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When Curtis Guynn celebrated his 80th birthday Oct. 10 with a surprise party, his family and friends made sure to highlight the myriad accomplishments he has made throughout his life. 

As the group ate at MCL Restaurant and Bakery, Guynn’s oldest grandchild, Elysha, read proclamations from Rep. André Carson, Knights of Peter Claver and the Indianapolis Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., honoring Guynn’s accomplishments. 

For 36 years, Guynn worked as a multifamily production program assistant for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Guynn also moonlighted as a freelance photographer for the Recorder for 38 years. He’s been a fan of photography from the time he was in high school, a hobby he picked up from his two older brothers. 

“I don’t feel as if I’m just taking pictures,” he told the Recorder in 2005. “I feel like I’m carrying on a tradition. … The images I capture will be a part of history forever.”

Throughout the birthday celebration, which included a custom-made Nikon camera cake from a family friend, Guynn and his four children glanced through photo albums depicting Guynn’s life and career, which included a deployment in Korea.

Guynn’s active role in the community inspired his children to follow in his footsteps. 

“When we grew up, community involvement is all we knew,” Anita Bardo, Guynn’s oldest child, said. “Dad was always working, always taking pictures. Sometimes we’d go on shoots with him. It’s a gift that we don’t ever take for granted.”

Bardo said she remains involved in the local community, working as the youth director for St. Rita’s Catholic Church, where Guynn is also an active member. 

“He’s just an awesome dad,” Bardo said. “He’s one of those fathers that doesn’t like a lot of hoopla. We thought he was going to be upset about the surprise party. He just likes everything calm and peaceful and likes being with his family.”

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