February 5, 1945-
March 25, 2014
Columbus, Georgia- Mrs. Fannie Dee Gardner, 69 of Columbus, Georgia died Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at Fairburn Healthcare, Fairburn, Georgia. Funeral Services will be held 2 PM Saturday, March 29, 2014 at Sconiers Funeral Home Chapel, 836 5th Ave., Columbus, GA with Rev. Curtis Crocker officiating. Visitation will be 3-6 PM Friday, March 28, 2014 at the funeral home.
Fannie "Dee" Gardner
February 5, 1945 - March 25, 2014
Fannie "Dee" Reynolds Gardner was born in Union Springs, Alabama, and grew up in Columbus, Georgia. She came of age in the segregated South at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, which undoubtedly fueled her desire for self-determination. She ultimately became a Renaissance Woman, wearing many hats in life, and enjoying many different passions and pursuits.
Women's Army Corps (WAC)
Upon graduating from Spencer High School (Class of 1963), Dee enlisted in the U.S. Army. She soon found herself as an Army WAC stationed clear across the country at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. She relished the opportunity to serve her country and experience life outside the South.
She also met her future husband, Eli Gardner, an Army officer who literally swept her off her feet. They met at a military-supported Girl Scout camping event near Boise, Idaho. Dee fell ill one day. Eli, as the highest ranking officer there, could have ordered anyone to carry her to the First Aid station, but he insisted on being the one to do it. Not surprisingly, they married soon afterward!
Military Wife, Mother & Volunteer
Dee resigned from the Army and rejoined it, only this time as a military wife. She and Eli started a family. She then devoted herself to raising their two children while living in various places throughout the country, and taking college courses wherever the family was stationed. She loved moving and starting anew every few years.
She also found time to volunteer. Most notably, as president of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Fort Carson, Colorado, she served on a committee that became the model for the Army's protocol on child abuse. She also volunteered at military resale shops with home furnishings from around the world, which led to a life-long interest in furniture.
Dee eventually returned to her hometown with her family and took a job as a probation officer at Muscogee County Juvenile Court. She later became a custody investigator and eventually rose to Court Administrator. She worked tirelessly on behalf of children for 27 years before retiring. In 2001, she received the Liberty Bell Award for her efforts.
Upon retiring, Dee decided to follow her passion for furniture by opening her own store, The Vintage Thrift Shoppe, downtown on Veterans Parkway. She later closed that shop and started Avery Noll with her daughter, selling vintage furniture to interior designers located throughout the U.S. In fact, she would have been delighted to know that an unusual desk she sold to a Chicago designer is currently featured in the latest issue (April 2014) of Architectural Digest magazine.
During her final years, Dee enjoyed spending time with Eli and their dog Cocoa. She loved dining out with Eli at the River Club and participating in events with his fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi (The Boulé), and their wives. She also loved going out for Margarita Nights with her girlfriends; listening to her favorite music artists (The Beatles, Marvin Gaye & Michael Jackson); and visiting her sisters and their children.
Ever restless, she moved a lot, joking that she had lived in practically every neighborhood in Columbus! She claimed it was because she was used to doing that in the military. But everyone knew it was just so just so she could buy more furniture!
She and Eli eventually settled into a home on historic Hilton Avenue, built in 1926 and purported to be the first home in Columbus to get electricity. Then, after Eli passed away in 2009, she moved to Atlanta to be closer to her children and grandchildren.
She was a Presbyterian with a strong faith in God. She often said "It doesn't matter if I die tomorrow. I've had a wonderful life."
Survivors include her daughter Delores Gardner Thompson (Alexander); son Brian Eli Gardner; and three grandchildren, Eli Thompson, Elaina Gardner, and Natalie Thompson.
She also leaves behind two sisters, Wilma Hewell and Elizabeth Jackson; several nieces and nephews; and a host of other loving relatives from Union Springs, Alabama, and Georgetown, South Carolina.
She was predeceased by her husband; her parents, Norman and Alma Reynolds; three siblings, Norman H. Reynolds, Dorothy Rutledge and Shirley Chester; and her dog.
Her ashes will be interred alongside her husband's at Fort Benning Cemetery.
SCONIERS FUNERAL HOME - COLUMBUS
836 5TH AVE COLUMBUS, GA 31901
Published in Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on Mar. 28, 2014