“The only fish I've caught in my life came when my dad, Gene Cannon, decided on some father-son bonding time with me and my brother David one summer in the late 1960s.
Not being an outdoorsman (this was the only fishing trip my dad ever took us on), Dad borrowed some fishing poles and took us to the little Parksville Lake backwater area across the highway from Mac Point.
We fished from early morning to late evening and didn't catch a thing. As we were leaving, Dad went around the small inlet to a guy who had been pulling fish out of the water right and left, and bought two fish. He came back to me and my brother and tossed one to each of us and said, ‘Now you've caught a fish. Let's go home.’”
The following are excerpts from Joe’s column he wrote for Father’s Day in 2009:
If you listen to my dad’s “stories,” you’ll be entertained for hours. If you think about his humor, you’ll begin to chuckle. If you look at all the hard work he’s done behind the scenes, you’ll be amazed.
But when you get past all the “glitz and glamour” of Gene Cannon, what you’ll find most of all is a man who loves the Lord, his family and just about everyone he comes in contact with.
Born in the mid-1920s and raised in Cleveland during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Dad was a captain in the Bradley High Band before going to serve our country in World War II. “I went to volunteer for the Army and they wouldn’t take me because of my eyesight,” he likes to tell. “Six months later I got called up in the draft. When I went back, they asked me if I wanted Army or Navy? I told them they wouldn’t take me six months earlier. The man just looked up at me and said, ‘What do you want, Army or Navy?’ I chose the Navy since the Army didn’t want me when I volunteered.”
After the Axis forces wisely surrendered in the face of such an enemy, Dad returned to Cleveland, where he caught the eye of a pretty little girl at church who had moved here from Missouri. Showing the superior intelligence which had made him such an intricate cog in the Allied war machine, he begged her to marry him, which he admits is the smartest move he ever made. Their wedding was the first service of any kind in Wildwood Avenue Church of God of Prophecy. With the exception of a brief move to St. Louis for a couple of months, Gene and Juanita raised their four boys in Cleveland and opened their hearts and home to numerous oth
ers who became their “children” as well.
Being the youngest of the four boys, I missed out on some of Dad’s most memorable shenanigans, but in the past half century I have witnessed plenty to support his greatest claim to fame — “Mighty Guide.” A term of endearment, “Might Guide” refers to the great adventurous spirit my dad possesses when it comes to traveling. With the vast majority of my dad’s work career involved in printing (at Preston’s, White Wing and Pathway) and my mom being a secretary at Church of God of Prophecy Headquarters for 45 years, money was never plentiful, but it was important to Dad that we have family vacations, so we did a good bit of traveling.
We also usually made at least one trip a year to see my mom’s family in Missouri. The majority of the time we were able to stay with family or friends, which helped out on the expense and gave us opportunity to visit with them as well. On one quick trip Dad took the front seat out of a VW bug and laid a piece of plywood that covered the back seat area as well as the missing front seat. He covered it with blankets and pillows and loaded up me and my brother David, both of us under 12 years of age, and the three of us headed to the beaches of Florida for a few days.
That was the trip my dad let his beard grow and was the only time I ever saw him with whiskers. Always a “shutter bug,” that was also the trip he went up to a beautiful bikini-clad young woman and asked her boyfriend to take a picture of her and dad on a blanket together. Instead of hitting Dad, the guy gladly took the photo and it raised quit a few eyebrows back home.
Along with the goofiness which makes its way to the surface on a regular basis, my dad has a “quiet intelligence” that can often go unnoticed, unless you look closely. He and Mom both served as president of the Oak Grove PTA for several years. Dad was a key member of the local Civil Air Patrol for years and was in charge of helping people get temporary housing after tornadoes and other disasters. When the Wildwood church relocated to what is now the Peerless Road Church, at the end of Raider Drive, Dad served as the chairman of the building committee.
Although his health and failing eyesight have limited his abilities in recent years, his spirit and drive continue to shine through. Even during the pain of having knee replacement surgery and rehab earlier this year (2009), he still took the opportunity to share the love of Christ with the nurses, therapists and aides who worked with him at Life Care. Dad, the name “Mighty Guide” is still extremely appropriate today as you have been a tremendous “guide” to your many children (blood and otherwise), showing us the way a godly man should live his life.
Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for allowing the love of Christ to shine brightly through you to enlighten the lives of your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who come in contact with you.
I love you Dad and am proud to be your son.