My Mentors: My Dad

This is a long post, but a meaningful one for me.  So please give it a real read.

With all of the wonderful comments on the Design Post, I noticed how many of you mentioned working with family or friends as a key piece of your enjoyment.  It led me to write this post about someone I always enjoyed exploring and building with:  my dad.

Mr. Fox and His Dad

Part of learning is surrounding yourself with people who can inspire you and who share their passions with you.  I was lucky enough to have someone like this with me from the beginning.

My dad was a bio-medical engineer at the University of Michigan (Uof M).  However he did not take the ordinary path to becoming anengineer.  He had a rough childhood and barely finished high school and never graduated from college.                  His Senior Picture

129239404163125000He was extremely talented at figuring out how things worked, designing, sketching 3-D drawings, and inventing.  He originally worked at a manufacturing plant and sat in on classes at U of M and Eastern Michigan, not to get credits or a degree, but to learn.

He created his own learning opportunities and followed his own path. (This is what all of you will have to do as careers and the world in general change before your eyes.)

He eventually got a job in a tool shop at the U of M.  For many years he worked his way up, patenting multiple inventions, starting his own company, and eventually teaching a course to PhD engineer students at U of M.

Along the way, he also owned a rib restaurant, was the president of a credit union, taught himself how to rebuild an old barn into a house, and eventually donated 30 acres to create a city park (called the Fox Science Preserve, with a picture of Vivian and me on the sign).

Over the years my dad and I built many things and shared many experiences together.  Including pine wood derby cars, forts, grills, potato guns, bathrooms, bedrooms, plumbing, and on and on.

Original Barn in the 70’s


Thinking about how to build a circular room in the silo

In the Silo

Holidays in the Barn, notice the arched beams going to the peak of the barn

For an idea of scale, the Christmas tree is 15 feet high or 4.6 meters

Christmas in the Barn

If you have read this far I appreciate that you took the time to learn more about my dad and me in the process.  The thing is, when you have a good mentor or teacher you absorb certain traits and attitudes by simply being in their presence and following their example.

It is hard for me to write about my father, because unfortunately he passed away three years ago the month before I moved to Venezuela.  He was my best friend and mentor and I miss him dearly.  But I still carry many lessons I learned from his actions and words.

  • Love of Learning
    • He was able to make his passion his work and his life.  He loved going to work and loved “working” every spare minute he had at home.  If you don’t like what you are doing every day then change it!
  • Curiosity and Innovation
    • My dad had a curious disposition and always wanted to know:  Why?  How does it work?  How can you build it differently? What happens if you do this?  Wouldn’t this be cool?  Why not?
  • Creativity
    • He could see things in a way that other people could not.  He wasn’t stuck in a certain mindset.  There was always time allowed to imagine what could be.
  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
    • Almost nothing we worked on went as quickly or easily as expected.  The real skill was being able to adjust and re-imagine  while we were in the process.

Work hard, play hard!” – Merlin Fox


When you are working, give it all of your creative energy and produce with your finest craftsmanship.

When you are relaxing with your friends and family enjoy every minute and don’t ever waste a second.


Who are your mentors or heroes?  What important lesson(s) have you learned from someone?

What did you learn from this story?  What did you learn about Mr. Fox?

What makes a good mentor?  Anything else you want to add?

About adamfox711

Middle school science teacher at Escuela Campo Alegre in Caracas, Venezuela. My wife teaches elementary art. I have a three year old daughter and one year old son.

View all posts by adamfox711


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17 Comments on “My Mentors: My Dad”

  1. Andrew W Says:

    My mentor is my dad, he has taught me many things. I have learnt from him that dangerous sports like skydiving and scuba-diving are not to be feared but to be enjoyed. I also learnt from him to enjoy my life and take things easy. I learnt that I should not worry too much and just keep on enjoying life.
    I learnt that Mr.Fox had a great father and that he had a great mentor for life.
    I think a great mentor is a person who teaches life lessons and does them by doing things with you. I think a great mentor is someone who can tell me what life should be and how life should be lived.


