By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now
NEWTON—Robert “Guero” Sandoval was buried in a bright red Kansas City Chiefs shirt this week.
The 75-year-old Newton native died on Tuesday, Aug. 24. He loved the Chiefs. As a matter of fact, the Friday after he died, his oldest son, Anthony, and nephew Marcel Martinez brought Bob to the Chiefs preseason game in Kansas City by way of having his photo on a phone in the bleachers.
“He never liked wearing suits,” Bob’s wife, Mona, said. “The only time he wore a suit was at [our sons’] weddings.”
People asked Mona if her husband was going to be buried in a suit and she said, “No.”
Bob and his wife, Mona, were married for decades.
“This would’ve been 53 years this year,” Mona said about their Sept. 7 anniversary.
Besides Mona and the rest of his family, another love in Bob’s life was photography. One time, he told a granddaughter, who liked K-State, when she was 6 to stand near a KU blanket on the wall and say, “K-State is No. 1!” giving the No. 1 sign. She did and he took a photo.
“He showed it to her and she just cried,” Mona said, as it appeared she was motioning KU is No. 1. Now, that young woman attends K-State.
Mona showed a photo of Bob when he was a kid sticking his tongue out. She said when he took photos of people when he was an adult, he always wanted everyone to stand perfectly.
“He was very active and liked to be involved in a lot of things,” Mona said. “Mostly with the grandkids, he was always at their sports taking pictures.”
She said he used to go onto the field to take photos, such as Newton High School softball games.
A few weeks ago, Bob was in Athletic Park taking photos of women’s football, his brother-in-law Stan Estrada said.
“He was all over that field,” Estrada said, meaning Bob drove his golf cart all over the field. “It was like an eight-man football team, so you had room.”
Sometimes, he took photos on the sidelines of NHS football games, too, Mona said, as well as the 5K Cookie Run and Sand Creek Volleyball Tournament
At Halloween, Bob, or “Guero,” as his friends called him, which means “white boy,” set up a backdrop and took photos of kids in costumes.
“Some of those kids he took from the time they were little to when they were teenagers,” Mona said. “They knew they would get a full-size candy bar and their picture taken.”
He’d tell the kids to come back to get their photos. His youngest son, Jimmy Sandoval, said his dad used to get them printed at Walmart and bring them back.
Bob also was involved in the Newton Mexican American Athletic Club for several years, Mona said.
“That was something he really enjoyed doing,” she said, adding that during the tournaments, he used to pick up elderly folks and give them rides to the field.
“He loved sports,” she said. “He was on a bowling team and of course, when he was younger when we had our boys when they were little, he was on the Holy Name fastpitch softball team. He was the catcher.”
Bob also did a lot of umpiring for the rec center after he quit catching.
“He is in the Newton MAC Softball Hall of Fame for being an umpire,” Mona said, adding he used to get umpires together for the tournament.
He also enjoyed golfing and his brother-in-law, Sid Unruh, was his golfing buddy.
Mona said the other thing Bob liked to do with the golf cart was take the grandkids around on it.
“They liked to come because they liked to ride around on Papa’s golf cart,” Mona said. “He thought it was fun. We thought it was dangerous.”
One place he liked to go was the Lincoln Park playground on West Sixth Street.
“That is one thing he enjoyed with his grandkids,” Mona said. “He loved his grandkids.”
Jimmy said his dad also liked to “play argue” with the grandchildren.
‘Get ’em all wound up,” Mona added.
He loved them. He loved his wife.
“He had a tattoo of my mom’s name,” Jimmy said, motioning to his top left arm.
Mona said he did one himself there first and then covered that one with up her name when he was in his late 60s.
The tattoo has a big banner.
One of Bob’s friends, Mike White, said he got to know Bob when White was director of entertainment and operations for the Newton High School class of 1965 efforts at the Fox Theater in Newton. Bob was a member of that class. The class knew White because of his sister.
“Dan Suderman knew I had booking experience,” White said. “He was director of the Fox Theatre. There’s never been anything in town he hadn’t done. He was always giving to the community.”
White said he’s proud Bob was his friend.
“He will be missed,” he said. “He had a great sense of humor. That’s one thing I’ll miss.”
Bob was always electronically sending him jokes.
“One of the last ones I got was around midnight and he was like, ‘You’re up, huh?’ He was just an all-around great guy.”
White also said his friend took care of a blind man for years, taking him places like Back Alley Pizza.
“That’s just the way he was,” White said. “He was real good at shooting sports. He was good at catching the action.”
He helped a lot of people, including neighbors, his church and community.
“They don’t make ’em like him anymore,” White said.
Bob also was on the Newton Downtown Car Show board for eight years, White said.
White isn’t the only one who thought highly of Bob. Lisa Barham said he was married to one of her mom’s classmates from the NHS class of 1965.
“He was a very nice man,” she said. “Had a great sense of humor. He loved his family. I remember joking with me, just being kind of ornery.”
Robert Jasso recalled a funny story about Bob.
“I will always remember when Guero told everyone the time he outran the local cops with his hotrod for just a little fun,” he said. “The funniest part was when he pulled up to his house on Sixth Street only to find the cops waiting for him because everyone knew where the Sandovals lived, across the street from O.L.G. ballpark. The cops didn’t arrest him. It was all in good fun, back in the day.”