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1923 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Gardner July 25, 1923 - June 29, 2018 OKLAHOMA CITY Our USAF Chief Master Sergeant (Ret.) Leroy "Okie" Gardner is no longer with us. To loved ones, he was "the wind beneath our wings." To students and acquaintances, he was always a "booster." May our gracious memories of him serve as a "feathered prop" - something to be carried on our continued flights without being an unnecessary drag. Okie Gardner was born on July 25, 1923, on Gardner Mountain in Gowen, OK to George H. & Eva L. (Porter) Gardner. The family later moved to Shawnee, where Okie graduated Shawnee High School, and then enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 8 Aug. 1941 at age 18. In less than one year, he rose to the rank of sergeant and become the youngest sergeant in the U.S. Army at that time. Following his retirement from the U.S. Air Force (24 years active duty) as a chief master sergeant, he moved on with his aviation career, first as instructor of the C-141 program at Tinker AFB, and then progressed to become the chief instructor of the C-5A program in Altus. An honor bestowed upon Okie just prior to his federal civil service retirement was naming of an auditorium at Altus AFB the Leroy "Okie" Gardner Auditorium, notable because this is normally a posthumous honor. Upon his second retirement from Federal Civil Service (21 years), Okie was honored 2 Jan. 1987 with a proclamation signed by then Governor George Nigh proclaiming that day as "Okie Gardner Day" in Oklahoma. Okie is survived by son, David & wife Jana, of Duncan; daughter, April Miller Schultz & companion Keith Heinley; and daughter-in-law, Linda Gardner. Also surviving are grandchildren, Eric Miller of Edmond, wife Christie, children, Zack and Emily; Jeremy Gardner, of North Richland Hills, TX, wife Liz, children, Victoria and Joseph; Sarah Blakley-Weider, of Katy, TX, husband Michael and children, Gabe, Bethany, and Sheralynn; Nicole Blakley-Chaudoin, of St. Peters, MO, husband Shaun and son, Ethan; Michael Glass, wife Mary Alice, children, Autumn and Cody, of Lebanon, TN; and Casey Dees, Oklahoma City. Okie is also survived by many nieces, nephews and extended family and friends. He was preceded in death by wife of 61 years, Betty Lorraine (Gunning) Gardner; son, Dan Gardner; daughter, Sherry Blakley; and his parents. Funeral services will be held on Thursday morning, July 5, 2018, at 10 a.m. at Hahn-Cook/Street & Draper with Visitation prior to the service. Interment will be at Rose Hill Burial Park.
Published in The Oklahoman on July 2, 2018
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