Like Father, Like Son
June, 2007 - Issue #32
The Garcia Family

Frank Garcia was an Antelope Valley boy. His dad, a sergeant in the Army National Guard, often warned his son to stay out of trouble and get a good job with a good retirement plan and benefits.

It was something Frank always remembered about his hardworking dad, but it was an uncle, a firefighter in the Air Force and for the Forest Service, who hooked him on the fire department. "I watched him and I liked what I saw," Frank said.

Working at Station 111 on Seco Canyon Road, Frank Garcia remembers the days he would bring his three sons, Steven and twins Mark and Kenny, along with wife Joanne, to the station for dinners and special occasions. Frank and Joanne would also tell their sons to find a good career and stay out of trouble. The boys listened.

The Garcia Family
The Garcia Family

Steven was the first to think about a fire-fighting career when he attended a "Bring Your Son to Work" Day with his dad. "We had a really busy day," Frank said. "Steven got hooked. He started taking classes and doing volunteer work." The twins began pursuing a firefighter career while still in college. It's tough competition, Frank said, but all three boys were determined to see it through.

Between tests, oral interviews, physical fitness ability and background checks, all the boys eventually found a spot on a fire department. Steven now works downtown for the Los Angeles City Fire Department and the twins were both hired with the City of Fresno. While the Garcia boys said their father has always been there when they needed him, they give a lot of credit to their mom - "The toughest one of the five of us," Mark said.

Frank still enjoys his job and doesn't see retirement in his immediate future. "I'm having too much fun," he said. He and Joanne plan to travel back and forth between Los Angeles and Fresno and keep an eye on the boys. Steven is single but has a serious girlfriend, Joanne said. The twins have recently married and the new daughter-in-laws are a wonderful addition. Frank said his father's advice has rung true. "The fire department has allowed us to provide things for our children that we didn't have ourselves," he said. "We are truly blessed."

The Smyth Family

There wasn't much young Cameron or Colin could get away with during their high school years. With a father as the superintendent of the district, the two boys might have felt they were under a microscope, but Cameron said his parents made it very clear to him from the start. "If I ever got a referral, they knew to call my dad," he said with a smile.

Clyde began his career teaching mathematics at a high school in his home town of Pasadena, where he met his future wife, Sue, also a teacher at the school. He was recruited and eventually accepted the principal job at Placerita Junior High School in 1969 and the family moved to the small town of Newhall. In 1974, Clyde was appointed superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District, a position he held for over 16 years.

After his retirement from the school district, Clyde won a seat on the city council. His son Cameron followed in his dad's political footsteps and Colin is a military man. Both sons are always on the move - Cameron in Sacramento (he was recently elected to the state assembly) and Colin, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, to wherever the Air Force assigns him. For the past three years, and much to the delight of Clyde and Sue, Colin and his family have been living in Santa Clarita and the entire Smyth family takes every opportunity to get together.

The Smyth Family
The Smyth Family

Growing up in a small town made both boys feel grounded and they carry friendships that were made in their youth into adulthood. "Santa Clarita was quiet when we moved here," Clyde said. "The boys had plenty of room to run up and down the hills. It was a really good place to raise the kids and attend good schools."

Watching his boys grow and play in Santa Clarita has been a joy for Clyde. Now, with the addition of four grandsons, Clyde is enjoying the view all over again.

"I've had fun," he said about a houseful of boys. "Our boys were so deeply involved in things, especially sports. We had parks and recreation programs as good as any place in California. It's nice for me to go on Saturday mornings and watch my grandsons play the same things my boys did."

"I couldn't be more proud of my sons," Clyde added. "They love their boys and it shows. They have great wives and make good decisions with their kids."

The Albert Family

Those who can, teach. That is certainly true in the Albert household with David, recently retired from Canyon High School, and his twin sons, Jeff, who teaches at Valencia High and John, a teacher at Canyon. The Albert twins were born and raised in Saugus along with older sister Rebecca, the smartest of the group according to the boys.

The twins remember an idyllic childhood filled with open fields and a patient dad.

David was teaching and coaching at Canyon while the children prospered in sports and academics. "We were lucky with the boys and their interest in sports," David said. "Rebecca was a serious student and a good gymnast. The kids grew up in a nice neighborhood, played ball in the street and visited with the local kids."

The Albert Family
The Albert Family

Jeff remembers the ball games, the hiking, trying to catch rattlesnakes, shooting BB guns and pulling the stakes out from construction sites. John remembers having a great neighborhood. "There was not a lot to do, so people talked to each other," he said. As a family, they listened to all types of music; something David told his children was an excellent way to understand other cultures and lifestyles. "We weren't a musical family, but my dad believed everyone should get along with everyone else on this planet and music was a way to appreciate others," John said.

The boys excelled in sports - something the entire family loved. And while Santa Clarita has grown tremendously since their childhood, John said he doesn't mind it. "I wouldn't have a job if [the town] didn't grow," he said. Growth has also brought more opportunities for the Albert grandchildren. Jeff said he is amazed at the things his son Cameron is learning in pre-school and appreciative of the entertainment available so close to home, such as the city's Aquatic Center.

But there is nothing like Grandpa and Grandma's home. David and his wife Sue, a dean at College of the Canyons, enjoy family gatherings. The older grandchildren love to tease grandpa on his recent retirement, asking if he's catching up on "Oprah" and "The View." Granddaughter Isabelle, 9, loves history, which works out pretty well; her grandpa taught history, social studies and economics. And David is always invited along to the many outings with the children and grandchildren.

"Being a grandpa is a lot more fun," David said. "You re-live all the good parts of raising your own children. We enjoy having them over. It's fun."
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