Nellely and Cesar Valdez believe a modern family is about balancing the roles of mother and father.

This Father’s Day, 1st Sgt. Cesar Valdez of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Fires Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, will balance a wedding reception and his award for Father of the Year.

Valdez, a father of four, was chosen for the award by Killeen restaurant Las Brazas, after his wife nominated him for being a great dad.

In their small apartment in downtown Killeen, the quiet Army sergeant kept an eye on four kids in four rooms at once.

“Watch him, I think he fell,” he said, pointing behind the closed door as if he could see through the wall. Sure enough, Cesar Valdez Jr., 4, had fallen off the couch looking for his smartphone.

“He’s a really great dad,” his wife said.

Unlike Mother’s Day, which is full of roses, chocolates and cakes, Father’s Day is often played down in American culture, said Nellely Valdez. Fathers are the stoic ones.

“It’s good for (Las Brazas) to celebrate fathers, because dads don’t always ask for recognition,” she said.

Valdez said she was raised in a traditional Hispanic home, where the father was seen as the protector and base of the family and the mother is the source of emotions and caring.

“The mother is the more sentimental one, that’s why we put more emphasis on Mother’s Day,” she said. “It is the father who is often the solid one. He keeps things together.”

In their new life together, the Valdez family hopes to evolve that tradition — but not too much.

“It’s always been one and the other with us, and not one or the other,” said Nellely Valdez. “...But he still kills bugs for me.”

The four children, Taya, 14, Olita Mei, 6, Michelle, 6, and Cesar Jr. will celebrate with their dad today by enjoying the grilled chicken of Adan Sanchez, 35, manager of Las Brazas.

“The father is the fundamental base of the family,” said Sanchez, who also is a father of four. “We wanted to put more emphasis on fathers for once.”

Shying away from the attention, Cesar Alvarez said he learned to be a good father from his own father, a John Deere-tractor contractor, who died last year. The secret: listening to your children, he said.

“He listened more than he said,” Alvarez said. “I could always tell his response through his eyes.”

Despite the 10-year difference in age of his children, Valdez said he treats them all the same.

“Being consistent with all of them, that’s important,” he said. “And if the first one turns out all right, then you know you’ve done OK.”

Contact Brandon Janes at or (254) 501-7552

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