James A. Gardner, a Kalamazoo-area businessman and beloved husband of the late Delores Gardner (Vigard), died Nov. 21 at the age of 88.
He was born June 24, 1933, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the late Theodore and Helen Gardner (Sharkey), the fourth child to arrive a busy and full household that would eventually extend to five boys and a girl. Jim would remain close to his brothers and sister for the entirety of their lives.
After gaining a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University, he worked for 20 years as an executive in various manufacturing companies, including the former Angle Steel in Plainwell, before striking out on his own, owning a Kalamazoo forklift company and a fiberglas manufacturer near White Pigeon over the years. He also taught briefly in Western Michigan University’s graduate business program and was the author of “Common Sense Manufacturing,” published in 1992. Jim was well-read across a wide variety of subjects and a keen duplicate bridge player.
However, nothing gave him more consistent pleasure throughout his life than getting together with his extended family, which grew over the years to include more than 50 people. Jim and his wife hosted many of them at a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 2006 and at the marriage of his son David in 1997.
Jim was preceded in death in 2017 by his wife of 60 years, Delores, a former teacher in the Plainwell school system, and by three of his brothers. He is survived by his son, James Gardner Jr. (Sarah) and their children Isabelle, Henry and Nicholas; by son David Gardner (Christine) and their children Alyssa and Erika; and by a brother and sister.
A funeral mass will be celebrated on Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. at St. Margaret’s Church in Otsego, Mich., where he was a parishioner for more than 40 years. Jim’s burial will be alongside his wife in Fort Custer National Cemetery later that day.
The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, Marshall-Gren Chapel, 120 S. Woodhams, Plainwell 269-685-5881.