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Family Weekend: Dad of the Year honored for leading family during tough times

BY SHANE ERSLAND | NOVEMBER 06, 2009 7:20 AM

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Putting the angst of his own loss aside, Brad Deery was determined to keep his daughters’ lives from falling apart when he told them their mother — his wife — had lost a two-year battle with cancer.

“I told them their mother loved them dearly, and the best way to honor her was to practice the good traits she raised them with,” said Brad Deery, who lives in Burlington.

Dominique, Bridgette, and Gracie needed their father to take on all the responsibilities previously shared with their mother.

The University Honors Program will recognize Brad Deery as the UI Dad of the Year this weekend during the Northwestern game at Kinnick Stadium. He will walk onto the field with his daughter, Dominique Deery, who nominated him for the award.

The UI senior said her dad worked 60 to 70 hours a week running car dealerships after their mom died but still did a remarkable job of handling family affairs.

“He has so much talent and such a big heart, he just took one thing at a time and got it done,” the 22-year-old said.

Margaret “Muggsie” Deery died on Sept. 19, 1998, at the University of Nebraska Hospital, where she traveled for treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s T-cell lymphoma. Brad Deery accompanied his wife for the five months leading up to her death, while a nanny cared for the three girls.

He remembered telling the children their parents would be away for awhile.

“I told them ‘Mommy is sick, and we’re trying to get her better, but she’s too sick to care for you, and you have to understand that,’ ” the 50-year old said.

Despite lacking a helping parental hand, the 50-year-old continued to accomplish occupational achievements and expand his business. He has car dealerships in 10 locations throughout Burlington, Maquoketa, and Pleasant Hill. He has consistently won the Chrysler Five-Star Award since 1999, and he has been recognized for leadership in sustainability by the U.S. Green Building Council for constructing a new Chevrolet dealership that incorporates ways to save on energy costs.

Dominique and Bridgette Deery, who both work for Brad Deery selling cars in the summer, said their father’s greatest achievements were in the family’s home, however.

Dominique Deery did not tell her dad she nominated him for the award, wanting it to be a surprise if he won, and said his success has led her to consider a career in the automotive business.

“He’s a great boss, and if he wanted to go into business with me someday, I’d be honored,” she said.


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