Brady Bunch, eat your heart out. If you thought being the father to six children was plenty, try eight. Dan Hill, owner of Legacy Home Furnishings, is a proud father of eight beautiful children, ranging in age from the 2 to 21.
And if you assumed eight is enough, note that the Hill family has welcomed and housed three foreign exchange students and included them in their family activities and traditions.
Photo albums, organized by year, collectively boast of the family's outings, trips and adventures. Rose, Hill's wife of 22 years, said her husband constantly invites extended family and friends to join in their experiences.
Originally born in Mount Clemens, Mich., Hill considered his true home Arizona. "I missed being a native of Arizona by seven weeks."
Raised in Mesa, Hill grew up in a poor family.
"We didn't have a lot of money, so my Dad would take us fishing down at the canals in Mesa. It was about as far away as we could afford to fish," recalled Hill.
Years later, Hill met his bride-to-be, married -- and had lots and lots of babies. As students at Arizona State University, Dan and Rose were introduced through a mutual friend.
"You know how it's love at first sight for most? Well, it was love at first sound. I fell in love with her voice. I kept asking our friend, ‘Who was the girl with the voice?'" said Dan.
In 1985, the couple made their official debut as husband and wife on June 15, which happens to be Father's Day this year.
As the family grew, so did Rose's desire to have more children. "I didn't anticipate having eight children. I thought more like four," Rose said.
He told of the time his wife gave birth to their fourth child. "When she was in labor, the nurse asked her if she was done (having babies). My wife looked up at her and responded, ‘I think seven is a good number,'" chuckled Dan.
With a degree in criminal justice, Dan planned to study law. However, he opted for a different route when he accepted a position to manage a Kirby Furniture store. His career in furniture sales began at the tender age of 13 and to this day continues to thrive.
It was his specialty that allowed the family to move to Alaska to manage a store for seven years. Prompted to live closer to family, the Hill clan relocated to Arizona, making Payson their home for the last nine years.
Stepping into the Hill residence, one can't help but feel at home. Twenty assorted cereal boxes stand side by side on the kitchen's windowsill that overlooks the spacious back yard. The children's artworks adorn the large window, as the colors leap off the pages onto the extended dining room table. In this the special room, the family gathers every Sunday to eat Dad's homemade dinner. Dan selected each room's interior design and even painted them with warm, vibrant colors.
Sitting anxiously in the living room, nicknamed the Bear Room, four of the eight children waited to talk about their Dad.
Joseph, 11, was the first to share his thoughts.
"My favorite thing is camping with my dad and the (foreign exchange) students. Oh, and when Dad goes on his delivery routes, I get to go with him and help move furniture," he smiled, flexing his muscles.
Eager to participate, Mary, 5, chimed in, "I like it when Dad gives me candy at his store. Skittles are my favorites."
As Linda, 7, agreed with her younger sister Mary, she added, "I like it when Dad takes us to a lot of places, and when we play Spoons." She explained that Spoons is a card game the family often plays during their game nights.
Melissa, 14, the family's teen, said, "He's nice. He's someone you can talk to, and he takes us on a lot of trips. He also plans a lot of things for us."
Touring their home, Rose explained with great detail her husband's various home improvement projects and the many thoughtful things he routinely performs.
Stepping into the laundry room, she said, "Dan has everyone bring their laundry in here, and then he does the laundry. He even folds the clothes." As a husband, "he's a romantic. We go out on a date once a week."
A member of the afternoon Rotary Club, a den leader for the Webelos, home decorator and organizer, and a business owner, it's a wonder this father of eight still finds time to plan family trips and incorporate new creative traditions.
Dan took his two oldest, Charlotte, 21, and David, 19, skydiving when they turned 18. For their graduation gifts, Charlotte and David chose their getaway destinations, leading one to Disney World in Florida and the other on a cruise to Hawaii. Dan plans to continue these unique traditions with the next six.
Under Dan's guidance, the family has enjoyed snowboarding, skiing, scuba diving, cross country road trips, camping, game nights, reading, and many other adventures.
As a proud papa, Dan immediately listed the names, ages, and strengths of his children.
"We really do have a good crop of kids. They have been a responsible lot." The rewards of the family are "when your kids make responsible choices; that's cool and a proud moment."
And at a young age, "the children are lovable and affectionate. They'll grow out of it, but will go back into being lovable and affectionate again," said Dan.