Family Member Hero - People's Choice
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Dick Atnip is a highly respected Fullerton business owner for over 50 years. He has been recognized as an industry forerunner and for consistently exemplifying the highest standards of professional excellence throughout his career as well as being an inspiration and mentor to others.
It is not only his professional integrity that makes him a leader, but his strong personal commitment and dedication to his beloved wife, Joan, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer's Disease. His love for Joan has been an inspiration to many as a true example of the meaning of "for better or worse". Dick's love for Joan has never wavered through the progression of her disease.
Describe how your Nominee has exceeded his or her Job Description, becoming a hero to you or others. Provide an example or as much detail as possible of the things that they do that go above and beyond their job description.
Dick and Joan got married March 21, 1959, after knowing each other for just 10 days. She was 19 and he was 21. They drove from Napa Valley to Nevada to get married. They arrived at a chapel at 6 AM. Dick only had $2 in his pocket and the cost of a wedding was $6. Dick offered his watch in exchange. After refusing six times, the seventh time was a charm and the man at the chapel accepted his watch and said, "Okay, Let's get married now!". They have remained in love ever since. This March Dick and Joan celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary.
In 1962, Dick and Joan packed up their belongings and moved to Southern CA. They brought their belief in themselves, love for each other and faith that hard work and integrity would provide opportunities.
Together they built their family-owned business in Fullerton and over the years were loving parents to their three sons. They did everything together and were also very involved in the community as well as in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
When Joan was 50, Dick helped her to achieve a "bucket list" dream of earning her pilot's license and bought her a plane. He knew she loved a special brand of chocolate from Paris and he decided to surprise Joan with a Concorde flight to Paris for dinner and chocolates for her 50th birthday.
After Joan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Dick's focus was to ensure his "Joanie" knew she was loved every day. He cared for her personally for several years, and when it became clear to him he could no longer provide all the care she needed by himself, he made sure she had the best care possible outside the home. His company organized a team for Alzheimer's walks in Joan's honor to raise funds for a future cure. Today, Joan is in a wheelchair, is unable to communicate. Dick still continues to visit with her twice a day and holds her hand and speaks lovingly to her. In his eyes she is still the same beautiful woman he married. We may not know how much of his conversation she understands, but she still knows she is treasured and occasionally a tear will roll down her cheek or she may offer a slight smile. He has been an inspiration to the owners and staff of the care home he chose for Joan three years ago as well as other families whose loved ones reside in the home. He treats them with the same kindness and courtesy.
Dick Atnip would probably say he is only doing what is right and natural because his love for Joan has no boundaries, but, in reality very few of the residents with Alzheimer's in care homes receive the level of care, love and attention that he provides for Joan. His selfless devotion is an inspiration to all who know him and is without a doubt the stuff true heroes are made of.