The Way We Were: Bob and Melody Bachman

The Way We Were: Bob and Melody Bachman
Bachman Family October 9, 2020

Bob and Melody Bachman have history here. But it didn’t begin with them.

Bob’s mom, Margaret Ruth Kelly-Bachman, grew up from the age of 3 in a house her dad had built on Alcazar Avenue in Grenada. She was a student at Hendricks Avenue Elementary School when it was still new. Her mom, Bob’s maternal grandmother, Margaret Kelly (she named her daughter Margaret Ruth), was a teacher there.

Bob’s father, Bob Bachman, Sr., was a basketball player for Landon High School, class of 1955. That’s where he met Bob’s mother. They married while they were students at the University of Florida. Bob was born in Gainesville while his dad was in his last year of pharmacy school there.

A year after their son was born, Bob, Sr. and Margaret Ruth moved back to Jacksonville. Bob, Sr. bought a pharmacy from Hugh Sellers in the Nasrallah Building on Park Street, which is now called Whiteway Corner. Bob, Jr. attended Holiday Hill Elementary and Landon Middle School. At the age of fourteen, he moved with his family from Jacksonville to Tampa.

Melody is a native Tampa girl who spent much of her young life and many holidays visiting grandparents and extended family in the Jacksonville area. Her paternal grandparents had emigrated from Syria to Jacksonville. Her dad, Herbert Nasrallah, was born and raised here. He attended Robert E. Lee High School in the late 1940s and played on their basketball team before marrying her mom, Rachel.

Melody’s maternal family was from Macclenny, just west of Jacksonville, and they did all of their shopping in Jacksonville because there was nothing in Macclenny back then.

In addition to grandparents and stores, Jacksonville held another attraction for Melody. “My favorite cousins were here, the Prices,” she said of the four children born to her father’s sister, Aunt Gloria Nasrallah-Price, and her husband, Uncle Henry Price, a Jacksonville builder.

It was a blind date in high school that brought Bob and Melody together. He was a senior at King High and she was a junior at the Academy of the Holy Names, both in Tampa. The two went out for the first time with Bob’s swim teammate and Melody’s best girlfriend. The four went to the theatre to see Airplane before enjoying a pizza afterwards. According to Melody, their attraction was “pretty much” instantaneous. Bob invited her the following morning to go waterskiing at his grandparents’ lake house in Carrollwood.

While they were dating, Bob and Melody learned of their families’ intertwining. As a young boy, Bob’s dad used to watch Melody’s teenage dad play basketball for Lee. There was a six-year age difference between the two. Further, when Bob’s father was a grown working man, the building in which his pharmacy was located was one that had been built by Melody’s paternal grandfather. Grandpa and Grandma Nasrallah lived a few doors down from that building. As a pre-teen, Bob would work on Saturdays for his dad at the pharmacy. One of his chores was to deliver the monthly rent check to the landlord up the block. He was paying Melody’s grandmother. This all happened long before Bob and Melody ever met as high schoolers in Tampa.

Bob and Melody Bachman September 24, 1982
Bob and Melody Bachman September 24, 1982

After high school, Bob attended the University of Florida as a marketing major. He pledged to Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Melody attended one year of college in Valdosta, Georgia and three more at Santa Fe in Gainesville to become a dental hygienist.

After college graduation, they each continued living separately in Gainesville while Bob extended his schooling for a building construction license, the same career field that Melody’s grandfather, father, and uncles had pursued.

They married at an episcopal church in Tampa on September 24, 1982. A reception followed at the Tampa Women’s Club on Bayshore Boulevard. “It looked kinda like My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Melody said, alluding to the blockbuster movie of 2002 and referring to her large, Arabic family with 26 first cousins.

Hannah, Natalie, and Joshua Bachman
Hannah, Natalie, and Joshua Bachman

After two years as a married couple in Gainesville, Bob and Melody decided on a move to Jacksonville for its building industry opportunities. Melody was pregnant with their first child at that time. Her labor began on moving day. So, their son, Joshua, was born in Gainesville while Melody’s mom unpacked moving boxes in an apartment on Old Kings Road in Jacksonville, awaiting the new parents and baby. Five months later, the young family moved into a house bought in Miramar. Now, 35 years later, Bob and Melody still live there. In the interim, they had two more children, both girls, Natalie and Hannah.

Melody put her dental hygiene degree to good use, working for eight years with Dr. Craig Kelly, a dentist located on Hendricks Avenue in San Marco. She quit when Hannah was born. For the past 28 years, she’s been with Pampered Chef, doing in-home cooking demonstrations. For her expertise, she’s earned multiple trips around the world through the company’s incentive plan. She and Bob have been able to visit countries like France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, and more.

Aside from a brief break, Bob has worked in residential construction for his entire career. He was with a few large companies before a three-year stint on staff at Operation New Hope, a nonprofit started in 1999 by his fraternity brother, Kevin Gay, a Jacksonville native. Bob’s job there was gutting old homes and building them new again. From there, Bob went to another local nonprofit, Jacksonville Housing Partnership, and ran their construction department.

In 2006, Bob went into business together with Melody’s Uncle Henry Price, building custom homes, before the elder retired three years later. Today, the company is known as Bachman Distinctive Homes. For the past seven years, Melody has been working there with Bob. “She’s been great. She was the part of the business that I was really missing,” Bob said, repeating the words of his good friend. Distinctive builds as well as renovates. The latter has become more popular since the housing crash of 2008.

Raising three children in Jacksonville in the ‘80s and ‘90s led to a lot of long-term, close-knit relationships for the Bachmans. “You always meet your really good friends through your kids,” Bob said. All three of their children attended Southside United Methodist Preschool. That’s how they met the Andrews and the Boyers. Joshua played baseball for HAB, Hendricks Avenue Baptist, and that’s how they met the Carluccis. All three families’ lives remain interwoven. Melody misses that they don’t do as much together as they used to due to COVID restrictions.

Melody and Bob Bachman June 5, 2019
Melody and Bob Bachman June 5, 2019

In addition to the people, the Bachmans love the reputable schools here in Jacksonville, San Marco Square, and the overall neighborhood feel. They do a lot of walking around the area and are active members of Lakewood United Methodist Church. They like that the neighborhoods don’t change too much due to overbuilding like is seen in other areas. “You can’t really overbuild because you’re landlocked, which is not a bad thing. That’s been really beneficial to us because we do a lot of renovating of homes,” Melody said.

Over the years, the Bachmans have noticed many changes south of them in Mandarin and surrounding areas. Bob remembers as a young boy taking Sunday afternoon drives with his family to Mandarin because that was in the woods.

Bob and Melody’s three grown and married children live in Orlando within minutes from each other. “So, it’s easy when we go down to visit them,” Melody said. They have given the couple a combined total of five grandchildren. A natural question they’re often asked is whether Grandma and Grandpa Bachman will move to Orlando from Jacksonville. “But this is where our friends are, and it’s easy to get to Orlando to visit. They like their space, and we like ours,” Melody says in reply.

When the grandchildren are a little older, Melody hopes to revive an old Christmas Eve tradition of the entire family and neighborhood friends gathering at Bob and Melody’s Miramar home for a party with homemade eggnog from a generations-old family recipe as the highlight. But in the interim, the Bachmans are content with the Orlando commute. 

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

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