The first time I met Bob Pastor, he wore chef’s whites and a ’do rag (long before they were fashionable) as he flitted among the lunch crowd at his family’s eponymous restaurant in Lafayette’s Oil Center. I was a cub reporter, fresh out of college. He was an emerging force of nature: a raconteur, a caring host and style maven even then. The ease with which this gorgeous young man moved from table to table, chatting with oilmen, tennis ladies, newsmakers and socialites, was impressive. There wasn’t a stranger in the room. Bob was that rare conversationalist who listened as intently as he held court. And people loved him.
Bob always had an innate sense of style. Its most audacious expression was during Mardi Gras, of course. His contributions to the Krewe of Apollo are legend, from stage and costume design to choreographer, dancer and tableaux star. He ruled as Queen Apollo in 1986. He also co-founded the Krewe of Carnival en Rio and helped with the ensembles of countless members of other krewes. How many rhinestones and sequins can one person glue in a season? How many costume changes can one person do in a night? Bob had a nameplate waiting in that pantheon to Mardi Gras out there in The Great Beyond. I hope the angels are ready for a little bling.
He put that skill set to work in everyday life, too. Bob was the most prolific producer of runway style shows in Lafayette for decades, helping dozens of charities raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was the first call we made when we launched The Big Hair Ball (precursor to the INDStyle Awards) in 2006, and he relished the opportunity to paint on such a big canvas. Those events offered him a bigger toolbox than he had for any other style show: the full stage and runway at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, multi-media production capabilities, a sizeable budget for models, decor and other creative flourishes. He also became a mentor and dear friend to our Special Projects Director Robin Hebert, who produces the show.
“Bob was truly the brain and creative genius behind the scenes in everything we did together,” Hebert says. “He made me a better person and always had my back. He was there to hold my hand and touch my heart. That’s the kind of friendship he gave to me. He helped me be better in every way.” FaceBook was full of such tributes in the days leading up to Bob’s death from hemorrhagic stroke and liver complications in the early hours on Sunday morning. He was 56.
As decorator extraordinaire, Bob helped create glittering memories for dozens of families who hired Pastor & Co. to adorn everything from a simple front door to country estates for any holiday. Name the occasion, he was on call with his devoted support team that always included new trainees eager to work with the legendary Bob Pastor. And he never lost his touch in the kitchen. He catered home meals for busy moms and private sit-down soirées. His talents nurtured body and soul. He was always ready for a party, but that took its toll in the end.
It was abundantly evident in the final days what a big, loving and special family Maugie and Pat Pastor have raised and what a warm home Bob created with his longtime partner Randy Lanza. They were the foundation of his life and the support system for everything he did. They made sure, along with legions of friends, to celebrate his final birthday at his bedside the day before he died. It happened too fast and much too soon. Rest in peace, Bob Pastor. You’ll always be beautiful to those of us who knew you.