Granville “Jerry” Gardner, a devoted father and La Porte businessman, died peacefully at his daughter’s home Saturday, July 10, 2021 at 10 p.m. at the age of 86. He lived with his daughter, Lisa, and her husband, Dr. Ron Richmond, for the past 5 years in Mission Viejo, CA due to health challenges.
Jerry is survived by his daughter, Lisa (Ron) Richmond; grandchildren, Andrew Richmond and Evelyn (Christian) Bolanos; siblings, Roger Gardner, Terry (Susan) Gardner, and Ann Vessels; as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Jerry was born on July 22, 1934 in Dixon, Kentucky to William Frank Gardner and Bessie (Owens) Gardner. He grew up on a farm, one of 10 children, where he learned the value of hard work and determination which served him well through life. Jerry served in the US Air Force and was a flight mechanic/engineer in North Africa. He then attended college at Indiana University and was an officer at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Jerry moved to La Porte, Indiana when he began work for the Horace Mann Insurance Company, selling insurance and financial planning to teachers. He became the top salesman in Indiana. Jerry met Joyce Goeltzenleuchter while she was working for La Porte Savings Bank. She won his heart and they were married not long after. They had one child, Lisa, in 1963. Though they split up in 1974, they remained close friends for a lifetime. He enjoyed Pine Lake’s beauty and the surrounding nature at his home on Nilewood Drive.
Jerry began to invest in rental properties because of Joyce’s encouragement. He bought homes and turned them into apartments in many areas of La Porte. This later became his primary business. Jerry and Joyce began Gardner Insurance Agency which was seated next to City Hall. Later, Jerry purchased Fox Village apartments from the original owner. He got inspired to design and build 2 additional multi-unit luxury apartment buildings at Fox Village in the 1980’s. Jerry obtained his broker’s license and became an avid investor in the stock market also. He was a strong-willed man with an entrepreneurial spirit and this served him well in life. Jerry got a taste of Hollywood as an extra in an award-winning short film based on the poem “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”.
When Jerry moved to California this past decade, he became more focused on family and God and was baptized April 3, 2013. Thus, in his final years, he had very close friends from church and made remarkable changes in his character and lived a godly life. He became more at peace, more grateful for even small blessings, more expressive of his appreciation, and more content. He let people in his life know how much he loved them and was filled with “thank you’s”. He smiled more than ever, even during health challenges. People who knew him were amazed at his determination to make it to church and fellowship even in a wheelchair every week possible. His personal changes in these later years were the things that impressed his family and friends most, his humility, forgiveness, and the kindnesses he showed others because of his faith.
He loved and was devoted to his 10 siblings and their families and his grandchildren. Jerry loved to pass on his knowledge of business, investing, and health tips to his family. He was known to be a generous man helping many friends and family members over the years. He loved his grandchildren and cheered them on enthusiastically in performances, plays, choir, academic awards, and their many sports all through their youth.
Though Jerry loved to work hard, he enjoyed traveling especially to London with his ancestry showing him to be 89% English. He loved Florida beaches, Disney World with his daughter, Evansville, Kentucky, Europe and California. He also had an appreciation for the finer things such as antiques, art, collectibles and the theatre (Phantom of the Opera, a favorite). But God and family were his real treasures and all else paled in comparison. He was a devoted dad who brought the family security, love and encouragement.
He has had so much love and support from his family members, church, and caregivers. We want to thank the amazing people in his life and the devotion they have shown which brought great comfort and encouragement. Jerry was loved and will be greatly missed.
A Graveside Service with Full Military Honors will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 23, 2021 at Pine Lake Cemetery. The family welcomes any friends or acquaintances who wish to join them.
Memorial donations may be made to Hope Worldwide at www.hopeww.org, a Christian non-profit organization that Jerry has supported along with his family doing mission trips to many countries over the past 15 years.
Condolences may be shared with the family at www.cutlercares.com.