Dr. Nesty was born and raised in Brazil, a rural southwestern Indiana town of about 8,000 people. Farming and coal mining were the major industries, the outdoors was a way of life. This area of Indiana is rich in coal and clay as a result there are many “strip pits” furnishing great habitat for, not only fish, but also all forms of game. This is where “Doc”, as his friends call him, grew up. He attended a small rural high school where he played basketball and graduated with honors. Doc became interested in the human eye and vision in junior high school and made the decision in high school to pursue a career in optometry. While in high school, he became interested in fishing and never missed watching his heroes on early TV fishing shows. Doc still talks about his exposure to fishing watching Jerry McKinnis, Harold Ensley, Gadabout Gaddis, and others. Doc was hooked.
Doc’s father was an avid fan of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and took him to see his first Indy 500 at age 9. Doc was also hooked on motor sports from that early age.
Living 50 miles from the hub of racing in the USA helped to cultivate a love for automobiles, namely classic cars and hot rods. At age 13 Doc purchased his first car, a 1930 Ford Model A Coupe with a rumble seat, which he restored and enjoyed for a number of years. Then a 1940 Ford Sedan Deluxe was purchased, followed by a 1957 Corvette Fuel Injected Four Speed, and now a 1970 Chevrolet short bed pick-up truck.
After 2 years of pre-optometry Doc was the first applicant to be accepted to the Indiana University School of Optometry. At that time there were only nine optometry schools in the USA. Doc still fished when he could and never missed an IU home basketball game with Bobby Knight as the coach of the Hoosiers. After four years of study, Dr Nesty graduated with honors with a Doctor of Optometry degree. He headed home to set up private practice, get back to the “strip pits”, and coach high school boys basketball at the YMCA.
One of the first major purchases Doc made was a bass boat. This resulted in expanding his fishing from strip pits exclusively to include area reservoirs. He founded the first bass fishing club in Clay County Indiana and started tournament fishing on the club level. Doc realized early in his tournament fishing career that there were no sunglasses in the market that would significantly improve the fisherman’s performance on the water. This fact continued to haunt Doc as he came to know several professional fishermen who expressed to him their same thoughts. In May of 1994, with the encouragement of Tom Mann, Jr., Dr. Gary Nesty founded Solar Bat® Enterprises, Inc.
Doc soon became friends with Guido and Dion Hibdon along with other pros like Tommy Biffle, Larry Nixon, Davy Hite, and David Fritts and these fishing super stars became the initial Solar Bat® pro staff assisting in the development of a performance sunglass for fishermen.
With Solar Bat® established and making its name in the fishing market, Doc moved up to fishing Indiana tournament trails after several successful years of fishing tournaments on the club level. In 2000 Doc won the BASS Federation Top 8 Zone tournament qualifying him for the State tournament, hoping to qualify for the northern divisional. Doc did not make the State Team but vowed to get the job done the next year. In 2001 he again qualified for the State tournament and made the State Team. That State Team, of which Doc was captain, won the BASS Northern Divisional going away.
Doc’s time on the water began to diminish as he devoted more time to Solar Bat® and continued his busy practice of optometry. Solar Bat® had the opportunity to become a sunglass vendor at Wal-Mart and an associate sponsor of the FLW organization. Doc saw his chance to fish again while having the opportunity for testing on the water in the boat with the greatest pros in the USA. Doc got the opportunity to fish with famous pros such as Denny Brauer, Scott Martin, Kelly Jordan, and David Walker. Doc will tell you that, as a result of fishing the FLW as a co-angler for three years, Solar Bat ® developed the HiConYellow tint, the Mossback® and amber gradient tints, and many new frame styles. Dr. Nesty often asks people, “what other sunglass company do you know that is owned by an optometrist, who is a fishermen, and has done on-the-water research and testing with the greatest fishing pros in the USA?”
In 2009 Doc turned his attention to developing a performance line of sunglasses for tennis players. Again he sought out individuals who play in tournaments to assist him in the development of what he wanted to be the “greatest pair of sunglasses for playing tennis”. Then came Officially Licensed Chevrolet sunglasses and one of Doc’s biggest thrills came when we saw A.J. Foyt, one of his childhood heroes, wear his Officially Licensed Chevrolet 100thAnniversary sunglasses while driving the pace car at the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. Doc can often be heard telling people, “what’s your sport, what visual problems do you encounter, and how can I make you perform better visually? Just tell me and I will go to work.” This most recently resulted in a line of golf sunglasses. Doc has vowed to continue to develop sport specific sunglasses all the while still practicing optometry.
Dr Nesty still lives “out in the country” in Brazil, Indiana with his wife, Leesa. He still fishes “strip pits”, the Indiana H.O.T. Seniors Trail, and an occasional “money tournament”, enjoys hunting rabbits with his beloved beagles, and sees patients three days a week in his optometry practice. He has one daughter Mandy Shepherd who is the president of Solar Bat®. His family includes three grandchildren, Dylan who is an excellent golfer, Laney who is an excellent student, and Jared who no doubt will someday be a tournament winning fisherman. Most importantly, Doc will tell you that he owes all of his abilities and success to his Savior, Jesus Christ.