Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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June 16, 2013

A father’s impact

To celebrate father’s day, three profiles of local dads: the challenges, the triumphs and lessons learned

Education, faith and laughter are key for Duells

GOSHEN - Nate Duell has four reasons to celebrate Father’s Day every year.

They are his adopted daughter, Mackenzie Bilbrey, 18, along with Duncan, 9, Ainsley, 8 and 7-year-old Angus.

The care and philosophy the Goshen father of four uses to raise his children has come from observing and spending time with his father, Bob Duell.

“It helps to be in the same family business and same vicinity close by,” Nate said. “We hold the same values — to be close and take care of your family. Professionally and personally, I’ve learned how to treat people and how to treat every person. My dad has never met a stranger and he has instilled that in us.”

The family business is education.

“Both of my parents are educators. I did everything to avoid the family business at first,” he said, laughing. “Not until my early 30s did I realize it was my calling. Teaching is a service industry and you don’t do well if you don’t have people skills.”

And serving other people stems from the family’s faith and goes beyond that, Nate said.

“It’s not unusual for people to come up to me and say, ‘I love your dad. He gave me a chance. Everyone knows dad,” Nate said. “You don’t see many people who help other people. Dad says, ‘Take care of other people and take care of your family and your life will be a lot better.’”

Nate compared his home while growing up to a boarding house.

“People came to our house who stayed for dinner, stayed overnight if they didn’t have a place to stay. They were students or people from church, all ages. They were not discriminating,” he said. “My wife and I are trying to instill those same qualities in our kids.”

Being private and personal is not the Bob Duell way, Nate said about his father. “He’s been an open book all his life,” he added.

And Bob credits his father, Ralph Duell, for his philosophy on life.

“My dad was a spiritual person and a prayer warrior. I never noticed until the day he (Ralph) died and then Nate told me I was to be the prayer warrior now,” Bob said, with tears in his eyes. “Nate recognized my dad was a prayer warrior.”

And as a grandfather, Bob remains open to his grandchildren.

“It’s a different experience. I’ve had to learn to be a grandparent and not a parent and not be in control like I did with Nate. I tried to control Mackenzie a little bit,” Bob said. “Being a grandparent should be a place where kids can come for food, to relax, vent if need be and get away from parents.”

Mackenzie laughed while saying she’s “the best grandchild and the favorite. Grandpa is always there for me. He’s always helping others and we’ve rung bells together for the Salvation Army and other quirky service opportunities. He takes time out of his day to help others. People tell me the things he’s done and it’s like he’s an awesome hero.”

Nine-year-old Duncan will call his grandpa if he has a bad day.

“When I go to his house, he makes sure I can deal with it,” Duncan said. “He’s awesome and takes care of us.”

And the Duell family shares a lot of laughter with their sense of humor.

“Humor makes life easier sometimes to laugh about it,” Bob said.

And humor makes conflict resolution easier, Nate added.

“We all have a great sense of humor and it’s rare not to have a family gathering with a lot of laughter,” Nate said.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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