Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alan Jackson Gardiner 1921 - 2000

After the war was over he went to work in Schenectady, New York, working for General Electric. Sometime around 1952 he moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to start a radio station with a friend. His friend ran the station and Alan did the technical work to keep the station on the air. There was a young woman in his ward that Alan was interested in. her name was Bernadene Gibson Woodbury. In the spring of 1954 she moved to Snowflake, Arizona with her infant son. After he knew that she was single and available he made regular trips to Snowflake to see her. Bernadene’s young son, Russell was immediately drawn to him. They soon became fast friends. Alan and Bernadene were drawn to each other too. They were married civilly in Snowflake, Arizona on December 21, 1956. After their marriage they moved to Phoenix, Arizona. They were happy there.

Alan began working for a U.S. Government group that wanted to build a National Observatory in Arizona. He was away from home a lot doing research and helping the group find a site for the observatory. They finally settled on Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona. On March 26, 1958, Alan and Bernadene’s first child, a son was born. His name was LeRoy Alan Gardiner. Alan, Bernadene and Russell were thrilled! In May of 1958 the young family moved to Tucson, Arizona. Their home was outside the city limits, since the border was Craycroft, and they lived a few blocks east of it. There was a lot of desert around their home. Alan worked mostly on the campus of the University of Arizona, but occasionally had to drive up to Kitt Peak, which was a two hour drive away. The young family became active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the area. The Tucson Stake had been created just a couple of years earlier, and they were in the Tucson fifth ward. Some members of the ward lived near by so they had friends fairly quickly. Some of these families had sons the same age as the Gardiners’ sons. On June 7, 1959 another son was born; John Frederick Gardiner. John was a little sickly as a child. He was practically blind in one eye. He had to wear a patch over one eye for a while, and was teased by classmates because of this. In 1961, Alan and Bernadene decided it was time for them to be sealed together in the Mesa Temple. On June 3, 1961 they were sealed to each other and to their sons for time and all eternity. It was a sacred day. Alan adopted Russell as his own son. Alan always treated Russell as one of his own sons. Russell always considered Alan his father and never knew any other father. Russell has always been grateful that Alan treated him as one of his sons and not as a step son. 

Alan loved to go camping, fishing and hunting. The family spent many happy days camping in the White Mountains near Show Low, Arizona. Alan was never happier than when fishing along a stream. His sons tried to fish with him but often lost bait or hooks or tangled fishing lines. Alan patiently untangled the line and put new bait at the end. Sometimes Alan would take off fishing by himself and be gone many hours. The family was always happy to see him come back to the camp. Unfortunately none of his sons developed his love for fishing or hunting, but some still like to go camping. The family was astounded by his knack for finding the perfect camping spot every time. They remember lying in their sleeping bags early in the morning listening to a bubbling brook outside. Alan would get up at dawn and go fishing. No one else would get up, preferring to stay in their sleeping bags and enjoy the morning air and the bubbling brook. The boys didn’t stay in bed for long though. When the sun came up in the morning they usually got up too. A while later Alan would come back with some fish he had caught and Bernadene would cook it for breakfast. The boys hadn’t developed a taste for fish yet, but they agreed to try some. Fresh fish was usually pretty good.

Alan had two weeks vacation every year so the family would spend a few days in Snowflake with Bernadene’s parents, and then drive to Salt Lake City, Utah to spend a week with Alan’s Dad and siblings. They could always count on a hamburger cook out with Stewart and his family. Stewart owned a vacation cabin in Brighton, Utah. We often spent several days there while on vacation. It was a high point. There was a stream running by the cabin. The boys loved to run along the stream and play. Alan usually took them on hikes in the area around Brighton. They sometimes saw springs of water on these hikes. It was great fun to get down on hands and knees and drink the cold refreshing spring water! Brighton was also the site of an LDS girls camp. As the boys became teenagers they enjoyed watching young women walk by their cabin. The girls seemed to enjoy walking by and seeing the boys. Sunday was always a treat going to church at the Brighton Ward. One year Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the Twelve came to visit Brighton. He was asked to speak in sacrament meeting and gave a wonderful talk that was full of the spirit. The whole family got to shake his hand, which was a thrill. The family was on cloud nine all day. They would often take a few days and drive into Colorado or Wyoming in search of good fishing spots. Some years they stayed at Yellowstone Park for a few days. That was always fun. Alan was called as Ward Clerk in the Tucson fifth Ward. He held the calling for many years with Bishop James Craig. They became close friends. When the Tucson Eleventh Ward was created Alan remained as Ward Clerk. Those were the days before computers and Alan had no assistant clerks so he spent many hours at the church on Sundays and on weekdays doing clerk work. The Bishop sometimes thanked him publicly for his many hours of service to the church.

