Cover photo for John Christopher Gardner's Obituary
John Christopher Gardner Profile Photo
1958 John 2018

John Christopher Gardner

January 28, 1958 — July 29, 2018

John Christopher Gardner was born in Kansas City, Missouri on January 28, 1958 and passed from this life on July 29, 2018. In 2014 John was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. He was fortunate to receive care from a dedicated healthcare team in Seattle. He lived fully until his final sunny weekend with his high school sweetheart in their Bainbridge Island home.

John and Julie Rae Abare married on August 7, 1976 at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park, Kansas. Together they raised three amazing children.

John graduated high school from Bishop Miege in Roeland Park, Kansas in 1975 then quickly earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in agriculture from Kansas State University. John began his career in 1979 as an agronomist at North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center (CREC). After completion of a PhD in Crop Physiology at the University of Nebraska, he returned as the Director of CREC. His research on crambe seed led to his co-founding and role as CEO of AgGrow Oils, a North Dakota LLC that integrated the production, processing and marketing of oilseeds.

John believed deeply in education, particularly the mission of land-grant universities, and was dedicated to his work at North Dakota State University, the University of Missouri (1999-2007), the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (2011-2014) and Washington State University (2007-2011, 2014-2017). Before he retired in May 2017, his was serving as Vice President for Development and CEO of the Washington State University Foundation and was the Industry Liaison for the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment.

John loved and was a steward of the land, from the tallgrass prairie Flint Hills of Kansas to the gently rolling wheat fields of the Palouse. When John and Julie ventured to the Pacific Northwest, he transplanted the Kansas prairie by growing wheat and little bluestem grass on their balconies.
John steadfastly served and loved his family, his community and the land. The restoration of the Putnam House, a rural cultural and community center in Carrington, was a labor of John and Julie's love. John enjoyed listening to music, singing, and playing guitar at church and home. He embarked on long runs and walks, read countless books and newspapers, applauded the theater, drank black coffee every afternoon, appreciated a glass of good red wine, laughed often especially when watching SNL skits and retraced the entire trail of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

On the night before John's surgery in 2014, John and Julie vowed to dance every night, which they did for the remainder of John's life on earth. Peace is Flowing Like a River was their last dance.

John is survived by his wife of nearly 42 years, Julie, and their three children: Kate Gardner and husband Kyle Gustafson and their son Arlo Gardner, Elisabeth and her partner Ziad Altaha, and John and his partner Anita Rao. He is also survived by two brothers and their wives, Bryan and Tuffy and David and Jill, their families and many more dear family members and friends. He was predeceased by his father, John, and his mother, Christine (Liddy) Gardner.

A memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church, 8595 NE Day Road, Bainbridge Island, Washington, on Saturday, August 11 at 1 PM.

There will be an evening prayer vigil at Amos Family Funeral Home on Thursday, October 18 from 6 to 8 PM and a funeral mass Friday, October 19 at 10 AM at John's childhood parish, St. Agnes, 5250 Mission Road, Roeland Park, Kansas. John's favorite season was fall; this year he will be home for harvest.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made online to the John and Julie Gardner Food for Health Fellowship at Washington State University or to Bloedel Reserve for the Strolls for Well-Being program.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Christopher Gardner, please visit our flower store.


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