DAN CUMMINGS: SHOWING UP AND INSTILLING IMPORTANT VALUES
When Joe asked us to write this month’s article on someone we admire, my mind went in a thousand different directions. I’ve been blessed to have so many terrific and inspiring people in my life whom I strive to emulate every day. The person I’ve elected to highlight this month is my old man, Dan Cummings. First, I’d like to share a little bit of family history. My dad’s maternal grandparents, Patrick Walsh and Rosemary Slattery, immigrated to America from Ireland’s County Mayo at the tail end of the 1920s. His mom grew up on Orchard Street, in the shadow of St. Clement’s Church in Lincoln Park, which is about a 10-minute walk from where my wife and I now live. Ultimately, his parents, Don Cummings and Maureen Walsh, married, started a family, and began raising their kids in west suburban Bellwood. My dad’s education followed a traditional Irish Catholic path, attending St. Simeon Elementary School in Bellwood, Fenwick High School (’79), and earning his bachelor’s degree in political science from Illinois Benedictine College (affectionately referred to as “Itty Bitty College”). From there, he went on to attend John Marshall Law School full time, while also working for my grandparent’s newsstand at the Chicago Board of Trade.
public defender and in private practice. Growing up, I always had an affinity for the type of work he did. To me, there is great honor in being the only cornerman for someone against the entire might of the government. While proud of his career, my dad would tell you that above all, he is a husband and a father — and I can confirm that he’s good at both. As a husband, he has been a master at compromise, loyalty, and balancing humility and strength. Don’t get me wrong — he’s not always right on everything marital. It took him years to figure out that my mom’s idea of a perfect Mother’s Day wasn’t freezing away in the seats of Comiskey Park. But he’s constantly learning! Someone once told me (in I’m sure it’s a distorted quote) that 90 percent of fatherhood is just showing up. Dan Cummings always shows up. From the first time my siblings and I started playing sports, he was there volunteering to coach, even if he didn’t know anything about the sport (e.g., soccer). During games, he was always quick with an encouraging word or piece of advice. My favorite was his mantra while I was on the pitching mound: “Throw strikes!” He usually shouted when I was a pitch away from walking my third-straight batter. After every game, he would follow up with a detailed postgame analysis over a milkshake or frozen Coke.
Beyond coaching, he also instilled in us a love of education and reading. I’ve never met anyone more well-read than my old man. He’s read at least two books a week for the last 30-plus years. That’s over 3,000 books. I have no doubt that these qualities were ingrained into my siblings, Charlie and Maureen, and have helped them become the veterinarian and teacher that they are today.
Patrick and Dan Cummings
Obviously, a newsletter article is far from enough space to paint a full picture of what my father means to my family and me. What he has taught us about the importance of self-sacrifice, hard work, and devotion are worthy of admiration. This month, I’m happy to introduce you all to my dad, Dan Cummings. If you haven’t met him yet, you can find him at White Sox Park this summer on Father’s Day.
For the last 32 years, he has worked as a criminal defense attorney — both for the
BRAISED CHICKEN AND SPRING VEGETABLES This simple and delicious one-pot recipe is perfect for a weeknight. It only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on work, but will taste like you spent all day building flavors. It’s a hearty comfort food that’s sure to delight eaters of all ages.
Ingredients • 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped • Salt and pepper
• 12 radishes, halved • 4 large carrots, cut into sticks • 1 tablespoon sugar
• 8 small bone-in chicken thighs • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Directions 1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium- high heat. 2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in pan for 6–7 minutes per side.
3. Remove chicken from pan and scrape off excess fat. Add broth and stir in radishes, carrots, and sugar. 4. Return chicken to pan, placing on top of vegetables. Gently simmer with lid on pan for 15–20 minutes. Finish with chives.
Recipe inspired by Real Simple
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