Daniel C. Gardner
Daniel C. Gardner

August 3, 1926 - August 1, 2016
Resided in Denver, CO
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Daniel Charles Gardner went home to be with the Lord on Monday, August 1st, 2016, in Littleton, Colorado. He was surrounded by his family who were gathering to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Dan was born in Chicago, Illinois to Clare Lamont and Nellie Elizabeth on August 3, 1926. His two-year-old brother, Jim, was excited to have a baby brother. The family moved to Tinley Park, a small suburb of Chicago. The Gardners were active members of the Christian Missionary Alliance Church pastored by A. W. Tozer, well known author of The Pursuit of God. During this time, Danny was often heard singing, "Everybody ought to love Jesus" to neighbors over the backyard fence.

Dan and Jim were glad to have a yard large enough to keep their very own horse, Beauty and a Collie named Lady. This period began Dan's life-long love of horses. This time also marked the beginning of the many legendary pranks of Dan, Jim, and their dad, Clare! Their Dad taught the boys to play baseball and football at an early age. He loved to wrestle with them on the front room rug.

Dan was about nine years old when the family moved to the small college town of Wheaton, west of Chicago so that the boys could attend Wheaton Academy, located on the campus of Wheaton College. Nellie and Clare wanted their boys to have a strong Christian education. Wheaton's motto has been "For Christ and His Kingdom," since it was founded in 1860.

During his years at the Academy and the College, Danny excelled in athletics. He lettered in football each year. He was also on the wrestling team. One of his team mates was Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary who is well known for his thought-provoking words, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Billy Graham, a graduate student at the college, was a frequent speaker in the daily chapel during the years that Danny attended the Academy.

Danny caught the eye of Betty Wells, an outgoing cheerleader at the Academy. She was determined to bring this shy young man out of his shell. Her efforts were successful and Danny and Betty dated steadily during their high school and college years.

Dan graduated from high school in 1944. After completing one semester of college at Wheaton, he joined the Army Air Corps in January of 1945. He went through basic training at Ft. Sheridan north of Chicago, and at a camp near Biloxi, Mississippi. He was sent overseas where he was stationed at Orly Field near Paris. He was crew chief on a C-47 transport plane. As the war was winding down, he was able to meet up with his brother Jim who was serving in the Signal Corp in the European Theatre. Together, they saw the sights of Paris. They also spent a brief time competing in wrestling tournaments against other U.S. servicemen stationed in Europe.

Danny returned home in 1946 and resumed his studies at Wheaton College. He and Betty were a steady couple on campus. Their engagement was announced by close friend and teammate, Chuck Holsinger at the football banquet in the winter of 1947. They were married at the Wheaton Bible Church in the summer between their junior and senior year, and graduated together in the renowned class of '49.

After college, Danny and Betty moved to an apartment in Oak Park, Illinois. Dan had been hired by Baird and Warner as a real estate appraiser in training. He also attended night classes at a law school in Chicago. During this time, they were blessed with their first child, Carol. A year later, they moved in with Betty's mother in Wheaton so that they could save money to buy a house. In 1952, Chuck was born. They were thrilled to welcome a son.

When it came time to buy a house, they took a trip to Colorado so that Dan could survey the job market in Denver, where they had both hoped to live someday. They returned home to Wheaton convinced this was the place they wanted to raise their family. Several months later, Dan accepted a position with the Denver office of Equitable Life Assurance Society.

They soon were settled in their first home on Dahlia Street in Denver. Dan put up a swing set that was a magnet for all the neighborhood children. There they welcomed their third child, Jan, into the world. Dan enjoyed his work and was very successful in his new job as a commercial real estate appraiser. He loved driving his children around town pointing out the shopping centers and skyscrapers that he had recommended for financing by Equitable.

