Big Boots To Fill

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.

– Jim Valvano

I have heard it said, “Be a good father and be your child’s hero.” Well I’m here to tell you I had a hero- a man who stood as tall as a giant in my world. He was a man who always put his family first, no matter the conditions or the circumstances.


Ernest “Wash” Rollins

I lost my father in 1992. He was my best friend, my mentor, a cowboy and a man I wanted to be when I grew up. As they say, he had big shoes to fill, but in this case they were big boots. But bigger than his boots was his heart. He may not have told you all his feelings, but you knew they were there because you felt it. He created a sense of comfort and security, and most of all he believed. He believed I had it in me to do my best no matter what, and a trust that I would work hard everyday and take care of my family, livestock and the land.

My father taught me that sweat and blood were tools that would mold a person. A potter molds clay, with methodical turning and shaping of a mass, that is then transformed into a figure. This figure becomes a model that so many times is cast in the same likeness. My father did the same with his hands, that were so big and massive, but also caring. He shaped my heart and soul into being a man, a husband and a father. Sure there are rough edges, but with trust and guidance, the edges became smooth and polished.


Mama and Daddy

The lessons learned through knocks and bruises made the mold stronger. Dad taught me during hard times you don’t give in- you give it your all. Because in the end, no matter the outcome, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

I lost my mother earlier this year and I try everyday to remember the values my parents instilled into me. This quote may say it best,“Treat your parents with loving care, you will only know their value when you see their empty chair.”

My wish for all you fathers today is that you are a role model and a mirror that your children may look into and see a reflection of the values you instilled in them. And no matter if you wear shoes or boots, show them the tracks to make and remember to be thankful that you also had Boots to fill.

God bless.


My two boys, Jason and Jeff, ’91


Me and my youngest, Jeff

19 thoughts on “Big Boots To Fill

  1. This is wonderful, Kent. Sounds like there were many similarities between your Dad and mine, including the year they died. We were pretty blessed to have Dad’s like ours.

  2. Kent, As always your story was so touching and the words hit home for me on many bases! Thank you for sharing.

    Tresa Killion Killion Pottery Houstonia, MO. 65333 660-620-5553

    • Tresa, hope all is well and it want be long before you have to put up with me and the little woman. Finally got a inch of rain last night so dry here, but it will get wet one day. Take care and God Bless

  3. You pay much more than word tribute to your Dad. You bless his, and your mom’s, memory in your approach to life. Shannon is truly blest.

  4. Your words are dead on Kent. I would give my life to show my Dad what kind of father he led me to be. Thanks to all the dads who chose to not ever quit when the rest of the world would.

  5. Happy Father’s Day to you!! My dad was also a hard worker. He taught me the value of “an honest days work”. A man of integrity. An honest man. This post brings back such treasured memories. Thank you!

  6. If you want to know what a man’s values and character are,,,,take a look at his son or daughter,it will give you some insight into him….Kent, I can see in you and the things you believe in ,,,your daddy was a fine,fine man,,,,,and he passed his character on to his son…Happy Father’s Day to you…Bryan C

  7. Great news Kent and Shannon about your upcoming Food Network appearance! I see your new video tribute to cowboys and spotted quite a few of mine from our branding last spring. Boys are already asking if your coming back next year. Really an impressive piece of work you and Shannon did on the video. Hope all is well with you both and look forward to spending some good times with ya’ll soon!

  8. Kent;

    I came upon your, “Big Boots To Fill”, a bit late. As I mentioned in a couple of earlier e-mails, I really admire, and enjoy the spirit that you live. Now, after reading this article, I can see where it comes from. Yes Sir, you are a blessed man

    In many ways, your description of your father is a mirror of mine. He was born in TX, and raised in the McAlester OK area from about the age of 4 years old. He is now back in OK.

    He is the shortest of all his siblings in stature but, in my eyes he stood the tallest in many respects. He taught me and my siblings [six of us], work ethics, commitment, caring for others, and how to be healthy, prosperous, yet frugal. He was from that “Greatest Generation” also. He told of the hard times his family endured, yet survived. He has passed down many examples to us.

    Thank you for your contributions to our lives.

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