Kathleen (Kathi) René Gardner, beloved mother, wife, sister, and friend, passed away at her home on Friday, August 25th, 2023, at 68 years old. She is survived by her husband of 43 years, George Gardner, and her two daughters, Meagan Gardner, and Danielle Gardner (with significant other, Larri Trujillo). She is also survived by her siblings and their spouses: Jackie and Tom Petersen, Shelly and Dave Melton, Bob Keenan, and Teresa Breeden; and her niece, Lisa Hudston and spouse, Jonathan; and nephew, Mike Petersen. She was also considered family among George's siblings and their spouses: Dyan Gardner, Mike and Teri Gardner, Janet and Louis Chartier, Jean, and Jack Miller; and nieces and nephews: Geoff and Amanda Chartier, Adam Chartier, Meredith Gardner, Mitch and Chelsea Gardner, Kirk and Kim Miller, and Matt Miller. She was a great-aunt to many grand-nieces and grand-nephews all over the country. She was preceded in death by her parents, Tom, and Bev Keenan.
Kathi was born, raised, and attended schools in Los Alamos, NM. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from UNM in 1977. She was a lifelong voracious reader and a big fan of John Denver. She filled her days helping other people as a candy striper at the hospital and did volunteer work around the Los Alamos community.
During the summers of college, she was a camp counselor at The Beacon Lodge Camp for the Blind in Mount Union, PA - a summer camp for adults and children who were blind, deaf, and had special needs. This is where she met George Gardner, a fellow camp counselor, who was attending college in Tampa, FL. They fell in love, and after graduation, George followed Kathi back to NM. Kathi was a rehabilitation teacher for the blind in Santa Fe and enjoyed making a difference in people's lives.
George and Kathi married in 1980 in Los Alamos and started their life together in Santa Fe. They had their first daughter, Meagan, while in Santa Fe, then moved to Rio Rancho, which became their permanent home. They had their daughter, Danielle, in Rio Rancho. This was where Kathi began her career as a home daycare provider, something she would do for 30 years. She cared for over 300 children and was considered to be a second mom to hundreds of families. She was very honored to be trusted with so many children throughout the decades. Her home was safe, and full of love, laughter, and lessons of empathy.
Kathi truly enjoyed being with people. Nothing made her happier than being with her friends and family - playing games, asking questions, learning about their lives, and traveling. She was a key crew member of a hot-air balloon crew. She, along with the rest of her family, enjoyed hot-air balloon rallies around the country. She and George visited numerous places around the country with Meagan and Danielle. Kathi had a great time whenever she was with her siblings, whom she considered her very close friends, whether they were having lunch, traveling, swapping inside jokes, or talking on the phone. Everyone in her life considered her to be a member of the family. She had a kind word for everyone and was often thought to be the nicest person in the room.
Kathi and George had a strong and remarkable marriage full of love. They loved their girls. Kathi was a devoted mom; she attended every theater performance of Meagan's and every band performance of Danielle's and was their biggest cheerleader. She was Meagan's and Danielle's best friend, and they loved talking with her and spending time with her. She was so supportive of their careers and loved getting to know their friends - they all considered her to be a thoughtful, loving, and kind second mom as well. The Gardner's were so close and supportive as a family and truly loved being together. They played games, had long conversations, and laughed a lot. Kathi was a wonderful mom and person who made a difference in so many lives. She will be missed by all who knew her.
A celebration of Kathi's life will be held Saturday, September 9, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., FRENCH - Westside with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Beacon Lodge (www.beaconlodge.org).
Saturday, September 9, 2023
Starts at 10:00 am (Mountain time)
FRENCH - Westside
Saturday, September 9, 2023
Starts at 11:30 am (Mountain time)
FRENCH - Westside Reception Center