PITTSBURG — Family, faith and sports have always been Roger McCune’s priorities as a father of three girls.
It all started when Roger and Connie McCune met in middle school. They dated then, and then ended their relationship as most young people do. In high school, they dated again and after seven years were married. It has been over 50 years since then, and now they have three children and seven grandchildren.
“To me he was always ‘the right one,’” Connie McCune said. “I liked his intelligence, sense of humor, his good looks, his devotion to God, country and family.
“I said all throughout high school, when questioned why I was still going with him — he’s the only one I can see myself married to, and father of my future children.”
Connie said Roger always wanted a son — but was blessed with three daughters instead.
“They were all good students and athletes in their own rights,” she said. “He encouraged them in every aspect of their lives – academics, sports, social and interpersonal skills, independence and, most importantly, a spiritual relationship with Jesus.”
Roger McCune’s love for sports went beyond his career as an English teacher and coach — he encouraged his girls to be involved in sports.
“Dad definitely encouraged us to be physically active and to compete,” the McCune’s middle daughter Kimber Pakkebier said. “He did what he could to encourage this.”
Pakkebier said he used to build hurdles out of two-by-fours for her so she could practice hurdling, and a strike-zone cutout for her sister, Mindy Cliffton, to practice her softball pitching.
“We would have a free throw shooting contest that never really seemed to end, and he never ‘let’ me win because he wanted to encourage me to compete and beat him on my own merit,” Pakkebier said.
Their father also coached Cliffton’s fast pitch team.
Not only did Roger build hurdles and have shooting contests, he also taught the girls the importance of teamwork.
“When I'd come home from a game that he wasn't able to attend, his first questions would center around the team's results: ‘Did the team win? How'd the team do?’” Pakkebier said. “His questions about my individual performance came last.
“Although he wanted us to compete to be our best, he still instilled the valuable lesson of teamwork.”
“We all have a love of sports and he taught us about sportsmanship, loving what you do and playing hard,” Cliffton said. “However, the greatest lessons he taught us was to love God, your family and country — his grandchildren know the same.”
Cliffton said her father would make everyone go to Sunday school and church each week and on special occasions would sing them to sleep with Christian music — something their mother did every night. The girls have continued the tradition with their own children.
McCune went to as many of the his girl’s games as he could and even took trips go to his daughter's college basketball games.
“It wasn't unheard of him to randomly just show up at one of my college basketball games that were hours away — just to show his support and love,” Pakkebier said.
McCune’s love for sports has gone through the generations, his daughter Tobi O’Hara could not be reached for a comment because she was watching her own daughter at a fastpitch softball tournament.
McCune does the same for his grandchildren as he did his daughters. He continues to teach fastpitch, fishes with them and has even taken up archery — he has plans to go bow fishing with one of his grandsons.
“He cheers from the bleachers as each of his seven grandchildren compete in various sports – all of the time,” his wife said. “It is a great joy to him to be able to see them grow and flourish as young people.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.