Bob (Pop) Gardner died at his home in Katama on March 31 after a brief illness. He was 93 years old.
Although he had been frustrated with the physical limitations of his aging body over the past decade, he was proud to be, as he put it, in his “94th year” and the oldest member of his West Roxbury family of origin.
He grew up in the Boston area, the youngest son of Charles and Mary Ryan Gardner. Although he enjoyed Boston, he loved the island since childhood, when his maternal grandparents bought a house in Oak Bluffs near Ocean View. Bob’s fondest memories were of early summer when he and his parents moved into the vineyard for the season. He spent his days diving on the town pier with Ara Barmakian and Raymond Scott, and worked laying pins at the bowling alley at night.
He married Island native Ida (Buzzy) Goodwin and they lived in Boston for a decade. Along with their children Bob, Pam and Gail, they returned to Martha’s Vineyard and eldest Bob built the Katama Ranch which would be the family home for over 50 years. He worked for several builders on the Island before going freelance in the 1970s. He loved what he did every day. He could proudly identify hundreds of island buildings that he personally built or contributed to during his career. He was particularly proud that his houses were well made and fairly priced.
His greatest joy was raising his children on the island he loved. He attended every game, concert and horse show without complaint. In the summer, he and his kids snorkeled from Big Bridge Pier or Oak Bluffs, cycled to the Paper Store for candy, shot fly balls and attended band concerts with snacks from Darling’s Popcorn. Winters were synonymous with sledding and pond skating. He was part of the original team of hockey players to build a small rink for pickup games.
In 1985 he joined the Edgartown Golf Club Night Crawlers and began a 25-year love affair with the game. Although at one time he was a full member of the club, he preferred his mates Night Crawlers and had a tight-knit group (Ted Morgan, Dick McCarron, Marty Mard and Sherm Burnham) who loved hanging out, cheering each other on, and hanging out with each other. each other and solidify their lifelong friendships. Bob was the last of the Night Crawlers and missed them all terribly as each died. He left golf balls with their initials on their graves as a tribute.
Bob loved music. His family members will always associate him with the big band music, swing tunes and timeless classics of Jerry Vale and Frank Sinatra.
He was an island institution regularly seen at Reliable Market, Your Market, Katama Airport, and Katama Landing. When walking got tough, he exercised painlessly on his bike and became a fixture on Katama’s bike paths. When he stopped cycling at age 91, he had covered over 20,000 miles.
His family is very grateful to everyone who has taken care of him recently, especially Dr. Gerald Yukevich and Dr. Michael Michotek.
Buzzy predeceased him in 2004, but is survived by his son Bob and his partner Meg Archer in Ohio, as well as his daughters Pam and her husband Phil Fleisher of Beverly, and Gail and her husband Don Casey of Martha’s Vineyard. . He is also survived by his grandchildren Abby and Gwen Gardner, Evie Fleisher, Riley and Amelia Craig and Kiana Casey, as well as nephews and nieces, their children and grandchildren.
At his request, a formal service will not be held. Arrangements are in the care of Chapman Funerals and Cremations; please visit chapmanfuneral.com for the online guest book and more information.
Memorial donations can be made to Sandy Paws Rescue, PO Box 1772, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or online at andypawsmv.com/donate.