DAVID COLUMBUS GARDINER, 102, passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 26, 2021, at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home in Augusta, GA. Born in Fayetteville, TN, on November 12, 1918, the day after the Armistice that ended World War I, he was the son of Clarence French Gardiner and Rossie Wright Weller Gardiner. He was predeceased by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Neal, his sisters Helen Pickens and Martha Freeman, and his brothers William and Charles. He is survived by one sister, Betty Tribble, of Silver Spring, MD; sisters-in-law, Elizabeth Underwood Gardiner of Tuscumbia, AL, and Carol Gardiner of Good Hope, GA; his four children: David Neal Gardiner of Mill Valley, CA; Thomas Clifford Gardiner of Augusta; Edith Margaret Gardiner (Jonathan G. Izant II) of Seattle, WA; and Mary Beth Gardiner (Paul Fetters) of Arnold, MD, as well as many nieces and nephews and their children.
David graduated from Auburn University in 1941 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture and a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served his country in World War II as a member of an anti-aircraft barrage balloon unit in Hawaii, then as commander of an anti-aircraft battery in the Philippines and finally in Okinawa, where he went ashore in the 7th wave. He was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Philippines Liberation Ribbon. In postwar years he found his occupational niche as a cotton marketing specialist for the USDA, managing offices in Augusta and Macon before retiring in 1983 as Superintendent of the Cotton Division for the state of Georgia.
David preferred hound dogs in his youth but learned to love his wife Mary Lib’s many cats. A frustrated farmer, he made friends with county agents across the state of Georgia and brought home many a sack of produce fresh from the field. He loved golf. A highlight of every year was The Masters Tournament, where for 18 years he was a fixture on the 10th hole scoreboard, keeping the scores straight as a crew of youngsters scrambled to keep up with his directions. After retirement, he could be found three mornings a week at the Forest Hills Golf Course where he was a member, playing with good friends in a regular foursome. He shot his age routinely in later years before he put away his clubs for good.
David lived a life of responsibility and compassion. He learned hard work growing up in rural Alabama. He helped his widowed mother raise his younger siblings and worked to keep the household afloat during the Great Depression and after the War. He showed special concern for the elderly, caring for his mother-in-law at a difficult time and actively staying in touch with relatives and friends as they aged. He was proud of his children, who learned integrity and dependability from his example. He occupied a place of honor at Gardiner family reunions. On his 100th birthday, family from far and wide gathered to celebrate the event. He faced aging with fortitude and good humor. Never ostentatious, he was a humble and hard-working family man who put others before himself. He will be sorely missed.
The family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to the doctors, nurses, and especially the certified nursing assistants at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home who cared for him and appreciated his unique sense of humor. The family also appreciates private sitter Micheal Hill, and extends special gratitude to Odessa Taylor, who cared for him the longest, with patience, love, and devotion.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in David’s name to the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home in Augusta (Resident Benefits Fund). A private family interment is planned at Westover Memorial Park.
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