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Published: Monday, 8/5/2013

Ohio farmer recognized for commitment to family

2 agencies honor men who are making a difference

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
David Flowers, right,  finishes working on a truck with his son Benjamin, 23,  at the family farm outside McClure, Ohio. Mr. Flowers' farm has been in his family for three generations. David Flowers, right, finishes working on a truck with his son Benjamin, 23, at the family farm outside McClure, Ohio. Mr. Flowers' farm has been in his family for three generations.
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McCLURE, Ohio — David Flowers is the kind of father who often goes unnoticed.

He works from dawn to dusk on a 2,300-acre farm south of McClure while helping his wife, Luann, raise seven children.

The couple makes a point of having the family go to church each Sunday and sometimes more than that; sitting down together for supper each night, and supporting the kids in their various endeavors, including baseball games, track meets, 4-H activities, band, and other performing arts.

Family members gather for an occasional game of kickball once chores are done. They watch television, but not too much of it. They tease each other without tormenting one another.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Mrs. Flowers said. “In our family, everyone’s a comedian.”

One could argue Mr. Flowers, 51, is not newsworthy.

He’s low-key, even after holding the title of Richfield Township trustee in rural Henry County the last 10 years.

He laughs about how he sloshes through muddy fields to put up high-water signs during the summer, and gets behind the wheel of a truck in freezing weather to plow snow during the winter — stuff he and the township’s two other trustees would have employees do, except tiny Richfield Township has none other than a fiscal offi

“I tell everyone I like my winters,” Mr. Flowers said with a chuckle, “because then I only have to work 10 hours a day instead of the usual 18.”

Mr. Flowers is being recognized by the Ridge Project and Hope 4 Toledo as a role model. At various junctures throughout the coming year, the groups will be working with the city of Toledo to shed light on fathers — some conventional and some not — who are making a difference.

David Flowers watches his children Amy, 4, and Joshua, 11, play on a trampoline outside their home. Mr. Flowers is being recognized by the Ridge Project and Hope 4 Toledo as a role model. David Flowers watches his children Amy, 4, and Joshua, 11, play on a trampoline outside their home. Mr. Flowers is being recognized by the Ridge Project and Hope 4 Toledo as a role model.
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Karyn McConnell, a former Toledo city councilman who now serves as the Ridge Project’s northwest regional coordinator, said Mr. Flowers is being recognized because he invests tirelessly in his kids’ lives.

“He displays humility and takes great pride in his kids’ accomplishments and in supporting their dreams,” McConnell said.

There’s a lot more than tending to corn, wheat, and soybeans on the family farm.

Mr. Flowers said he spends a lot of time maintaining his farm equipment and in clearing out ditches for better drainage, especially in summers like this in which there’s been a lot of rain.

His wife said she has been able to be a stay-at-home mother because of his hard work.

But Mr. Flowers makes a point of carving out time for his family.

“A lot of families give their kids way too much, too many material things,” Mr. Flowers said. “But that’s not what my kids want. They want time.”

The farm has been in his family for three generations, a feat in itself in this era of corporate agriculture and the decline of family-owned farms.

Mr. Flowers said he plans to turn the farm over someday to his oldest son, Benjamin, so the site can remain under family ownership for a fourth generation.

Benjamin, who is engaged to be married next summer, said he looks forward to having his own children, and raising them like his father and mother raised him.

“I would like to see a lot of my father in myself as I raise my kids,” Benjamin Flowers said.

He said he admires his father for his humor, faith, compassion, patience, and guidance.

“Keeping God in the family really held us together,” he said. “We learned a hard work ethic early on.”

David Flowers is surrounded by his wife, Luann, and five of his seven children: Daughters Nicole, 17, left, Michaela, 13,  Amy, 4;  and sons Joshua, 11, and Benjamin, 23. Mr. Flowers is being recognized by two area organizations because he invests tirelessly in his children’s lives. David Flowers is surrounded by his wife, Luann, and five of his seven children: Daughters Nicole, 17, left, Michaela, 13, Amy, 4; and sons Joshua, 11, and Benjamin, 23. Mr. Flowers is being recognized by two area organizations because he invests tirelessly in his children’s lives.
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The Flowers are Catholics. In addition to parents David and Luann, children include Benjamin, 23; Melissa, 21; Christine, 19; Nicole, 17; Michaela, 13; Joshua, 11, and Amy, 4.

All have been home for the summer. 

Two are about to move out. Melissa is a student at Heidelberg University in Tiffin. Christine attends Terra Community College in Fremont.

The 4-year-old daughter said she likes it when her father reads her books. 

Joshua said he enjoys having his father teach him how to drive a tractor.

The couple has found time to be active in their community: Mr. Flowers was on the St. Louis Catholic Church advisory board for six years until recently; his wife is a current member of its parent-teacher association and the school’s student council adviser. Both helped plan the church’s annual festival in years past.

Mr. Flowers said his philosophy on life is a simple one: “If you work hard and are good at what you do, the good Lord will provide for you.”

The Ridge Project is headquartered in McClure, not far from where the Flowers family lives.

McConnell said the organization learned about Mr. Flowers because of the respect he has achieved from others in the McClure area.

The Ridge Project offers a 36-week program for imprisoned fathers, helping them develop their parenting skills while in custody.

It serves more than 4,000 inmates in 16 Ohio prisons through a program called Keeping Families and Inmates Together in Harmony, also known as Keeping FAITH.

Hope 4 Toledo is a collaboration of Toledo-area businessmen.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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