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On Being a Father


Ian Campbell

"My children want a recount," laughs San Diego Opera director Ian Campbell about his being selected as a Father of the Year. "It’s hard," he admits, "the job of being a father. I am honored, but it’s almost insulting to every other father who works harder at it and does better."

It’s difficult to imagine anyone doing better than this dedicated father of two (Benjamin, 10, and David, 8). Shortly after coming to San Diego in 1983, Campbell hired Ann Spira of Milwaukee to be his new development director. In 1985 they were married. "I married her, she got pregnant, and I fired her," says Campbell jauntily. "The board wanted her to come back, so I said, ‘Then you hire her.’" Ann has worked for the opera on and off for the past 12 years.

The Campbells live on Point Loma, "a great place to raise a family. We can walk to the ocean in one direction and the harbor in the other," says Campbell. He and the boys explore the coastal bushland behind Nazarene College and also the desert. Campbell was approached to return to his native Sydney last fall but declined, largely because of the children.

"Sydney is a city of 4 million. If I had taken over the Australian Opera, there would be three years of working at night and traveling the country. The children are at an age when they need me more than ever. San Diego offers a balance between professional and private life, a safe environment, good education [the boys go to Beth Israel Day School], yet it has access to the bigger world."

Campbell began his career with the Australian Opera, where he sang for seven seasons. He joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1982 and moved to San Diego as opera director the following year.

Albert Kercheval

Albert and Joyce Marie Kercheval’s only child, Erica, 27, is scheduled to deliver her first baby the day Albert is to be honored by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Unfortunately for the soon-to-be grandparents, Erica lives in Los Angeles. Though she grew up in Del Cerro, "we can’t get her to live here," Kercheval says. After college at Dillard University in Louisiana (her mother’s alma mater), Erica began a marketing career in Los Angeles. "But they tend to come back in the end," he says, citing San Diego’s great living environment.

Kercheval is president, founder and majority owner of Kercheval Engineers, a civil/structural engineering firm with offices in five states. The business is 100 percent minority owned. After he completed his undergraduate work in civil engineering, Kercheval got his MPA (Master of Public Administration) at National University in 1970—"one of the early ones," he says. He started Kercheval Engineers in 1978 and now employs 125 people.

Recently he has served on the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Economic Development Corporation boards—just two in a long list of civic commitments. And he is the founder of the San Diego Council of Black Engineers and Scientists.

Kercheval and his wife look forward to being grandparents. And the Father’s Day Council, ready to honor Al, looks forward to Erica being either ahead of, or behind, her delivery schedule.

Clifford M. LaChappa

Clifford M. LaChappa has been the tribal chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians since 1988. Under his guidance, the Barona Casino has brought prosperity to the reservation. Tribal unemployment has dropped from 70 percent to zero; homes have been built, educational programs established for children and trust funds set up for college scholarships. The tribe plans a grand opening this summer of a $2 million project that will include a museum and a community center, tennis and basketball courts, a school, a library and a Head Start facility.

A far cry from the days when LaChappa grew up on the reservation, one of eight children, in a society troubled by poverty and unemployment.

LaChappa worked for San Diego Gas & Electric for 25 years before deciding to run the tribal government full-time. He lives on the reservation with his wife, Linda. They have four children of their own (Tawnya, 27, Eagle, 26, Matthew, 22, and Anthony, 18) and welcomed four more children (Gwen, 20, Chris, 19, Shelby, 11, and Blaize, 9) into their family. The two youngest, who came to them as toddlers, are now officially adopted.

The LaChappas have seven grandchildren, all living within 3 miles of the family home, and the entire family gathers at least every other Friday night. "They love Mom’s home cooking," says LaChappa.

His advice to parents? Enjoy the kids when they’re young, give them love, and hope that as they get older they’ll keep the values you’ve taught them.
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