A father and his princess
Jun 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Almost everyday, after he gets home from working at Kay Jewelers in Elyria, Anthony Hunter reports to royalty.
But he’s happy to tirelessly serve his daughter Evalinah, 3, so they can live in an empire perfectly suited to both of them.
Together, the pair work more like a democracy than monarchy, as they transform their modest Harcourt Road home into a majestic palace. Beginning a few weeks ago, they’ve already made some noticeable progress, highlighted by removing wallpaper and painting walls.
“Daddy is building his princess a castle,” Anthony said. “This is not my house. This is her castle.”
During breaks from fixing up their home, the two also partake in traditional daddy-daughter activities, such as cooking their favorite foods, eggs and cake, with one another.
In fact, they plan on spending Father’s Day together at Cedar Point, zipping and slipping down water slides at Soak City.
“I am here for her always,” Anthony said.
Anthony, however, vigorously fought a battle in Erie County Common Pleas Court to become his daughter’s primary caregiver.
About two years ago, Anthony first noticed some troubling signs with Evalinah upon coming home during weekends while attending Bowling Green State University.
“Things were getting rough with her mom,” Anthony said. “My daughter was not hitting her milestones. She wasn’t walking or talking or crawling when she should have been.”
A lengthy court battle followed, which concluded with a judge awarding Anthony full custody of Evalinah about a year ago.
It’s a rare victory, considering how often men receive full custody of their child or children. In fact, while national statistics vary, it’s understood that anywhere between 10 percent to 20 percent of all fathers have been granted full custody by a court.
“I was actually shocked,” Anthony said. “It’s hard to get custody in the state of Ohio. But that’s what I think drove me more. I don’t care what the stats are. Her well-being should be the most important thing, and the judge realized that.”
Anthony also fought because he didn’t want Evalinah to have the same kind of father he did.
“My dad was in and out of my life, and that was one thing I vowed never to do,” Anthony said. “I want to be in her life as much as possible, and she is my primary responsibility.”
The 2008 Perkins High School graduate repeatedly reiterated the importance his mother, Sheila Winston, played in this process.
“I celebrate Father’s Day for my mom,” Anthony said. “My mom was my biggest teacher.”
Case in point: Anthony can braid and fix up Evalinah’s flowing blonde hair in a fancy fashion.
As she gets older, Anthony just wants to provide his only child with anything she wants.
“I don’t want her to have any limits in life because I grew up very limited,” Anthony said. “I grew up struggling. But my mom did what she had to do to make it work.”
Anthony also offered some advice to other single or separated parents fighting to win custody of their child or children.
“Your kids should be your first priority, and that is society’s biggest downfall," he said. "It can’t be about yourself.”