It is with great sadness that the family of Joan E. Gardner (Gerhard) announces her passing on March 24, 2018, at the age of 81. Joan was received into the loving, open arms of our Lord and savior.  

Joan grew up in Greene and Charles City, Iowa. Known for her ease in frequent conversation with even total strangers, some may be surprised to learn of the shyness of her youth. Yet even as a child, she possessed a contagious smile and sweetness. Throughout her life she maintained a sweet demeanor that won the trust and hearts of many. We will always remember her beauty inside and out, her comfort, her joy, her warm and loving heart and spirit. We will cherish each and every memory of our mom, grandmother, great-grandma, aunt and friend. 

Joan is preceded in death by her mother Nova and ex-husband Joe Gardner.  

Surviving immediate family who cherish her are daughters, Trish Flanders (Rick) Mesa, AZ; Marilyn Gardner Casa Grande Arizona, Julie Arch (Tim) of Portage, Michigan, sons Jeff Gardner (Nancy) Kalamazoo, Michigan and Michael Gardner Scottsdale, Arizona; grandchildren include Alecia Aylward, Mesa, Arizona; Penny Gardner Kalamazoo, Michigan, Maxwell Arch Portage, Michigan, and Zoey Arch Portage Michigan; great-grandchildren Layla Aylward Mesa, Arizona and Makaila Furderer Kalamazoo, Michigan.  She touched so many lives and those memories will live forever in our hearts.

Our Celebration of Life service to honor Joan will be held June 9, from 1-3 p.m. at Portage United Church of Christ, Portage, Michigan and internment in the Riverside Cemetery in Three Rivers, Michigan. She also had a Celebration of Life in Arizona. Please share memories and condolences if you wish on at  In lieu of flowers, her family suggests contributing to animal rescue organizations such as the SPCA and supporting organ donor registration. She was a registered donor and recognized as a hero. To also honor her love of animals, consider giving a needing pet a forever home.  The family is deeply grateful for the outpouring of love, prayers, and support in many heart-felt forms from too many people to name individually.