As successful as he was, the job never took priority over his family. He always found time to be actively involved with his kids – coaching little league and cheering for his children as they competed in a variety of sports. He loved going on camping trips, riding horses, skiing and taking road trips to visit relatives. Dan loved exploring the country with his family. Together, they discovered the United States from coast to coast, and top to bottom, including many National Parks, the World's Fair in New York City and a Rose Parade in Pasadena. One time, they even spent the night on the grounds of West Point Military Academy in their travel trailer when their car broke down. No charge, and there was a military guard posted outside the door all night!

Having loved horses his whole life, Dan moved the family to a beautiful custom home on a ridge overlooking Bear Creek Valley. There Dan and the next door neighbor fenced some of the land and built a barn big enough to house his horse and one for each of his children. They often went on long rides up into the Hogback from their property. (Those were the days before freeways and housing subdivisions!)

While living there, Dan and Betty joined Bear Creek Presbyterian Church where they were sponsors of the Junior High Youth Group. During this time, they also served on the Colorado Committee for Young Life, a Christian ministry outreach to unchurched teenagers. They had trained as Young Life leaders during their years at Wheaton College.

In 1966, Dan was promoted to the position of Regional Appraiser for the Western United States in Equitable's San Francisco commercial real estate office. The family moved to the Bay Area and bought a home in the town of Mountain View, near Stanford University. Once again, seeking a bible-believing church, the family joined Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, then pastored by Ray Stedman. During these years Carole and Chuck entered university in California.

Their hearts had never left Colorado, so in 1970, Dan and Betty moved back to Denver with their youngest daughter Jan who was a Sophomore in high school. Still with Equitable, Dan assumed the position of Senior Vice President for the Rocky Mountain states. After Jan left for college, Dan and Betty amicably divorced.

Dan was very active in the Colorado Mountain Club, and it was there that he met Sandra Lake, who soon became his second wife. Dan and Sandy loved the Rocky Mountains and were often out hiking, biking, camping, or skiing. They also both loved tennis and spent many hours playing singles and doubles, frequently winning in tournaments. Dan and Sandy often traveled on extended bike trips in the US and abroad with Bicycle Adventure Club.

By living frugally and investing wisely, Dan was able to retire early at the age of 62. This gave Dan and Sandy plenty of time and opportunity to travel in the United States and abroad. In addition to the more usual tourist destinations, Dan and Sandy shared adventures on safari in Africa and in a primitive village in the Amazon rain forests of Ecuador. Their travels also took them to such exotic places as the Galapagos Islands, Tiera del Fuego, Iguassu Falls and Machu Picchu in South America and on a river cruise down the Yangtze River in China.

They developed deep friendships in the tennis community, the Colorado Mountain Club, and the Ski Meisters. They also regularly brought their family together for wonderful reunions in many different vacation settings – dude ranches, Young Life's Trail West, Maui, Vail - skiing in winter and the 4th of July festivities in summer, and even a raft trip down the Colorado River.

Several of his grandchildren have expressed the ways Grampa Dan has been a positive influence in shaping who they are today. His sense of humor and fun will be remembered by all. To many in his family he will always be "the real cookie monster." Sandy had a difficult time keeping the cookie jar full!

Dan was a beloved husband, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. His legacy of commitment to family above all else was undergirded by his Christian faith learned in his home from an early age and nurtured during the Wheaton years, and beyond.

Dan is survived by his big brother Jim (Sally), wife Sandy, former wife Betty, children Carole (Dave) Rudy, Chuck (Alison) Gardner, and Jan (Bill) Ghirardelli, along with his nine grandchildren and his eight (and counting) great-grandchildren. A private service was held at the Wadsworth Chapel in Lakewood on Saturday, August 6th with Pastor Bruce Finfrock from Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church presiding. Dan will be laid to rest at Fort Logan National Cemetery on Monday, August 8th.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to Young Life, P. O. Box 70065, Prescott, Arizona 86304-7065

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Funeral Home
Horan & McConaty - County Line
5303 East County Line Road
Centennial, CO US 80122