WILMINGTON — Michael Farrel “Mike” Gardner, 72, passed away at his home Saturday, July 10, 2021.
Born Jan. 26, 1949, in Battle Creek, Michigan, he is survived by his wife, Deborra Reckmeyer Gardner; son, Matthew Gardner, and his wife, Vicky Gardner; two grandsons, Grayson and Gavin Gardner; stepdaughter, Erika Hall, and her husband, Brent Hall, and three grandchildren, Adrian, Mina and Grace Hall; stepson, Noah Landis, and his wife, Joyce Landis; two grandchildren, Mason and Emma Landis; sister, Teresa Merrick, and her husband, Dana Merrick; as well as dozens of cousins, nieces and nephews. Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Walter Gardner and Maxine (Willacker) Gardner; sister, Mary Cummings; brother, Alan Gardner; and granddaughter, Breanna Trujillo (Hall).
Mike graduated from St. Philip Catholic High School in Battle Creek and attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, before entering the U.S. Army. He proudly served his country his entire adult life, beginning with his Army tenure as a military policeman and dog handler in both the United States and Korea. Upon completing his enlistment, he earned a B.S. Degree in Forensic Chemistry and Police Science at Michigan State University. After graduation, he served as a criminal investigator for St. John’s County, Florida, before joining the Central Intelligence Agency, from which he retired after a long and successful career. Following his retirement, Mike continued to serve his country in multiple roles, including as president of the CIA’s Technical Services Retirees Association (of which he was very proud).
As a young man growing up in Battle Creek, Mike learned to play the guitar and made quite a name for himself playing all over the state supporting the Catholic Teens Encounter Christ retreats. He continued playing for weddings and other celebratory occasions, at clubs, and for work-colleague events (including CIA Family Day) until well after he retired. Throughout his life, he also maintained close ties with his high school classmates in Michigan, or wherever they had moved.
Mike loved life and everyone around him. He had a ready smile and never knew a stranger, often picking up a conversation with someone in line with him at a concert, in the grocery store, or in an elevator, etc. He was a humorist and charming flirt to the very end, which made us all smile. He will be remembered as a loving husband, brother, uncle, and friend; as a devoted father, stepdad and grandfather; and as a generous giver of himself, time and gifts.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date for family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimer’s or cancer research.
Share online condolences with the family at Peacock-Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service.