On May 21, 1962 Brian Rex Gardiner was born. As a young child Brian was always smiling so the family called him Smiley! He liked to tease his older brothers and get them to chase him. Brian was friendly and made friends easily .School was hard for him though. As he got older he became a bit rebellious but he never did anything very bad, and grew into a good man. While the family was living in Tucson the Cleveland Indians had their spring training there. Even though Alan never cared for sports and thought it was a waste of time, he often took his sons to Indian games which were quite a sacrifice for him. Once he took Russell to a University of Arizona football game against the University of Utah. He also took Brian to a drag car race. Brian had to beg him to take him the first year. The next year Alan offered to take Brian so he obviously enjoyed it. Alan also enjoyed hunting. He sometimes went hunting with friends from the ward and sometimes took Leroy and Brian with him. Alan frequently played baseball and football in the back yard with Russell. Alan also built a basketball goal in the driveway. This meant a lot to Russell who spent hours there shooting baskets. In 1964 Alan and Bernadene had decided their family was complete. Then one Sunday as they came home from stake conference Bernadene announced that the spirit had told her she was to have another baby. Sure enough, a few months later on January 6, 1961, Kevin Robert Gardiner was born. He was a special little boy. Once as a three year old he testified that Jesus was God’s own son just like he was his father’s son. Also once as a little boy he encouraged his mother to go to Relief Society on a rainy day when she wasn’t sure she wanted to go. Kevin excelled in school more than the rest of his brothers.

The family often went on outings on Saturday afternoon after the housework was done. Sometimes they went to Sabino Canyon, sometimes to Mount Lemmon. Sometimes they went to the Tucson Zoo. They were always fun outings and they brought a picnic lunch. Alan’s sons remember with fondness the father and son outings we went on with the ward. They enjoyed spending time with their dad and getting close to him. Alan often took the young men of the ward on outings to Kitt Peak National Observatory. He worked there and knew all of the employees there. Sometimes he would take the family there for picnics. It was a long drive but it was worth it to see all the telescopes and look through some of them. Four of Alan’s five sons went on missions for the LDS church. Russell went to the Kentucky-Louisville Mission. LeRoy went to the Australia- Brisbane Mission. John went to the New York-New York City Mission. Kevin went to the North Carolina- Raleigh Mission. In 1980, while Kevin was still in high school, Alan was offered an early retirement from the federal government at Kitt Peak National Observatory. He received a good pension which he received until he passed away. Alan started his own business fixing two way radios. In the mean time, Bernadene’s father had passed away and her mother was in poor health. Since Bernadene was the only daughter in the family she felt obligated to take care of her mother. Alan and Bernadene sold their home in Tucson and moved to Snowflake. This happened in 1982; Alan was excited about the move. He was getting tired of the desert heat and Tucson was getting too big for him. They bought a home in Snowflake and Alan started a business. Russell and John moved to Snowflake with them because they were unemployed. The move was difficult for them because it was humiliating to still be living with parents as returned missionaries. Russell had recently received a degree from Northern Arizona University. LeRoy was in the Navy at the time and Brian had just joined the Army. Kevin was a senior in high school. Brian was unable to handle basic training and was soon living with the family in Snowflake.

 Alan’s business had him driving all over Navajo County. In 1984 John moved to Mesa, Arizona. In 1985 Russell moved to Mesa also. He soon met a young woman named Eloise Jones and they were married in the Mesa Arizona Temple on September 12, 1986. Alan and Bernadene were thrilled to finally have one of their sons get married! On June 15, 1989 Russell and Eloise welcomed a son into the world. They named him Austin William Gardiner. Now Alan and Bernadene had a grandson! On June 11, 1994 Kevin married Rhonda Wallace in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Not long after that Alan and Bernadene were called as nursery leaders in their Snowflake Ward. Alan wasn’t sure he would like it after all of those years as a ward clerk. On their first day a little girl wanted to sit on Alan’s lap. When it was singing time the little girl wanted to ”stay with Grandpa”. Alan decided he liked serving in the nursery after all. Not long after that Alan began to have memory problems. Eventually he couldn’t remember any of the family members. The interesting thing is he had a portrait of his father’s family at home and he recognized them, but he couldn’t recognize his wife or sons. This was especially hard for Bernadene. Luckily, Brian was living at home and was able to help with Alan’s care. Sometime in 1998 the sons and daughters in law in Phoenix and Mesa held a family council.

They decided to move Alan and Bernadene to Phoenix to live with Kevin and Rhonda. It was a traumatic move for them after so many years living in Snowflake. All the family came to Snowflake to help with the move. Kevin and Rhonda actually added a room to their home to accommodate Alan and Bernadene. After the move LeRoy and John came to visit their parents frequently. After a few months Kevin and Rhonda realized they could not provide Alan with the care that he needed. They moved him to a care facility called St. James Place. He lived there with several other men. Bernadene remained at Kevin and Rhonda’s house. LeRoy came over once a week to take Alan and Bernadene for a car ride. Alan could not recognize them but he seemed to sense that they were family and enjoyed the trips. He was sad when they dropped him off at the care facility. One time they took Alan to Russell and Eloise’s house for the evening. They were playing a church trivia game and no one could think of the answer. All of a sudden Alan blurted out the right answer. They were all shocked. Every so often Alan’s mind was clear and the family could have a conversation with him. After a few months there he fell in the night and broke a hip. He had to have hip replacement surgery, after which they moved him to a care facility. He never recovered from the surgery and gradually got worse. Bernadene visited him as often as she could. He was in a lot of pain. Hospice was called in to help. One day when LeRoy and Bernadene were visiting him Alan opened his eyes and told Bernadene he Didn’t want to leave her alone. Leroy promised Alan he would take care of Bernadene for him. Alan looked at Bernadene and said “We have good sons”. Bernadene agreed that they did. Those were probably the last words Alan spoke to Bernadene. Just a few days later Alan passed away on October 28, 2000. His funeral and burial were in Snowflake.