Defining ‘Dad’: Long Islanders Share Touching Stories About Their Fathers

Christie Korth & Eddie Korth

Defining ‘Dad’: Long Islanders Share Touching Stories About Their Fathers

It’s been said that any man can be a father but it takes someone extraordinarily special to be a “dad.” According to three Long Island women, the men in their lives embody what it means to be a dad by proving with their actions their everlasting devotion, love and support.

At 87, Christie Korth’s father, Eddie Korth, assumed many roles—father, veteran, bodybuilder, and devout Harley rider—but his role as mentor, best friend and fierce protector will forever certify him as “Dad,” according to his daughter, who is one of seven siblings raised in Mastic Beach. 

When she was 14, Christie Korth entered a New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) competition for the flute. Her dad inspired her to practice hard and with heart. “He made me play John Denver songs, which I hated.” He taught her to play from the soul. Her dad saw her compete and earn two gold awards as he watched from the front row. “I will never forget that proud look on my father’s face,” she remembered.

Korth’s dad’s training as a bodybuilder taught her the power of perseverance along with physical and mental strength. “He’d have me sit on his workout bench, tell me it was a rocket ship and if we kept working out, we’d be strong enough to go to the moon.” Korth credits her dad’s “never ever quit” motto with helping the two of them survive a terminal illness. 

According to 61-year-old Barbara Devanna, her 85-year-old dad, Lou Casale of Plainview, instilled in her the feeling that she could succeed, drawing on a strong work ethic, respect, and kindness. “We were raised to work hard and always be respectful, and we had a strict curfew. Two minutes late, and we were grounded. Yet many old acquaintances we run into today say they loved coming to our home.”

Devanna says her dad remains her rock, from giving her a much-needed break when her kids were little, to accompanying her on a college road trip when they were grown, to consistently being a listening ear. “There is a comforting feeling to know there is someone who always has your back,” she says.

50-year-old Gail Deoquino of East Northport says her husband, Rudy, has been defining the treasure that a great father is to a family, from the day he became one more than 30 years ago. “I don’t think he had ever even held a baby before. We were so young, but he looked into my tired eyes and told me to go rest and that he would take care of the baby. He rocked our baby boy for hours in his arms while I got some much-needed rest. He didn’t know what he was doing but becoming a dad was the most natural thing for him.”