Bob Gudinas saw several models through the lens of his camera, but only one of them became his best friend and partner for life.
Bob had just gotten out of the Air Force and returned to his hometown, Gary, Ind., when he got a phone call that started it all.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
He says: “It was love at first sight.”
She says: “He was interesting.”
On our wedding day:
He says: “I was in hog heaven. I was happy that she accepted me and I was just joyful.”
She says: “I guess my biggest memory was of my dress. It was short and most people wore long gowns back then. And I remember walking down the aisle and seeing my husband standing there.”
My advice for a long happy marriage is:
He says: “Without sounding facetious or anything I would say that she may not always be right but she’s the boss.”
She says: “You have to be compatible and you have to have good communication.”
"I was playing around with photography and from this one modeling school up in Indiana, in Gary, this lady knew I was taking pictures and she asked me to come up there and take some pictures of her class of students," says Bob, who was 26.
This was an attractive offer in itself for Bob and, of course, several of the women he photographed for Evelyn's House of Charm were pretty.
The women modeled on runways and at events -- such as boat shows and other events in Chicago and Gary -- as well as in store windows, posing in clothing from the stores for people who were passing by.
He met Nancy Nestor during a photo shoot on the beach at Lake Michigan. Nancy is about five years younger than Bob, and though they had grown up in the same city they went to different schools at different times and their paths had never crossed.
"I guess you would call this love at first sight, more or less," Bob says. "It was her friendliness, her smile and just the aura around her. She was just good to be with. The others were just more like a business. She was more like a friend."
He photographed her modeling bathing suits and fancy frocks, but he would soon come to appreciate a more casual look -- trendy poodle skirts and the like.
They can't remember how their first date came about, but Nancy thinks they might have gone off for a bite to eat after a photo shoot.
"I would take her out and shoot some pictures over at Lake Michigan and at the different sites and we just started seeing each other," he says. "I took more pictures of her than I did of the other girls."
Their first date was to a drive-in hamburger place, where they sat and talked for hours.
They started spending time together without the camera -- riding horses, going bowling, skating, shopping, having burgers at the drive-in and spending the occasional evening at the drive-in movie theater.
"He was good-looking and we had a good time together," Nancy says. "I guess we just loved each other at first sight."
After dating for six months, they knew they wanted to be together.
"We had just talked about it and one day we decided to get engaged and get married," Nancy says. "There was no big fancy thing because back then you really didn't do that."
Bob remembers it being a bit more drawn out.
"I asked her if she would marry me and she said she would have to think about it. She finally said OK," he says, remembering that her parents thought she was too young to get married. "We had more trouble convincing her folks than her and I."
They exchanged their vows on March 3, 1962, at 43rd Avenue Presbyterian Church in Gary.
"We were young and didn't have much going for us as far as finances so it was a smaller size wedding, more or less our families and a few of the friends," he says.
They drove to Wisconsin for a honeymoon in a cabin on a lake.
"On the way up there our old car froze up on us so there was a little excitement on that," Bob says. "A couple helped us get to our place and then I had a relative come and get the car and he repaired it for us."
Nancy and Bob moved from Gary to Pearcy, Ark., in 1972, when he was recruited to run a chain of fast food restaurants.
These days he is semi-retired, working two days a week for the Thrifty Nickel and for West Shores Retirement Community in Hot Springs.
"It's just to keep me active. When you get old you have to keep moving or rigor mortis will set in," Bob quips.
Nancy, too, works part time for West Shores Retirement Community.
They have two children -- Robin Williams of Longview, Texas, and Tami Hill of Pearcy. They also have three grandchildren -- Kevin Shaw, Greg Hill and Trase Hendrix.
Nancy has kept the photos that Bob took of her in those early days of their courtship.
"I've got a scrapbook someplace of all my modeling stuff but in the process of moving, you know, things get lost," Nancy says. "I have them, but I'm not sure where they are."
She says they enjoy a slower pace of life these days.
"Bob loves flea marketing and I just kind of work and do the housewife thing and shopping. That's part of my fun life," she says.
Fortunately for their family, Bob continued to take pictures over the years.
"I just liked photography so I was taking pictures of her and of the kids when they were born," he says. "It was just my hobby and I often took quite a few pictures, period. We have a lot of family photos."
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Nancy and Bob Gudinas celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary March 3. They are planning a delayed trip to Branson. “That’s one of our go-to places. We like to go up there and see the shows,” Nancy says.
Bob Gudinas has taken countless photos of his wife, Nancy, over the years. This one, taken in 1961, was one of the professional modeling shots that brought them together.
High Profile on 03/11/2018
Print Headline: Other models were business but she was a friend