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GARDNER, John Marcel

John Marcel Gardner

October 19, 1941 - May 5, 2024

Predeceased by parents Orval and Yvonne Gardner, parents-in-law Joseph and Beulah Dunseith, brothers David and Robert Gardner.


Survived by brothers Daniel, William, and extended family in Stratford and area.


Survived by Sharon (née Dunseith), his devoted wife of almost 64 years, and their 7 children:

Janne (Carl) Beinschroth of London, Lynne (Jim) Whitely of Petrolia, Susanne (Barry)McEachern of London, Jackie (Mike) Hayton of Stratford, Joe (Leasa) Gardner of Florida, Dan (Kathie) Gardner of Corunna, Mike (Tonia) Gardner of Corunna


19 Grandchildren:

Stephanie Beinschroth, Andrew (Jennita) Beinschroth, Jennifer (Dan) Grand, and Melissa Beinschroth - Taylor (Travis) McNally, Travis (Leanne) Whitely, Brynn (Rob) Gawley, and Troy Whitely - Jessica and Nathan McEachern -  Jordanne (Derek) Rose, and Jeremy (Tess)Hayton - Nicholas (Miranda) and Meghan Gardner - Hayden and Logan Gardner - Julia, Kaitlin, and Emily Gardner


12 Great-Grandchildren:

Briar, Beau, Hayes, Hendrick, Owen, Layne, Carter, Isaac, Noah, Jamison, Clarissa, Khloe, and 2 more on deck


In his 83rd year, John shuffled off this mortal coil, ran down the curtain and joined the choirinvisible.


Born in 1941, and raised in Stratford, John, the eldest of five boys, graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1960 and launched his teaching career when he was barely older than his students.   After stops in Brantford, Petrolia, and Sarnia, he and Sharon moved to Corunna in 1976 with 6 kids in tow and one more on the way.


They would see their house in Corunna be host to an ever-growing brood, with family parties eventually spilling into the fabled garage. As the master of ceremonies, John was THE chef.  The feasts he created and toiled over were legendary; the menus were exhaustive, varied and always so neatly printed out.  John enjoyed the holidays and shared in the surprise of what gifts he had bought for the kids.  Hunting for Easter Eggs that he, with assistance from John Labatt, would meticulously hide, and usually miscount, was an arduous journey, often concluding in the summer months.


As the kids grew and began to move on and move out, they were replaced by a steady influx of feline companions who John found kindred in their enigmatic introversion.  Soon Grandkids began to arrive on the scene, and with them came new traditions, like setting babies atop the fridge in some sort of Lion King rite of passage to welcome them to his world.


He was an educator at heart, having spent 35 years teaching High School science, predominantly Chemistry at LCCVI in Petrolia. Outside of the classroom he would confidently opine on all matters of subjects.  When he started a diatribe with, "In my humble, but nonetheless correct, opinion", you needed to think long and hard before braving to present a counterview.  He had a deep knowledge of all things science, a keen interest in astronomy and loved to expound his views at any opportunity.  When it came time to dole out parental advice it would often be in the form of a quote from a Walt Whitman or John Milton poem, or some even more cryptic adage related to impermanence.


He was a man of complex thoughts but of simple pleasures. He admired those of strong intellect, quick wit, and the innate ability to ‘fix things’.  Having a singular attribute or a combination of any ensured he would endure your company.  A cold beer, a good scotch, and an audience was all he really needed.  He loved to pull out his guitar and regale his listeners with renditions of songs by Elvis, Gordon Lightfoot, and Johnny Cash.  He loved music and held Ed Bruce and Ella Fitzgerald in the highest of esteem.


He filled his retirement years with piles of sawdust and trips to Lee Valley.  He became a capable woodworker and built cabinetry, tables, chairs, and other ‘useful’ items.  He implored that should he ever start to create anything remotely ‘crafty’ that his tools be taken from him immediately.


He had recall of most everything he saw or read, and was a voracious reader with multiple books constantly on the go.  While he consumed every book on science he came across, he also found interest in most every other form of written material there was. He found genius in the humour of Dave Barry, Jim Unger, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, Robin Williams, and George Carlin.  He was an eager and avid learner; the world and how it worked fascinated him.  While he did not share in Sharon’s passion for travel, as in his words “it doesn't matter where I go, I'll still be there”, he did share her love of mystery and crime novels. He did believe in his younger days he would have been a perfect Archie Goodwin but the truth was, at most times, he embodied Nero Wolfe.  And his insistence that male mystery authors were superior due to their better storytelling cadence was a point of view vehemently opposed by Sharon and Hercule Poirot.


Growing up in Stratford John was an athlete, accomplished in hockey and his true love, baseball.  On family visits to his hometown, he would often stop the family station wagon outside of the ballpark and point out to his car full of kids where all the home run balls landed when he played.  The awe in the kids’ faces would dim somewhat whenever Sharon reminded them that he was a pitcher.


John’s love of sports passed through to his children and grandchildren.  A lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan, the bleu, blanc et rouge were his winter religion. He did root for other teams at times, depending on who it was playing the Leafs. Originally a Cleveland Indians fan (and harbouring eternal resentment towards Pete Rose) he later adopted the Expos until the Blue Jays came into being.  Rarely was there a day from April through October that the Jays game wasn’t on TV and blaring on the radio. He would watch the games with the TV muted so he could listen to the play-by-play voiced by Tom and Jerry on CHOK.


He freely gave his time to the community, helping to establish Corunna Minor Soccer back in the late 1970’s.  He didn’t know much about the sport other than his kids liked it and were somewhat adept at it.  He would convene and coach and manage and join whatever board there was in any capacity.


For many years he was a fixture at the Mooretown arena, coaching or managing his sons’ teams, organizing summer hockey schools, sitting on the Board of Directors in various capacities, and usually volunteering to run the bar at Juvenile Silver Stick.  Long after his boys had passed through the minor hockey ranks John remained a steady presence within the OMHA, representing various leagues in the area.


His many years of teaching, and involvement with minor sports, established great friendships that endured long after the days of the science parties and tournaments that fostered them came to an end.


As Walt Whitman said, “To have great poets, there must be great audiences”.  


And what an audience he had.  From so many students who meant so much to him (he would not only remember your grades, but also where you sat), to those friends that would share in long, colourful jokes, often delivered in a familiar Irish accent or a recognizable stutter, to acquaintances (and spouses and children) of his children who would often find themselves on the receiving end of a slicing bit of wit, but never with acerbic intentions, to his family, who had backstage passes to appreciate, and endure, ‘the best of’ clips from his mind, usually in the unfiltered form.


Walt also offered,“I have learned to be with those I like is enough”.  And so did John.


As per John’s wishes, in lieu of a formal visitation and funeral, a private family Celebration of Life will be held later in the summer where two new Great-Grandchildren will take their rightful places atop the kitchen fridge.


Expressions of sympathy in the form of memorial donations may be made to:

Diabetes Canada (https://www.diabetes.ca/)

Sarnia & District Humane Society ( https://sarniahumanesociety.com/ )
Jumpstart Program ( https://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/pages/donate)



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