FAIRFIELD, Conn. – James W. Gardner Jr. of Fairfield died April 30. He was 65.
Born March 2, 1947 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Gardner grew up in Bridgeville and was an active member of First United Methodist Church. He graduated from Chartiers Valley Senior High School in 1965, where he was valedictorian, senior class president and captain of the football and baseball teams. A 1969 graduate of Dartmouth College, Gardner played football, majored in economics and was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and Dragon Senior Society.
He married his wife of 42 years, Patricia R. Gardner, in 1969 and started working as a salesman for Proctor & Gamble, covering the South Bronx in New York. As he advanced through the company, the family made homes in New Windsor and Yonkers, N.Y., Cos Cob and Fairfield, Atlanta, Ga., and twice in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1987, Gardner was named head of sales for the Richardson Vicks division and he returned to Fairfield. After 23 years with Proctor & Gamble, he left the company in 1992 to join the Westin Group, where he served as a senior partner before starting his own firm, Gardner Associates, in 1998.
An avid golfer, Gardner was a member of the Patterson Club in Fairfield, serving as president in 2001. Through his annual golf trip, he forged a bond with the people and places of Scotland and Ireland.
A member of the Dartmouth Club of Eastern Fairfield County, he served as the Dartmouth book award chair from 1997 to 2012. In recent years, particularly during his illness, he took great joy from the company of his grandchildren who knew him as "Big Jim."
He is survived by his wife, Patricia R Gardner, of Fairfield; a son, Justin (Jennifer) Gardner, of Fairfield; his mother, Mildred Gardner, of Bridgeville, Pa.; two sisters, Mary Ellen Dale, of Newark, Del., and Jody Ann Hayden, of Monroe, Mich. and two grandchildren. He was predeceased by his father, James W. Gardner Sr.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Bridgeville. Local arrangements are by Lesko Polke Funeral Home in Fairfield.
Memorial contributions may be made to Closer to Free, a joint effort of Yale Cancer Center and Smillow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Hospital, 333 Cedar St., P.O. Box 208028, New Haven, CT 06520.