: Ryan ’03, Kyle ’05 and Katie ’06. (Art’s younger brother, Ray, also was a Friar: Class of ’44.)

Professionally, Art Dalton was president of Park Corp. of Barrington, IL, and executive vice president of Jewel Food Stores. Civically, he was Chairman of the Board at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, IL, and chairman of the Westlake Health Foundation. In his spare time, Dalton also was an avid golfer, with memberships at La Grange Country Club and the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

This $3 million gift made in honor of Dalton matches the largest gift in school history. The new Arthur T. Dalton, Jr. ’42 Dining Hall (see artist’s rendering, below) will be housed within the proposed Centennial Building addition. The new building is estimated to be a $25-million construction initiative that will dramatically expand and enhance the facilities at Fenwick. One of the most visible and beautiful of all spaces within the new building, the dining hall will provide not only a much-needed new dining area and healthier environment for students, but it will also serve as a gathering space for alumni events, board meetings and community social events.

For more information, please go to www.fenwickfriars.com/fenwick2029/.