When I was 7 and our family lived in West Los Angeles, my father, Arthur (“Art”) Neworth, took me fishing off the Santa Monica Pier. I caught a few perch that we brought home and was delighted when my mother prepared them for dinner. As it happens, the last time I saw my father was also in Santa Monica.

In the 1980s, my dad volunteered once a week for Tom Hayden at his Assembly office on the Promenade. He so admired Hayden’s working-class background and liberal views. One day I met him at Hayden’s office and we went for lunch at Zucky’s.

After lunch, we walked back to Hayden’s office and said goodbye, as fate would have it, for the last time. That night, he went square dancing with my mother, had a heart attack and died at 73. I think of him often but always more as Father’s Day approaches.

My dad fostered many of my loves in life: baseball, hiking, dogs and comedy. He was a huge fan of the Marx Brothers and Jackie Gleason, to name but a few. As my father was tense by nature, as a boy I delighted in making him laugh.

The word that best describes my father is “honorable.” I first realized this when I was 11 on a day in 1955 still vivid in my mind. It was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion. The whole family went to temple for services, though I wasn’t exactly thrilled.

There was a heat wave that Yom Kippur and I desperately wanted to be outside playing baseball. And going to temple meant I had to wear wool slacks that itched like crazy, a sport coat and a tie. So, as our rabbi, Albert Lewis, was giving his sermon, I was restless to say the least.

Rabbi was tall with a deep voice that, when he spoke on a subject dear to his heart, could deliver a powerful sermon. That day it was about racial integration, i.e. how important integration was to Jews who had been discriminated against for centuries. He seemed upset with the congregation for our collective apathy.

Vehemently, he pointed out the shame that, at Rancho Park’s golf course directly across the street from Temple Isaiah, there still existed racial discrimination. There were no black members of the Rancho Park Golf Club, and Rabbi found this intolerable. With his booming voice, he got my attention. It felt like somehow God was speaking through him. (Hey, I was 11, OK?)

And then Rabbi paused dramatically. With pride, he suddenly revealed that someone in our congregation, in fact, had recently sponsored a black man into the membership and Rancho Park Golf Club was no longer segregated. And that someone was my father! (The new member was the mailman whose route included my father’s clothing store on West Adams Boulevard.)

Itchy slacks notwithstanding, I was filled with pride that Rabbi had singled my father out with such praise. And, as we drove home, my mother and sister were also proud. Meanwhile, in the back seat, I had already taken off my jacket and tie. If I’d had a pair of Bermuda shorts, I’d have changed into those, too. (That wouldn’t have gone over well, as my father could be strict.)

Sadly, my father passed away before he could read much of my writing. But years before his passing, I wrote a play staged in Santa Monica at the Church in Ocean Park for six weekends. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been feeling well and missed opening night. Then, weeks later, during a Sunday night performance, backstage I heard his laughter coming from the audience. (He had such a hearty laugh, you couldn’t mistake it.)

I peeked out from behind the curtain, but I couldn’t find him in the crowd. I was positive it was him, and I was right. But, to my disappointment, after the show he had gone home. I never pressed him on why, but he phoned the next day to say that, on the drive home from work, he had laughed again at some of the play’s dialogue. I was elated.

Given all the writing I’ve done in these intervening decades, the memory of my father enjoying my play so heartily may not seem like that much. Trust me, I’m grateful to have it. (Fishing off the pier, too, for that matter!) All of this to say, if you’re fortunate enough to still have your father or, like me, just memories, please have a happy Father’s Day.

Jack Neworth is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jnsmdp@aol.com.