For as long as I can remember, Bob Loder has been a second father to me—a dad by choice. Although I don’t share his DNA, my heart knows he’s my second dad as strongly as if his name was listed on my birth certificate. Like many good men around the world who take on the role of a second father, Bob made a choice to open his heart to my brother and me and that decision has had a profound impact on our lives.
Anyone associated with Loma Linda University Medical Center probably knows Bob as the person who founded and kept the hospital’s clinical lab running smoothly with his wisdom, management skills, and Southern humor. But Bob is so much more than that to my brother and me. He has seen us through our teen years, marrying and raising children, and weathering life’s unexpected challenges. He still encourages us when we launch new projects and counsels us when we need direction, even as he negotiates the physical challenges of aging. Bob has always been there for us, especially in the years since we lost our own father.
Across this continent and around the world there are millions of good men who have chosen to love children who didn’t receive their 23 chromosomes. Men who willingly accept the father role for their step-children, neighbor kids, foster children, students, and others… the list is long and complex. Some step in to fill a hole left by another man. Others like Bob simply add depth to an already good familial relationship.
This Father’s Day it’s a privilege to say thank you to Bob and men like him. Thank you for being amazing role models, showing us the depth and strength of a father’s love. We may never be your biological children, but we will forever be your grateful children by choice.
Photo of Jimmie and Bob Loder Photo Credit: Susan Loder Gardner