James G. Gardner of Waupaca, lost his battle with cancer on Friday, 28 February 2020, surrounded by loved ones. Jim was born on Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda on the 15th May 1964, and was the sixth of eight children of George and Rose Gardner of Waupaca. He was preceded in death by his father, George W. Gardner.
Jim attended Dr. Howard School in Champaign, IL, School 70, St. Joan of Arc School, Chatard and Cathedral High Schools in Indianapolis, IN. He participated with track and soccer teams. He earned a BS in Public Health from Indiana University and an MS in Population Health from UW Madison.
Jim served with distinction in the US Air Force and was stationed in TX at Lackland and Brooks Air force Bases, and Fort Sam Houston. Overseas he was stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany and Zaragoza Air Force Base, Spain. He earned the title “Airman of the Year” in 1985 and played on the Air Force Soccer team in Europe.
On Aug 28, 1988, Jim observed the worst airplane crash in German history, the Ramstein Air Show Disaster. He immediately rushed to help people burning from jet fuel, triaged casualties, comforted the dying, and loaded transports for hospitals. It was a day he had never forgotten.
In civilian life, Jim worked for the US Department of Health in Public Health and Communicable Diseases for the New Jersey Area before moving on to the Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA and later, remotely from Madison and Waupaca, WI. He was involved in health program development, management and funding until his retirement.
Jim was a proud member of the esteemed Mensa Club. Locally, he was a member of the Waupaca Area Genealogical Society and enjoyed researching, verifying, documenting and computerizing old historical records. He was a long-time contributor to the FindAGrave web site which documents individual grave sites to aid people conducting genealogical research. Jim spent many days documenting thousands of grave sites to help others find loved ones final resting places. He was the author of many books; the result of the research he conducted on veteran and non-veteran cemeteries throughout the state of Wisconsin. Jim’s work was done to bring honor and respect to veterans no longer able to speak for themselves.
Jim is survived by his mother, Rose A. Gardner, and seven siblings: Joseph W. (Kathleene) Gardner, Paris, MI, Mary K. Gardner, Chicago, IL, Michael G. (Debbie) Gardner, Savoy, Illinois, Jeanne C. (David Miller) Gardner, Elbert, CO, Monica R. Gardner, Waupaca, John R. Gardner, Fort Worth, TX, Matthew R. (Rhonda) Gardner, Danville, IN and Lisa D’Avignon, his best friend for 37 years, Kenosha, WI.
Jim was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Waupaca. One of his favorite places to visit and research was the Durwood’s Glen Retreat Center, Baraboo, WI. Jim researched paintings, books and lives of Durwood family members, as well as their journey to America and travels and activities as they settled here. He conducted extensive research on the history of Durwood buildings: most important was St. Mary of the Woods Chapel and Durwood family cemetery.
In lieu of sending flowers, the family asks that you please make a donation to the Tiny Homes for Vets Program. Please go to the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin https://vetsoutreachwi.us. Click on the donate button and when filling it out, comment that your donation is in James G. Gardner’s name and toward the Tiny Homes for Vets Program.
The Memorial Service will be on Monday, March 9, 2020 at 11 a.m. at the Maple Crest Funeral Home. Friends and family may gather on Monday from 10 am until the time of the service at the funeral home.
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