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story.lead_photo.caption John Brooks, a resident at Valley Park Retirement Center, enjoys regular visits with his daughter, Connie Walk. Photo by Liz Morales / California Democrat.
Bill Crane had his hands in the farming scene and in technology before retirement. These days, his two children are picking up where he left off.

The rooms of Valley Park Retirement Center are full of many lifetimes of stories.

In the spirit of Father's Day, a couple of fathers within those rooms look back with pride on their families and how far time has brought them all.

One such Pilot Grove native, Bill Crane, boasts of two children.

"I've got two kids, one of each," Crane said. "My daughter is up in Lee's Summit, and my son lives just south of Clarksburg."

Crane retired from IBM in Kansas City, then moved his family to California in order to own land and raise livestock. As far as his children go, their paths ring true to the old adage that the apples don't fall far from the tree.

"My daughter has two daughters of her own," he said. "One graduated from high school as a valedictorian, and the other graduated from the same school as a salutatorian. One of them just graduated from a school in Miami, Florida and got a job at a software place in Kansas City."

His son took on some of Crane's other agricultural qualities.

"Well when my son got back from Iraq, he said the first thing he really wanted to do was raise hogs," Crane said. "I had a little piece of land out by Clarksburg, so I surveyed it out and sold it to him. I didn't want it to go to waste, and I figured he could use it."

Yet another similarity between father and son is the duo are Army veterans.

One of Crane's neighbors says he has had a great life thus far. After making it through triple bypass heart surgery and even a stroke, John Brooks still feels very lucky. One reason he is thankful would be his daughter, Connie Walk.

"I only had one girl," Brooks said. "Connie is still here, and she's retired. So is her husband."

Originally from Armstrong, Missouri, Brooks enjoyed 69 years of marriage with his wife, Nina. Together they watched their family grow into three grandsons and six great-grandchildren.

"They're all really good to me," Brooks said. "The problem is, I don't see them all that much."

A familiar face he does get to see quite often is that of Connie.

"She's really good to me. Especially now," Brooks said. "After my stroke, I just haven't been able to write good. So she comes over here and does all my finances and pays my bills."

At 90 years old, Brooks takes pride in his family and sums it all up with a simple yet profound message,

"It's been a very good life."

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