Dad, My Hero

  • July 22, 2014
  • #8407

"Bad company corrupts good character." Did you ever hear that as a kid? Joni did, and she heard it from her dad.

Dad, My Hero

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and its “Johnny,” not “Joanie.”

I think I’ve been saying that all my life. People see my name, J-O-N-I, and they don’t even think of saying “Johnny.” It’s always been a challenge when I'm giving my credit card information to a sales clerk: I'm Joni Tada, but I always say Joanie Tayda. It just makes it less complicated — you know what I mean? But about this name…

I have always loved being called “Johnny.” And actually, when I was a child, it was little Joni. That’s because my daddy was the big version and oh, did I look up to my father. He was my hero and I was his pal. He taught me how to ride a horse, build a fire, drive a nail, hold a saw, paint a picture, and sing a song — my father loved to sing, especially the old hymns; whenever we would go anywhere as a family, our car or Daddy’s truck would always be filled with lots of harmonizing. It was from my father that I developed a passion for the great hymns of the faith.

I think one of the most precious memories I have of daddy is when I was a teenager; I had become skilled in playing the piano, I had taken piano lessons for many years. We had a little baby grand piano in the corner of our living room and often, in the evenings after dinner, I would sit down at the piano and play something from Bach or Chopin. Daddy would slip quietly into the room and sit into the comfortable chair behind my piano bench. It felt so good that he wanted to just come in and hear me play — of course, after about ten minutes or so, the piano would send him to sleep. But that was okay. The important thing is he wanted to spend time with me — even if my music made him sleepy.

My father was a man of excellent character: kind, generous, compassionate, and always had a moral to every story. When I was a teenager, those “morals to every story” came in handy. His favorite one was ‘Bad company corrupts good character, Joni’ and he used it on me many a time I went off to summer hockey camp or on weekend beach-camping trip with my girlfriends. It was only years later I stumbled across that saying of his and I found it in the Bible. Oh, my goodness, First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 33 says:

“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

What? I thought that was daddy’s saying; here I always thought that originated with him, but nope, it originated with the apostle Paul.

I would love to introduce you to John King Eareckson. He’s been gone from this life for almost 25 years; he died in 1990 at the age of 90 (that’s right; he was born in 1900). But somewhere in the early 80s, when I was doing the Joni movie for the Billy Graham Association, they filmed my dad as part of a documentary on the making of the movie. It is so sweet; my mother, Lindy, is in it too. And this week I have posted a clip from that documentary on my radio page at It shows my mom and dad reflecting on how they handled my diving accident — and to this day, whenever I see it, I get teary-eyed. So please, when you have a moment go over to and click on the radio page. I’ve also posted a great photo of my mother and me when Daddy was inducted into the US Wrestling Hall of Fame at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. We were so proud of Dad (I forgot to mention that he was an alternate on the wrestling team for the 1932 Olympics). So, being that this is Family Reunion Month, go over to my radio page today at and meet my family. Check out our resources at

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© Joni and Friends


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