Keeping busy: Paradise Councilman enjoys wood shop hobby

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, February 15, 2014

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The warmer temperatures in the weekend forecast enabled Wise County residents to plan for yard work, barbecues and time outside.

For Bob Gayan of Paradise, that means more time in his wood shop.

Longtime Hobby

LONGTIME HOBBY – As weather permits, Bob Gayan of Paradise spends a lot of his time in his wood shop. Although he’s always built things, it wasn’t until he retired that he obtained the needed equipment and time. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“If it’s too cold, you can’t glue anything because it freezes,” he said. “You can’t paint because it’ll just stick, and the paint won’t blend out. I do have a gas heater that I put out there, but it doesn’t do much good when the temperature is like 20 degrees. But when it gets above 40, it does.”

With highs of 66 and 73 degrees and lows of 39 and 55 expected Saturday and Sunday, Gayan had plenty of time for his hobby this weekend.

“I just like to make stuff – shelves, hutches, vanities, jewelry boxes,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for 15 to 20 years, but I’ve built stuff all along.”

After graduating high school, the northern Michigan native enlisted in the U.S. Army.

He underwent basic training at Fort Riley in Kansas before transferring to Fort Bliss in El Paso and later to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth in July 1954.

“I was stationed there until Christmas of 1956,” he said. “During that time is when I met my wife, and we got married.

Gayan and his bride, Donna Rogers of Haltom City, headed north.

“We would’ve moved to Michigan, but there was no work there,” he said. “The iron ore mines were all closed… I really didn’t want to go underground anyway and work iron ore mines. It was all underground.”

So the newlyweds settled in Milwaukee. He went to work for a supplier for Bell Telephone. While he was there, he applied for the city’s police department.

“It took about four months to get on, and I was on there almost 10 years.” he said.

In 1966, the Gayans returned to Texas to visit family – and stayed.

“We saw that the cost of living was cheaper,” he said.

Bob worked at General Dynamics until he was laid off, then he went to work for Bell Helicopter and was again let go.

“When you work for the military, you’re just a number,” he said. “They go to a certain number, and that’s it. You’re out the door.”

He returned to General Dynamics – now Lockheed Martin. In 1997, he retired from the company after stints in assembly, the test lab and the flight line, which readied the F-16 fighter jets for flight and delivery.

As a distraction from work – whether it was making traffic stops or assembling airplanes – he found solace in his woodshop.


WOODWORKER – Gayan’s projects range from large items like kitchen islands and hutches to small crafts like jewelry boxes and small safes made out of old post office boxes. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

But it wasn’t until retirement, when he obtained the equipment and the time to utilize it, that he really took to the hobby.

“It’s something I’ve always piddled around with, but I didn’t get much time and equipment until after I retired,” he said.

Now, depending on the weather, he spends an hour or two several times a week – every day during the summer – in his shop assembling a variety of items – corner boards, cupboards, birdhouses, jewelry boxes and shelves.

He favors making banks using old post office boxes that he orders off the Internet.

And while he can make impressive headboards, vanities, hutches and even kitchen islands, he prefers the smaller projects.

“Once in a while someone will bring me a chair that’s broken, and I’ll fix it for them,” he said. “I like doing stuff like that. I prefer making the small types of things. They don’t take too long. When you start making something big, you need help.”

Until her death in 2007, Bob received that help from his wife. Donna and Bob would collaborate on their projects.

“I’d make them, she’d paint them,” he said.

Now he has the help of a neighbor, with whom he also works out four days a week at Fit-N-Wise.

In addition to the regimented workouts, Bob serves on the city council and Paradise Economic Development Corp. board.

He’s volunteered on the fire department, school board and planning and zoning.

But when there’s down-time, as long as the weather allows, you’ll find him in his shop.

“You have to keep busy or you might as well get buried,” he said.

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