Gary Kent Gardner, age 80 died of natural causes on the evening of Tuesday, April 20th, 2021 at Southdale Fairview hospital in Edina Minnesota, there with his wife and children.
Kent was born in Mobridge South Dakota on December 12, 1940. He was born into journalism, both of his parents’ journalists, Mary Louise Gardner and Roy Gardner, first at the Mobridge Tribune where his father Roy Gardner was editor, and then on to Sioux Center Iowa where both Mary Louise and Roy published the Sioux Center News. He grew quickly tall and strong at a young age, playing high school football affectionately known as “Tank”. His character was growing equally strong; confident, passionate, and driven.
At 19, he would meet his wife of 61 years, Gail Miller, start a family, and start a lifetime in journalism. He began at the Mankato Free press while still a student at Mankato State University and did not have to wait long for the job to become exciting, a feeling he never outgrew. In those first years, he sat in on an interview with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. He would receive a letter from then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover complimenting him on an article he had written about the FBI agents. His career progressed quickly, moving to the Mason City Globe Gazette and then to The Minneapolis Star in 1968 doing various reporting and photography roles. Soon he was named an assistant news editor. “I laid out the front page of the Star, then the B section,” said Kent. “I know it’s a cliche, but as a journalist, I did become a witness to history.” The first man on the moon was one of many exciting moments he remembers. From the 70s until he retired in 2005, Kent held many leadership positions, contributing to the success of the Star and later Star-Tribune. His former peers describe him well…as passionate, compassionate, competitive, direct, tough, and talented.
In retirement, Kent was able to extensively travel all over the world, including 40 cruises and trips across every continent, enjoying his post retirement days with Gail. They were always on an adventure or one that was coming up soon. He loved her much, they were best friends and took care of each other. He was an excellent cook as well and had a great love and knowledge of wine he would share with others.
Kent instilled a strong work ethic in his boys that drove success to each of them not just in their own fields of occupation, but in life. Growing up in the house, there was always a clear sense for what was right and doing anything other than that was not going to happen. He supported every son’s interests and passions. He instilled strong loyalty, integrity, respect, honor, trust, leadership, fairness, and compassion that shaped them to what they have become today.
Kent was an inspiration and support to 13 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. He was exceedingly generous and supportive with all his family, inquisitive and curious when he talked to everyone. With the spirit of a journalist even into retirement, he voraciously documented everything from family life, to holidays, and world travels with Gail in photos, letters, and later social media. “Papa-razzi” was a favorite nickname of the grandkids, as he always had a camera to capture and keep events alive. Their home was proof of that inquisitive character. In it you would find endless treasures: Dutch wooden shoes for St. Nicholas Day, Venetian Masks, beautiful Ukrainian Eggs, and more. Items that captivated their grandkids, encouraging them to their own life of travel and adventure, whether around the world or just as far as Rainy Lake, where Kent fished every year with Gail for decades. Through it all, Kent was informed, articulate, and intentional with everyone in his life, young and old. His grandchildren remember his insight and dry wit, revealed and understood with age, and often over good meals shared together.