Carmel Dad of the Year: Joe Hession

Writer / Jane VanOsdol
Photographer / Diana Asberry

When 2017 Carmel Dad of the Year Joe Hession first suggested to his then 5-year-old daughter that he was starting an ESD or Erin’s Special Day, she looked at him “like he had three heads.” Thirty years and two other daughters later, Joe still makes these days a priority in each of his daughters’ lives. For one whole day every year, each girl gets her dad all to herself and gets to choose the agenda for the day.

While the focus is on his daughters, Joe says the outcome is different from what they think.

“The reality is that I think I enjoy this more than they do,” he says.

An ESD is just one reason why Erin Hession-Wooton nominated her dad for the Carmel Dad of the Year contest.

“He is generous with his time, always offers the best advice, makes us smile on bad days, and he creates amazing memories during special celebrations, family vacations and holidays we spend together,” she says.

Joe is quick to credit his family, his wife Kitty and daughters Erin (husband John Wooton), Mary and Leah, whom he calls his three diamonds.

As a father of adult children, Joe has had the privilege of watching the girls through all stages of life.

“There is so much joy and excitement when the kids are born,” he says. “But as they age and mature and make choices and go off in their direction, it’s very rewarding.”

Joe is thankful that along his parenting and marriage journey, he has found some resources to help him. In a time when men and Dads are often negatively portrayed in movies, TV and commercials, he has come to rely on the wisdom and encouragement from and and highly recommends them to other men as well. 

Joe realizes that the joys of fatherhood don’t come without difficulties, and he offers the following words to other men who are in the thick of it.

“Through the good times and the rough times, just stay the course,” Hession says. “Have faith in the good Lord that things will come together. You may not reap the rewards immediately, but you’re definitely making love deposits that will pay some rich dividends down the road.”

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