Douglas A. Wilson, surrounded by three of his children, Erin, 23, Thomas, 16 and Lainn, 12, was named Columbia County Father of the Year by The Columbia County News-Times and Freedom Ford based on a letter submitted by Thomas.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Thomas Wilson summed up how many kids will see their dad today - as larger than life superheroes.
"To me, my Dad is "The Dad of the Universe," the 16-year-old wrote in letter describing why his father is the best in Columbia County.
Though he may never reach universal stardom, Wilson of Evans was named Columbia County Father of the Year by The Columbia County News Times and Freedom Ford in Thomson.
"It was a shock," Wilson said. "It is great to know your kids appreciate you. I think I have a good relationship with all of my children. For (Thomas) to take the initiative to do that, and to put it into words on paper, it means a lot."
The newspaper received numerous entries from kids who adamantly expressed why their dads were the best for the job.
The reasons ranged from the small details - "he taught me how to ride my bike," wrote 7-year-old Veda Berg - to extraordinary acts of fatherhood - "Reason one is because he loved me enough to adopt me," wrote Ashleigh Lee, 12.
In addition to his name being added to a permanent plaque inside the News Times office, Wilson will receive a free oil, filter and lube change from Freedom Ford. As his nominator, Thomas will be presented with a $100 savings bond and a 7-inch portable television also from Freedom Ford.
In his nomination, Thomas wrote about a scary time for his family during December of 2002. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and doctors told Wilson and his wife, Linda, that Thomas might not live.
During that month, Wilson spent only seven nights in his own bed, spending most of the time at the hospital with Thomas.
"It was coming down to where I was almost about to die," Thomas said. "They had the (treatment) papers. (Dad) got down on the floor and started signing them and getting them all written out ... And they were able to save my life."
Wilson, who is a civilian telecommunications specialist at Fort Gordon, is the father of five children: Shannon, 30, of Virginia; Colleen, 29, of Florida; and Erin, 23, Thomas, 16, and Lainn, 12.
"I've seen him be there for all of us, especially my two older sisters, and also, being in the middle, with my younger brothers," Erin said. "I have had the privilege to see both sides. He has definitely taught me personally a lot about just supporting and encouraging and listening and being there.
"I graduated this year from UGA and had a lot of graduate school auditions in New York and Boston," Erin said. "He went with me to both of those events and was a real source of encouragement for me."
Wilson, a public high school math teacher and basketball coach in what he calls a former life, has coached all of his five kids on basketball teams and is an active member of his church as a Sunday school teacher, church officer and boy scout leader.
But Wilson doesn't see himself as different from any other father dedicated to his family.
"(Being named Father of the Year) is a humbling experience, too, because when I think of Columbia County, I know that there are a heck of a lot good dads in this county," he said.
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