The Way We Were: Saundra & Bob Kidd

The Way We Were: Saundra & Bob Kidd
Kidd family cooking breakfast at St. Mark’s, 2018; Left to Right Back: Bob, Saundra, Andy, Katie, Tiffany (Post), and Shaun (Post); Left to Right Front: Maggie and Emily

They are a couple who came to Jacksonville and didn’t leave, who raised a family with sports and church at its center, and whose love has taken them around the globe and back again.

They are Saundra and Bob Kidd of Ortega.

Saundra Bozeman Kidd is originally from Montgomery, Alabama where she grew up with two brothers. “I’m the oldest but don’t admit it,” she said. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in mathematics and came down to Florida to visit a girlfriend, Carol Perpall, a former classmate from Huntingdon College. While in Jacksonville for the weekend, Saundra learned there was a shortage of math teachers in the area. She decided to take a position here, changing her original plan of moving to Atlanta, Georgia to teach.

Bob Kidd was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri as the big brother to one sister. He came to Jacksonville in May 1968 to join a squadron as a Navy P-3 pilot. “I was the one who was here legitimately. She was just here on a visit when we met,” he said, and they both chuckled.

Saundra and Bob met in February 1970 at a social event at Naval Air Station Jacksonville Officers Club. Stars and Bars, as it was called back then, was a Saturday night opportunity for bachelor officers and eligible young ladies to “what kids would call today ‘hook up,’” Bob explained.

After their first meeting, Bob would make excuses to see Saundra again and again. A good one was that Carol had a piano in her home where Saundra was staying, and Bob liked to practice his musical talents. But then, his squadron deployed to Spain. Carol and Saundra decided to take a month-long trip to Europe. In Madrid, Bob and Saundra were engaged.

The Kidds with Rev. Bob Hubbard, Navy chaplain, Oct. 10, 1970
The Kidds with Rev. Bob Hubbard, Navy chaplain, Oct. 10, 1970

They returned to Jacksonville, but within months, Bob was sent by the Navy to Sicily. Before he left, he married Saundra on October 10, 1970 in a chapel on what was then called Cecil Field. Today, it’s where the POW/MIA Memorial & Museum is located. The chapel still stands and is called Chapel of the High-Speed Pass. In it is a pew that bears the Kidds’ names.

Just as she had followed him to Spain, Saundra followed Bob to Italy. They lived there for six months after honeymooning in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. When Bob’s naval duty was done there, they returned to Jacksonville before his next transfer, to Maryland this time for a couple of years.

In 1973, Bob left active military duty as a lieutenant. He and Saundra came back again to Jacksonville, started a family, and have remained here to this day. They began in Ortega in a condo behind Roosevelt Square. They bought a house on Ortega Forest Drive in November 1977, a month prior to the birth of their first child, and have not yet left.

Saundra and Bob with children Tiffany and Andy, 1982
Saundra and Bob with children Tiffany and Andy, 1982

Saundra gave birth to both of their children, Tiffany and Andy, at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Raising them, Bob said, “was probably a lot easier then than it is now. We didn’t have anything like COVID.”

“It was a quieter time in Jacksonville,” Saundra said. There were fewer restaurants and half as many hospitals, more open spaces where kids would run and play.

“It was so simple back then. Jacksonville was not a really big metropolitan-type city like we’re becoming now,” Bob said. He recalled flying from the Naval Air Station toward the Atlantic over miles of undeveloped land that is now all filled in and bustling.

Saundra misses the days of going to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park out at the beach and camping as a young family. Most of their time, however, was spent on sports. Their children played three sports each, and both earned 11 letters at Episcopal School. Tiffany played volleyball, softball, and soccer. Andy played soccer, football, and baseball. Saundra reminisced about many Friday nights—the family leaving a football field in Jacksonville and driving to Orlando to spend the night for a soccer competition early the next morning because Andy played on a travelling team. Today, their son is the athletic director at Episcopal.