    • adamfox711 Says:

      1st Comment Winner!!! Thanks for sharing. I love scuba diving too. I would agree that enjoying life is definitely a good idea, I you can make other peoples lives more enjoyable, even better : )


  2. DanielM Says:

    Well my I have two metor both my dad and my mom
    My dad: Taught me to be a good student, to respect my friends and people and to appreciate my family
    My mom: MY mom always tell me to do what i want to do. When i wanted to scuba dive she told to go ahead and to enjoy


  3. Mari C Says:

    My mentor/heroe is my mom. She has taught me many lessons, but the one I think is more important is honesty. She always says to me that no matter what it is always better to be honest because eventually the truth will come out.
    I learned from this story that no matter how hard a problem is you have to face it and do anything you can to solve it. I leaned that Mr. Fox really loved his father and that he misses him too.
    I think what makes a good mentor is someone that cares about you and will always try to help you but at the same time lets you grow and make your own decisions.


  4. Alicia Says:

    My mentor is my father and mother because they both taught me a lot. Some of them is to be respectful to others and do your best in almost everything you do. But the most important one for me is to appreciate of what you have right now.
    Something that I learned from my dad is to not take things to hard to yourself and just take it easy.
    I learned that Mr. Fox had a wonderful time with his father like building many thing with him.
    I think a good mentor is someone that teaches you lessons has you grow up too.


  5. Priyanc P Says:

    My mentor is my dad. One of the most important thing he has taught me is that enjoy your life but at the same time think about your future. He lets me enjoy my life as I want it.
    I learnt that Mr. Fox had a great mentor and a great person to learn life from. A good mentor is someone that tells you how to live a proper life.


  6. Anna H Says:

    My mentors/heroes are really everyone in my family, but especially my dad. My dad has taught me many different lessons, one being that you can only do so much at once. Not to just get everything done right away, but to take your time and do it bit by bit to the best of your ability.

    What I learnt from this story is to appreciate what you enjoy. Also don’t give up, because even if things don’t start out great, if you keep working at it and doing what you love things may come along, and even go better than you ever imagined.

    I think what makes a good mentor is someone who is caring, loves what they do, and never gives up.


  7. Mateo M Says:

    My mentor is my brother. He has taught how to do lots of things like playing fifa or Madden. He is also a great role model and he is really fun to be around. I learned that Mr Fox really admires his dad and that he has learned a lot for him. I think that having someone teach you all this stuff is probably a really good person. A good mentor is a person that can help you through problems you encounter and that helps you solve them.


  8. Male B Says:

    My mentor is my mum, she has taught me a lot of life lessons but one that help me the most is that you have to work to get what you want, that nothing is free in life, you will always have to work for it, and that you have to be honest with everything and everyone. Having a mentor at home is really help full because she/he can help you at any moment. For me a good mentor is a person who care about you, and helps you in whatever you need.


  9. Ale Says:

    My mentor is my dad, he has taught me that in life you have to work hard, and if you are lazy you won’t get anywhere. I learned that Mr.Fox’s mentor is his dad, and that he is a great dad. I think a good mentor should be someone who you can trust and who will always be there for you no matter what.


    • adamfox711 Says:

      It is important to have people who will stick with you through good and bad times. Learning and life are not always easy and a supportive person is always helpful.


  10. Mariana D Says:

    1)Who are your mentors or heroes? What important lesson(s) have you learned from someone?
    1) My mentor/hero is my mom.I learned many important and different things with her, she is very philosophic so usually the lessons that she tells me I use for the rest of my life, when i do something wrong she doesn’t shout with me or something like that, she just gives a lesson for me to learn with my mistakes and not do it again.

    2)What did you learn from this story? What did you learn about Mr. Fox?
    2) I learned from this story if you are not lazy you can have a lot of fun, because Mr. Fox’s dad explain if we always work hard in what we want we can get it.I learned Mr. Fox
    likes to construct and learn new things like his dad, this is a very good thing, because when you want to learn new things, learning becomes very much more fun then when you just need to learn.

    3)What makes a good mentor? Anything else you want to add?
    3) What makes a good mentor is a person who like what he/she do, work hard, and the most important, a good mentor need be someone who you can learn great things with him/her.


  11. Nicolas Y Says:

    One of my Mentors would be my dad, he gives me advice on what I should do with my life, and even though he wants me to be a business man he encourages to study something I really enjoy when I go to college.


  12. Ximena Says:

    My mentors is all the family but mainly my mom and dad.
    My mom because every time I do something bad she tells me to correct it and also she shows she cares about me.
    My dad because he is always after me and he shows he cares about me.


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