Catholic school sweethearts and supporters

Catholic school sweethearts and supporters

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Bob Nark first spotted his wife, Nancy, in the bleachers at Gloucester Catholic High School in 1966. He has never looked back.

“I wanted to send her a Valentine,” says Bob. “I found three listings for Basiaga [Nancy’s maiden name] in the area and started with the one in Bellmawr.”

When her father said he would get her on the phone, Bob knew he had hit the jackpot and hung up. He didn’t know Nancy had picked up the other extension and recognized his voice.

“They called me ‘Frog,’” said Bob, raising his eyebrows. Nancy laughed and confirmed his voice was unmistakable.

The call blew Bob’s cover for an anonymous valentine. Nancy pretended she didn’t know Bob when he started calling regularly, but she accepted his invitation to a Gloucester Catholic dance. Bob’s band played at the dance, so their date didn’t really start until he took Nancy home.

“We sat at my house and talked until four or five in the morning,” said Nancy. “I lost my voice.”

Bob and Nancy have been a steady couple since that dance more than 50 years ago.

Two grown children and 46 years of marriage are testament to their commitment, and they embody the promise of “in sickness and in health.” Nancy is a breast cancer survivor; Bob has endured two heart surgeries and lung cancer.

“He looks better than he did before any of that,” says Nancy, beaming.

It’s hard to imagine Bob, fit and energetic, struggling with the stairs to his chemistry classroom. The call to teach at his alma mater came in 1970, as Bob finished his senior year at Rutgers, Camden, the same year he and Nancy married.

“I wanted to go to medical school, but I didn’t get in,” said Bob. He’d never planned to teach chemistry but said he has been happier in his field than just about anyone he knows, including most doctors.

The Narks have made a life-long commitment to Catholic education and the Gloucester Catholic community. They sent their children to Annunciation, then Gloucester Catholic, chaperoned countless dances, received overwhelming support during their health challenges, and developed life-long friendships along the way.

They laugh about the year when Bob’s take-home pay decreased and speak in earnest about his side jobs — as a member of a wedding band and the summer job that evolved into ownership of a pool management company for 34 years.

“We had as many as 75 Gloucester Catholic students working as life guards,” said Nancy, master of the schedule for the 32 swim clubs they staffed. “They were great, responsible. We could trust them.”

Bob says the caliber of the students is directly related to their Catholic education in a caring, family environment.

“The kids love [the school]. The teachers love the kids. Academically, we’re better. We do more,” he said.

The Narks look forward to two Golden milestones in 2020 — their marriage and Bob’s 50th anniversary as a teacher at Gloucester Catholic. The couple agree they wouldn’t change a day in either place.

Mary Beth Peabody is Communications and Marketing Manager, Office of Catholic Schools.

Categories: Catholic School News

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