As the children were growing, Bob often coached their teams; five were for basketball through the YMCA. “I had never played soccer in my life, but I coached 10 soccer teams,” he said. Unlike today when many school coaches are on salary, back then, these were volunteer positions through the Ortega Stockton Athletic Association (OSAA). The games were held mainly at John Stockton and Venetia Elementary Schools. The Kidds noted how today’s children’s sports are played on gigantic fields and it’s a business. Then, it was an activity. “The kids just had fun. It wasn’t nearly as intense as it is now,” Bob said.

When he wasn’t having fun on the field as a coach, Bob was pursuing his military career. He had joined the Navy Reserves as a captain until his 1989 retirement. Simultaneously, with a degree in journalism, he did a brief stint with the Florida Times-Union before working seven years in the communications field at St. Vincent’s. In 1980, Bob earned an MBA degree at the University of North Florida. From there, “I decided to hang out my own shingle doing public relations, marketing, and publishing,” he said. Bob retired in 2015.

The Kidds on Easter Sunday, 1988
The Kidds on Easter Sunday, 1988

As a family, the Kidds considered St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Ortega their home church for 42 years. After working for 27 years in the insurance business, first with Prudential and then with Aetna, Saundra was ordained as a deacon in May 2016 and assigned to St. Mark’s. “I always felt that calling, but it wasn’t until I had met Bob that I became an Episcopalian and fell in love with the church. Before that, I was an Alabama Baptist,” she said, unlike Bob who calls himself “a cradle Episcopalian.”

Saundra has made seven mission trips with St. Mark’s, and Bob has made two. They taught vacation bible school at St. Mark’s sister church, St. Mary’s, in Itabo, a little town in Cuba.

In June 2020, Saundra was transferred to St. John’s Cathedral downtown, where she serves today in outreach and pastoral care. To support his wife in her re-assignment, Bob is now a parishioner there, although their grown children still attend St. Mark’s. Bob was a member of the West Jacksonville Rotary for 42 years, and he is a new member of the Riverside Rotary. He is also past president and current board member of the Jacksonville Council of the Navy League, having been with the organization for over two decades.

Saundra and Bob’s enthusiasm for sports did not end once their children were grown. In fact, as a family, the Kidds were Jaguars season ticket holders for the first 25 years since the team’s inception in 1995. Bob admitted to their being “gluttons for punishment,” following the Jaguars, but they have enjoyed many tailgate parties with friends.

Saundra and Bob Kidd overlooking Jerusalem, 2011
Saundra and Bob Kidd overlooking Jerusalem, 2011
Saundra and Bob on the Great Wall of China outside Beijing, 2006

Family, sports, and church have been mainstays in Saundra and Bob’ life together. Travelling is another thread woven into their tapestry. They had taken a few cruises with their son and daughter when they were young, but it wasn’t until their children were grown and on their own that Saundra and Bob began taking frequent trips abroad, sometimes two or three per year. They’ve been to Italy, China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and the list goes on. But all of that was done pre-pandemic.

These days, Saundra and Bob’s home remains as active as ever. They have three dogs and one cat, all with people names: Abigail, Isabella, Maximus, and Gracie. Tiffany and her husband live just one mile away. Andy, his wife, and their two daughters live not much farther away than that. “That makes it real easy,” Bob said. He and Saundra get to see all of them often. Their granddaughters, now 10 and 13, are both involved in three sports, just as their dad and aunt had been—soccer, volleyball, and basketball.

October 10, 2021 marks Saundra and Bob’s 51st wedding anniversary. When asked the secret of the longevity of their marriage, Bob shared his personal philosophy—that because their own parents had stayed together, that became the expectation for them. Neither of them had ever experienced divorce; there was not a lot of that back in the 70s when they married. “Have there been rough spots? Sure, with both of us working and raising kids,” Bob admitted. “But if you believe what you say when you give your wedding vows, you’re gonna give it everything you got,” he said.

Saundra agreed and added, “Just remember to talk to each other. Well, not so much to talk, but to listen and to understand. Respect differences,” she said.

“And learn when to declare a time out, when you’re just not understanding,” Bob concluded.

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

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