Howard Lane Gardner Jr., a native of Palatka, died March 8, 2015, at age 95. He was born Oct. 23, 1919, to Howard Lane Gardner and Julia McIver Gardner.
Gardner was a lifelong citizen of Putnam County and prominent businessman. He grew up on River Street in Palatka and graduated from Palatka High School, where he ran track, quarterbacked the Palatka Maroons of 1935 and picked up his nickname, Gabby.
He went on to the Citadel where he majored in business administration and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation in 1941. It was in Charleston that he met the love of his life, Martha Willetta Sartor, and convinced her to marry him.
World War II found Gardner with the anti-aircraft artillery in the European theater, where he attained rank of major and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He experienced the battle of Normandy, which was something he spoke about only in recent years.
After the war, Gardner returned to the family furniture business in Palatka and soon became president of the company, Florida Furniture Industries. He served as a director of the industry’s state retail dealers association and president of the sales and marketing division of the Southern Furniture Manufacturers’ Association.
Locally, Gardner served as a director of the Exchange Bank, the Palatka Atlantic National Bank, and First Federal Savings & Loan. He also served on the Putnam County Planning Commission and the Planning Board of the City of Palatka.
Gardner became a member of First Presbyterian Church in 1930 where he served for many years as an elder and deacon. Gardner joined Palatka Rotary in 1946 and served as its president in 1951-52. In 1982, he was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. He served repeatedly as a director of Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, as president of the Chamber’s Committee of 100 and as a director of the Florida State Chamber of Commerce.
Gardner was a hard worker and devoted citizen, but he also had many pastimes, including golf, boating, hunting and fishing. Mattie Davis was a faithful caregiver in recent years, helping the family at his home at Moritani Point, Allegro and Emeritus.
Preceded in death by his wife, Willetta Sartor Gardner, and sister, Patricia Gardner Elmore.
Survivors include sons, Howard Lane Gardner III (Martha) and Robert Sartor Gardner (Bonnie); grandchildren, Lynne Gardner Trost (Henry) of Nashville, Tenn., Howard Lane Gardner IV (Heather) of Jacksonville, and Lucy Leigh Gardner of Mandarin; five great-grandchildren: Elizabeth Gardner Trost, Emma Marguerite Trost, Andrew Lane Gardner, Evelyn Willetta Trost, and Parklyn Grace Gardner; nieces and nephews, William Elmore, Jr. (Kathy), Paige Elmore Dennis (Hugh), Carol Sartor Dixon (David), Jodie Sartor Solow (Christopher), and James Robert Sartor III.
Services will be at 11 a.m. on Friday at the First Presbyterian Church in Palatka with Pastor George Head and Pastor Charles DeVane officiating. Burial will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery. Visitation will be Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.
Flowers are gratefully accepted or memorial donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 123 South 2nd St., Palatka, FL 32177.
Memories and condolences may be expressed to the family at Howard’s Book of Memories page at www.johnsonoverturffunerals.com .
Arrangements are under the direction of Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.
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