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1941 Paul 2023

Paul Gardner

September 8, 1941 — November 3, 2023

Paul Gardner, age 82, retired banker, rancher, father, and grandfather with the ability to fix anything "except a broken heart," passed away at home on Friday, November 3, 2023, surrounded by his family.

Paul was born in Albuquerque on September 8, 1941, to Milton and Louise Gardner. He attended North Fourth Street Elementary School from first through third grades, fourth through sixth grades at Lew Wallace Elementary School, then attended Washington Junior High, and graduated from Albuquerque High School in 1959. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, where he began dating Wanda McIlhaney, whom he had known since he was four years old, as both his and Wanda's families attended Fruit Avenue Baptist Church in Albuquerque. Paul and Wanda were married at that church on July 20, 1963.

After graduating from Hardin-Simmons, he began his banking career at Albuquerque National Bank, then was drafted to serve in the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1965-1967. After being honorably discharged for his service, Paul resumed his banking career, going on to work at First National Bank in Santa Fe, then leading operations at Merchants Bank in Gallup, NM, where he oversaw the construction of that bank's first dedicated operations center and installation of their first computer and data processing system. In 1983, he and family returned to Albuquerque, where he worked as an officer at SUNWEST Bank, leading special projects at SUNWEST banks across the state. Paul served as president of the Bank Administration Institute and was president of the Seven Springs Village Association for 11 years, successfully leading efforts to work with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to route State Highway 126 around the village, preserving the village's character for future generations. Paul also had a keen appreciation for music, introducing his children to classical music and opera, and this led him to serve on the board of the June Music Festival (now Chamber Music Albuquerque) for many years.

After retiring from banking, Paul remained active and greatly enjoyed life, doing things he had always wanted to do, such as obtaining his commercial driver's license, working as a ranch foreman, "puttering" around at home, and leveraging his considerable skills in wood carpentry and mechanics, including working on his tractors and 1948 Plymouth.

Paul was a member of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, and his Christian faith was lived out especially through his love and devotion to his family. After battling a long illness, he is survived by his wife, Wanda; his children, Kevin, Lauri, and Douglas, their spouses and his two granddaughters. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, the Rev. Bruce Gardner of Bluewater, NM, and Larry Gardner of Eugene, Oregon.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, December 22, 2023, 10:00 a.m. at FRENCH - Westside. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Paul's name to Chamber Music Albuquerque, Please visit our online guestbook for Paul at

FRENCH - Westside

9300 Golf Course Rd NW




To send flowers to the family in memory of Paul Gardner, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, December 22, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)

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