Word has been received of the death of Frank Gardner, retired Grace Brethren pastor who was instrumental in beginning the Grace Brethren Church at Pataskala, Ohio (Fenton McDonald, pastor). He also served on staff of the Grace Brethren Church of Columbus, Ohio (now Grace Polaris, Mike Yoder, lead pastor).
Pastor Frank died of a heart attack in Uganda, where he was serving as a missionary following his retirement.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, February 23, at Grace Brethren Church, 3517 Headley’s Mill Rd., Pataskala, Ohio 43062.
Here is his obituary, excerpted from the memorial service program, and written by his children:
Frank H. Gardner, Jr. was born to Frank H. Gardner & Beatrice Gardner on September 25, 1936 in Washington, D.C. At two years of age, his family moved to the “boonies” of Alexandria, Virginia where he lived until moving away as an adult. He grew up in Alexandria with his older sister, Mary Lou, who he adored, and his younger brother, Bill.
At the age of seven, Dad accepted Jesus into his heart at the First Brethren Church in Washington, D.C. Three years later, at the age of ten, Dad gave his life to the Lord to be in full time service to Him, and never looked back. From that point forward, his walk with the Lord was the single most important part of his life.
Dad attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and subsequently attended seminary at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. It was at Bob Jones that he met our mother, Adelaide. Her devotion to the Lord was what attracted him to her. It was there that they began a life-long love relationship. On December 22, 1956, they announced their engagement to be married. The announcement was made at the wedding reception of his sister, Mary Lou when she married Don Garlock. Six months later (to the day) on June 22, 1957, they became husband and wife. Their years were filled with family, ministry, and unmatched love.
God blessed them with five children: Frank born in Warsaw, Indiana; Dave and Dan born in Hamilton, Ohio; Joan born in Davenport, Iowa; and Rebecca born in Columbus, Ohio. God added five more children with the spouses of each of their children. And each spouse called them Mom and Dad, because they each were treated as one of their children. Frank married Shelly, Dave married Jamie, Dan married Debbie, Joan married John Burnett, and Rebecca married John Fulks.
In all, God blessed them with 18 grandchildren: Shannon, Cassandra, David, Chris, twins Patricia and Sarah, Samantha, Daniel, Zachary, Caleb, Katie, Micah, Seth, Johnny, Jacob, Lynnsi, Aaron (whose middle name is Frank), and finally, Benjamin.
Dad and Mom’s ministry spanned over 50 years. They began their pastoral ministry in 1960, pastoring churches in Camden, Ohio; Davenport, Iowa; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and for short stretches in Homer, Alaska and Kodiak, Alaska.
In the year 2000, they began their work as missionaries in Jinja, Uganda, East Africa. It was their real joy to work there with their son-in-law John, and their daughter, Rebecca, who have been in full time ministry there for over 15 years. The students there all hoped that they would have classes with Pastor Frank as their teacher. Along with teaching at the seminary in Jinja, Mom and Dad took many trips to the villages where they ministered. Several children have been named after both Mom and Dad. They cultivated wonderful relationships with many in Uganda.
In 2007, they reached their Golden Wedding Anniversary. John and Rebecca planned a surprise celebration for them in Uganda with their Ugandan friends and fellow missionaries. It was one of their memorable African treasures. Upon their return to the states, their children all put together a celebration at the Grace Brethren Church in Pataskala, Ohio where Dad had preached for many years. Many friends from all over and from years gone by attended that celebration. It was a joy to have watched the video of that evening with my Dad just days before he departed for Uganda, and see his joy in reliving that evening, and watching his beloved wife on stage. In all, they shared 53 years of life together. Dad was so thankful to his Lord for the blessings of marriage, love, and family.
Frank has had the joy of marrying each of his children. And, in recent years had the pleasure of giving the baccalaureate address at his grandson Daniel’s graduation. He has especially enjoyed riding motorcycles with his son Dan, and grandson, Zachary. Two special memories for Dad were riding to Chena Hot Springs with Dan, and in 2011 riding across the United States together.
If you knew Frank, you were touched and blessed. He was in the business of people. He was never too busy to give of all he had of time and energy to bring someone along, counsel, admonish, or encourage. It is the family’s desire at this memorial service, that you be encouraged and blessed, and that the life of Frank, shared today, brings honor to him, and glorifies his Lord.
Dad’s prayer and hope was, “…in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1: 20-21