Podiatrist, humanitarian, father of four, and grandfather to seven, he was born on February 27, 1935, in Sunnyside and has called Rego Park home for nearly 70 years, which is where he practiced medicine for 56 years. For Gudeon, his occupation is more than a career.
“It was never work, but a passion,” he said. “To this day, I wake up and look forward to heading to my office, where I consider most of my patients friends who I can help lose pain and keep on their feet.”
For a period of eight months post-9/11, Gudeon organized a voluntary podiatry station with other medical and non-medical volunteers at St. Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero, where he treated foot and ankle injuries and other conditions of first responders.
His leadership was recognized in three exhibits at the 9/11 Memorial Museum dedicated to the recovery efforts. Visitors can see a photo of Gudeon treating a first responder, as well as listen to six brief volunteer and responder interviews. In a display case is his ID badge, embellished with a drawing of his practice’s “happy foot” logo.
“Many of us still meet for reunions and lunches every 9/11 and at various events,” he said.
Gudeon's father, grandfather, and uncles were dentists, but he did not consider dentistry his calling.
“Being most interested in tennis, and after discussing it with a family friend, also a Rego Park podiatrist, I decided that podiatry would be the perfect profession,” said Gudeon, who has treated professional tennis players including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Ivan Lendl.
Gudeon attended PS 139, was a member of Halsey JHS 157’s first graduating class, and graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1952, followed by NYU in 1956. In 1960, he graduated cum laude from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, where various teachers and mentors helped shape his career.
“Their influence convinced me about the importance of giving back, which flowed into my years of teaching at my alma mater and at local hospital surgical residency programs,” he said. “I remain an ambassador, opening my office to interns and externs who often shadow me.
“I love working and hanging out with my ‘Podiakids,’ both inside and outside of the office, and watching them become respected colleagues,” he added.
Despite his success, he has also faced horrible challenges. In 2010, his second wife Susan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and faced a diagnosis of six to eight months to live.
“Sue beat the odds and battled valiantly for almost three years, before passing in December 2012,” Gudeon said. “She remained upbeat and in amazingly good humor until the end.”
While Susan underwent chemotherapy, they became aware of the Lustgarten Foundation, which raises funds for treatment research.
“We joined and formed a team named Sue's Crewsers, since she frequently cruised, and we solicited donations over blast emails and participated in the 5K Lustgarten walks with our team of supportive family members and friends,” Gudeon said.
That tradition continues, and over $50,000 has been raised so far and his daughter Andrea coordinates the Sue's Crewsers DC team for PurpleStride in Washington.
Andrea runs the media department of a medical news publication, while his children Karla and Adam are well-recognized artists who write and illustrate children's books.
His daughter Marilyn is a teacher specializing in working with autistic children, and his oldest grandson Sam graduated from college last year and was “grabbed up for a super job.”
At 81, Gudeon’s goal is to remain healthy by exercising his body and mind, hoping to never retire his podiatry practice. Items on his bucket list were recently crossed off, including skydiving and whitewater rafting.
At least three times a week he plays tennis, and is an active member of the Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens “Our Communities” Facebook group.
“I meet with friends for frequent meals at our local ethnic restaurants, and of course the Shalimar Diner and Ben's Best Deli,” he said.