Gary Bruce Gardiner was born on September 21, 1948 in Brainerd, MN, to Paul L. and Marge P. (Robideau) Gardiner. He passed away on June 24, 2022 at the age of 73 in the Good Samaritan Society in Pine River, MN, after a brief battle with cancer.
Gary grew up in Pine River where he attended school and graduated from high school in 1966. He enjoyed playing the saxophone in band and was involved in the local Boy Scouts of America pack where he attained the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. He went on to attend Bemidji State University and transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he played in the marching band and graduated with a degree in History in June of 1972.
After college, Gary married his high school sweetheart, Linda Rexroad, and moved to Denver, Colorado. There he enjoyed many successes as a real estate agent. After the end of his marriage to Linda (Rexroad), Gary met and married Linda Jean Lentz. At that time, he adopted his only child, Linda’s son, Jason Sean. A skilled athlete, Gary found time to play racquetball at a competitive level as well as other sports including tennis, golf, and basketball. He was also an avid hunter and took Sean on many hunting and fishing trips.
In 1990, Gary married Janice Phelps and they moved from Colorado to Pine River to work in the family’s thriving Hardware Hank business. He eventually purchased the store that he and Janice have successfully run for over 25 years. Gary always had a keen business mind even in his final days.
During his time back in Minnesota, Gary developed a love of flying and obtained his private pilot’s license in December of 2007. He and Janice flew on many adventures including trips to Canada and Florida. Gary flew on many outdoor excursions to go pheasant hunting with his dogs and fishing with friends. He was trusted as the local airport commissioner and was instrumental in the revitalization and improvement of the Pine River airport.
Gary was always an advocate for supporting local community events and businesses. He was on the Board of Directors for Pine River State Bank and served as the announcer for the local duck races for many years. He was known as Mr. Duckman by all the community kids. In 2004 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Chamber of Commerce. Gary was unapologetically himself and would speak his mind in uncertain terms but you always knew where you stood. He was known by those closest to him for being generous to those in need, even when others didn’t know about it. He always enjoyed a good laugh and appreciated understated humor and exhibited a dry sense of humor himself.
Gary is survived by his wife, Janice, of Pine River; his son, Sean (Susan) of Kansas; and three granddaughters: Synclair (Alan) Delgado of Tennessee, Sayge Gardiner and Scotlyn Gardiner, both of Kansas. He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Marge Gardiner; his uncles and aunts, Kenny (Mody) Gardiner; Della (June) Kater; and Joyce Garza.
A Celebration of Life will be held from 3 to 5 PM on July 16 at the Pine River Legion. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Pine River Fire Department, P.O. Box 444, Pine River, MN 56474. Arrangements are with Kline Funeral Home, Pine River.