MIDWEST CITY – Lt. Colonel (USAF – Retired) Jim Gardner passed away on April 1, 2021 at 88. He was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi on April 18, 1932 to Ross and Dora Gardner and attended a one room school house with a graduating class of 4. He was a sharecropper’s son who learned at an early age the meaning of hard work. As a child, he would lean on a hoe handle and watch planes fly over saying that one day he was going to fly a plane. His dream came true when he enlisted in the US Air Force in 1953. While attending pilot training at Vance AFB in Enid, OK, another dream came true when he met the love of his life, Marjorie Ann (Perkins) Gardner (from Fairview, OK) on a blind date. For him, it was love at first sight. They were married on October 30, 1955.
He flew C-124s, C-141s and ended his career as one of the first C-5 Pilots in the country. He was fortunate to have been stationed at Tinker AFB, transferred to Charleston AFB in the 60s and retired in 1972, where he returned to Tinker to work as a civil servant. He flew rescue helicopters in Vietnam and received the Bronze Star for heroic achievement. He loved to say “How many people can say that they have flown around the world 2 times and been to the Neshoba County Fair?”
Jim loved to work with Margie in the yard and garden, and they received Midwest City’s “Yard of the Month” Award. He also loved camping, boating and fishing. He was a proud member of Midwest Boulevard Christian Church. He was most excited to decorate for Halloween and Christmas and climbed on the roof to do so well into his eighties. His Grandkids and Great Grandkids were his greatest joy. He and Margie loved to watch movies, sharing a love of Saturday matinees from their childhoods. He loved all war movies and westerns, especially John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and the Three Stooges.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Margie, and his mother, father and brother, Jack. He is survived by three children, Kathy Lollar, Jimmy (Debbie) Gardner, and Cindy (Deanie) Gardner; four grandchildren, Stephanie (Heath) Webb, Hannah (Jesse) Waddell, Joey Lollar and Tanner Gardner; and two great-grandchildren, Payton and Adelyn Webb. He is also survived by his beloved cat buddy, Pistol Pete.
The family will arrange a graveside service at a later date.
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