Author Kent Nerburn once wrote, “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” We’ve written a lot about moms over the years, including a lovely story in this issue, but for this edition, Inside Napa Valley asked our readers to nominate the best dads around. Here are four of our favorites, men who demonstrate endless dedication and responsibility and show that fatherhood is an expression of character and devotion.
Alexander J. Myers, a local real estate attorney, has built his career on integrity and advocacy. From the moment his son Ford was born, Alex’s devotion to family has been admirable and inspirational according to his wife, Leslie Myers.
“He’s so great. I can’t say enough wonderful things about him. I think everyone is scared to become a parent because you have no idea how it’s going to change your life or how you’re going to adapt to raising another human,” said Myers. “But Alex slid into the role much better and quicker than I did. When we got home from the hospital, Alex did at least 10 loads of laundry, made dinners, got up with Ford every time I did throughout the nights, set alarms for my medications and let me nap.”
Alex’s dedication to his wife and son is unmeasurable. Moments of pure dedication can be captured within a glimpse. Weather he is taking out the trash, loading laundry or taking his son for hikes from his youth, Alex has developed a bond that will last a lifetime.
“I really think Ford is the luckiest kid alive,” said Leslie. “He has a dad who will always be his best friend, always support him, always buy him the new, fancy gadgets/electronics, and always protect him in a real, but also hilarious ways.”
Through his humorous antics and lovable spirit, Alex’s commitment to the community and his family is impressive. Alex plays an extremely active role in his community. He is involved with the Napa Sunrise Rotary Club, he coaches the Vintage High School Mock Trial team, participates in the Napa Chamber of Commerce, is an active member of the Napa Business Network, a board member of the Napa County Wine Library Association, and was appointed to serve on the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Citizens’ Advisory Committee.
A role model for the community and a true professional, Alex always makes time for his son Ford.
“He works from home on Thursdays to be with him. He’ll set up a makeshift office in our dining room, put Ford in his bouncy chair, and put him on the table next to his computer,” his wife said. “He also has a pack-n-play in his office (permanently set up), in case he brings him in. He calls him his legal assistant, and it’s so cute.”
Love can be expressed within a smile, a gesture or a sound from a young child and for Alex Myers, love is all around him.
“Ford loves him. His eyes widen and he kicks his limbs like a crazy man when he hears Alex’s voice. Even when he was a newborn. Alex can calm him when others find him to be inconsolable. Daddy is certainly his favorite, and I’m okay with that, because he’s my favorite too,” said Leslie Myers.
For Michael Garibaldi, fatherhood was an honor.
“Becoming a father has meant responsibility, encouragement, love, dedication, patience, and pride,” said Garibaldi. “Being a father is so rewarding from the simplest things like seeing them smile to the love they show in return. It’s an indescribable feeling. You do things you never thought you would do, like let her paint your nails or do your makeup or go on fair rides that make you sick.”
As a heating and air conditioning professional for the Napa Valley Unified School District, Garibaldi has always been a role model for his children. Whether educating his daughter how to change the oil in her car, or teaching her how to do yardwork , fish and BBQ, the guidance that he provides on a daily basis is deeply treasured.
“My dad has shown me what having a father is like; the love and protection that every child should feel,” said Elexis Garibaldi. “He has been an amazing example to my little sisters Ava and Emmalin and myself, showing us how a true man treats a women and how a father should treat their children. My dad inspires me to want to be a better person and does this all by example.”
A role model to his children, Garibaldi’s love and commitment toward his family is inspiring.
“My life has changed dramatically,” he said. “I went from a single man at 36, to a husband and a father, to a beautiful wife and three girls.”
Garibaldi’s endless devotion and capacity to love his children unconditionally has made a tremendous impact.
“He is so special to me because even when he didn’t have to, he chose to love me. He chose to be my dad,” said Elexis. “He proudly took responsibility for me without hesitation. The very day after my biological father chose to give me up, my dad spent his lunch break at the Napa courts getting everything in order he would need to adopt me. He never wanted me to feel unwanted. My dad always wanted me to feel like I fit into our family. He even went as far as both of us spitting in our hand, shaking hands with each other then licking our hands. So gross.”
A father figure to admire, Michael Garibaldi’s love holds no bounds.
