OXFORD — Father’s Day’s roots date back to 1910 when it was first celebrated in Washington state. It was not a designated national holiday until 1972.

Rick Nugent of Oxford is a proud and loving dad. He took the time recently to share how his father’s service as a Massachusetts firefighter inspired his dynamic photography and influenced two of his sons to join the Oxford Fire Department and become paramedics. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Today we know it as an occasion designed for families to hold summertime gatherings and for kids (of all ages) to honor their dads with tokens of love and appreciation.

But Father’s Day is more than greeting cards and cook-outs. It is a special time for parents to reflect on and revel in their children, measuring milestones that stretch across generations.

The Advertiser Democrat met with one of those parents recently, Rick Nugent of Oxford, who was happy to talk about the love in his close knit brood. His goal is to share a positive, feel-good narrative during a time when it can be difficult to celebrate others.

His five kids and their families – Shawn, Tim, Corey, Aaron and Shikara – all live close by. The Nugent patriarch’s home is like a family club house – a family game room stocked for fun inside and oversized deck set up like patio dining with swimming pool outside.

Nugent’s late wife Debra oversaw every detail of making their home a place of joy and respite for their family and it is where they continue to enjoy holidays and each other in a way that will always include her presence.

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Even though Father’s Day is his day, this week seemed a fitting time to learn about this father’s pride, including his two sons who serve the Oxford Hills and Auburn communities as first responders.

That would be Aaron, who earned his paramedic’s certificate earlier this year and works for PACE Ambulance Service in Norway, and Corey, a lieutenant with the Auburn Fire Department. Both sons got their start in public safety as young adults with the Oxford Fire Department.

Amateur photographer Rick Nugent of Oxford spent years capturing dramatic images for the Melrose, MA fire department. Courtesy Rick Nugent

Going back to Nugent’s own father Joe, the family has always showed up for fires. His father was a firefighter in Melrose, MA. While Nugent was not able to follow in his dad’s footsteps, through his connections he became intimately involved as Melrose’s official, unofficial photographer. He has albums of dramatic photographs he took of firefighters battling epic flames engulfing homes, street blocks and industrial buildings.

“I think it was their grandfather who influenced Corey and Aaron toward it,” Nugent said. “They were exposed to firefighting through his stories” of the old days of urban emergencies.

That may be so. It was Nugent who wanted to honor his sons and have their story told as a surprise for them so we did not talk with them directly. But after browsing the pages of Nugent’s photo albums it would not be a stretch to conclude that the rage and power captured by his photography also ignited his boys’ passion to tame it.

After joining the Oxford Fire Department both Corey and Aaron gravitated toward the medical rescue aspect of firefighting, eventually becoming paramedics.

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An early 1970s warehouse fire in Chelsea, Mass. Oxford resident Rick Nugent took the pictures while he father dad Joe fought the fires. The stories and images influenced Nugent’s sons Corey and Aaron to join the Oxford Fire Department Courtesy Rick Nugent

Scott Hunter, former Oxford fire chief, is retired from the local department but still serves as battalion chief at the Auburn Fire Department where Corey works full time. He was Oxford’s fire chief when the Nugent brothers were learning the ropes. Corey pursued advanced training early on, while the younger Aaron earned his paramedic’s license at the beginning of the year.

“Both Corey and Aaron did well with the department, from the start,” Hunter told the Advertiser Democrat. “They were dedicated.”

So dedicated the brothers forged careers to serve their communities.

“They’ve always talked about their family get togethers and about their grandfather, too,” Hunter said. “They truly love what they do. They love public service and it shows in their work.”

This Sunday as the Nugent family marks Father’s Day the kids and grandkids will celebrate their dad. And he will be sure to celebrate his love of family as well as a father’s greatest pride.

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