Joan E. Gardner (Gerhard), age 81, passed away and was received into the loving, open arms of our Lord and savior on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The family announced her passing with great sadness.
Joan grew up in Greene and Charles City, Iowa, and was known for her ease in frequent conversation, even with total strangers. Some may be surprised to learn of the shyness of her youth. Yet even as a child, she possessed a contagious smile and sweetness. Throughout her life she maintained a sweet demeanor that won the trust and hearts of many.
Joan is remembered for her beauty inside and out, her comfort, her joy, and her warm and loving heart and spirit. Her family will cherish each and every memory of their mom, grandmother, great-grandma, aunt and friend.
Joan is preceded in death by her mother Nova and ex-husband Joe Gardner.
Surviving immediate family who cherish her are daughters, Trish Flanders (Rick) of Mesa, Ariz., Marilyn Gardner of Casa Grande, Ariz., and Julie Arch (Tim) of Portage, Mich.; sons, Jeff Gardner (Nancy) of Kalamazoo, Mich. and Michael Gardner Scottsdale, Ariz.; grandchildren, Alecia Aylward of Mesa, Ariz.; Penny Gardner of Kalamazoo, Mich., Maxwell Arch of Portage, Mich., and Zoey Arch of Portage, Mich.; and great-grandchildren, Layla Aylward of Mesa, Ariz. and Makaila Furderer of Kalamazoo, Mich.
She touched so many lives and those memories will live forever in their hearts. Celebration of Life service to honor Joan will be held June 9, 2018 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Portage United Church of Christ, Portage, Mich., and internment in the Riverside Cemetery in Three Rivers, Mich. She also had a Celebration of Life in Arizona.
Please share memories and condolences if you wish at In lieu of flowers, her family suggests contributing to animal rescue organizations such as the SPCA and supporting organ donor registration. She was a registered donor and recognized as a hero. To also honor her love of animals, consider giving a needing pet a forever home. The family is deeply grateful for the outpouring of love, prayers, and support in many heart-felt forms from too many people to name individually.


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