“My dad has never made me feel like I didn’t fit into our family. He includes me in everything. He makes a point to go to all my school meetings and pushes me to be the best me I can be,” his daughter said. “He has sacrificed so much for his family. He has given up his hunting days many times to be able to attend school functions. He is extremely dedicated to being a great father.”
With a devotion to his children, faith and dreams, Michael Phelps proved to be an inspirational parent.
“My dad is now retired, but everything he has touched over the years has proven to be a success. He owned and operated his own dental laboratory here in Napa for over 42 years which was his main profession. He also cultivated a vineyard on our Silverado Trail property in the ‘80s and won several medals for his Verdian Cellars Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc,” said Jenny Phelps.
A father and friend, Phelps’ ability to engage his children from youth to adulthood is admirable. From a memorable trip to Italy, to family camping and fishing expeditions, special time with his children has always been a priority.
“Dad gives us quality time in so many ways. He is our best friend. He is a laid-back guy and loves to goof around. Most of the time we just hang out and crack stupid jokes that leave us in stitches and sometimes gasping for air,” his children wrote of him. “We always work on projects together such as building a new deck, or pouring a slab of concrete (which also proves for good laughs)! Our dad is also a great dancer, east coast swing mostly, and putting on old records and cutting a rug is always a good time. Since us kids have grown up and have children of our own, it’s incredibly special to watch him with his grandchildren. It’s nostalgic.”
Parenthood can have its challenges, but ultimately, the experience of raising children and watching them grow into adults that you can be proud of and inspired by is the greatest reward of all.
“Being a parent is the most challenging and rewarding experience I can think of,” Phelps said. “Now is the time for grandkids. They are a gift.”
His journey as a father has been one of strength, compassion and love.
“Being a father, it is wonderful to see how my children have made a life for themselves, given me grandchildren and show me every day that God must really like me to give me such a wonderful family,” said Phelps.
Today, with the adoration of his children and a supportive wife by his side, Phelps’ legacy will be filled with love and memories that will last a lifetime.
“My dad is the dad that everyone wishes they could have. And I say that in all sincerity. He is a proud father and worked so hard to provide for us. He is the most generous, understanding, patient, loving, and supportive man that I have ever met. He is a follower of Jesus and has a deep faith,” Jenny Phelps said.
For Jesus Solis, working two jobs, supporting his family and providing unconditional love has set an example for his children.
“My father is a winemaker for Beringer during the day, and in the afternoon he works for his own company called A1 Yard Service — a landscaping company,” said Solis’ daughter, Maria Fuimaono. “My father is the type of person that will always lend a helping hand even if he is tired and has no energy to do it. He always believes in the good in people and is compassionate of others. He has always made sure that my sisters and I have always had what we needed to succeed. He has made sure to give us the dreams that we needed in order to go to school and now be successful young women and good examples for our younger sisters and community.”
Working two jobs and carrying the weight of a family can be challenging, yet Solis does so with pride. Coming to the United States to succeed and build a legacy for his children, the tenacious father started his own company, became a winemaker and captured every moment he could with his family.
“I work two jobs but I try to spend time with my family,” he said. “Time is precious when I am with my wife and daughters. Work to me is only the means to provide for my family, my ultimate goal is my family.”
With a passion for family and a strong work ethic, he is a role model for his children.
“My dad has always been an inspiration since I was younger. The journey has been hard, but I know it has been all worthwhile,” said Fuimaono. “Now I follow his example and myself work two jobs and have always been a hard worker. I know that all the years of seeing him leave at 6:30 a.m. to go to Beringer and return for dinner at 4:30 p.m. and later leave again to A1 Yard Service all had an impact on me and my sisters and that is something that we will always remember about my dad, but most importantly that he did it for us.”
Following a dream is an admirable quality, but for Jesus Solis, his dreams became a reality and the job that he holds dearest to his heart is the role of a father.
“Being a father has allowed me to fulfill the plan of God. Being a father is a joyful satisfaction of life; where responsibility for other human beings is one of the main ingredients in the recipe for successful children,” he said.
Fatherhood is a privilege and for Alex Myers, Michael Garibaldi, Michael Phelps and Jesus Solis, the role is an honor. Without hesitation or complaint, these four amazing men of Napa County have dedicated their lives to their family and are a beautiful example of what it means to be a father.