Lilly B. Gardner, 86, passed away on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, in San Antonio. She was born on April 22, 1935, in Lowellville, Ohio, to Frank and Anna Panella. Raised with her sister in nearby Poland, Ohio, she was a popular, intelligent, and accomplished pianist, but had an urge to leave her small town and see the world. She met, fell in love with and married 1Lt. Mel Gardner, in April 1959, an Air Force officer involved in the burgeoning manned space program.
Lilly was one of those women who was ahead of her time, a real-life Renaissance Woman. An Air Force wife and mother and registered dietitian, she also made sure she advanced her own education and career. Her educational credentials include a BS in Institutional Management, MS in Foods & Nutrition, MS in Nutritional Biochemistry, and an MPA and DPA in Public Administration. She also held a wide variety of positions, from a USDA Biochemist, Vice-President of Capital Systems Group, Vice-President Aspen Systems Corp., owner/president of Precepts Inc., and finally CEO of LiSem Enterprises, Inc.
Later in life, as a widow with an empty nest, Lilly met Daniel Kolbialka, an accomplished violinist and musician. They fell in love and entered into a l4 year life together. Lilly took over the reins of LiSem Enterprises as CEO and ran the business, freeing Daniel to focus on creative output. She also recorded several CDs with Daniel exhibiting her deft skills on the piano.
In her long and productive life, Lilly lived in Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, and Texas. She was a people person and found time to volunteer with diverse organizations including, American Red Cross, SCORE, San Antonio Symphony, and the Globe Theatre Awards group.
Diagonosed with Parkinson's disease, Lilly fought a brave fight for several years. She succumbed to the disease seven months after the passing of her life partner, Daniel.
Lilly was preceded in death by her husband, Melvin S. Gardner; her parents, Frank and Anna Panella. She is survived by her children, Jeffrey Gardner (Rebecca), Ann Gardner (Ray Larry); grandchildren, Kristofer Padilla (Kristin), Michael Turner; five great-grandchildren; her sister GeorgeAnn Merrill; numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and many loving friends.
The family will receive friends from 5:30 pm to 7 pm on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at Porter Loring Mortuary North, with a rosary beginning at 7 pm.
OCTOBER 16, 2021
2102 NORTH LOOP
NOVEMBER 1, 2021
FORT SAM HOUSTON
1520 HARRY WURZBACH
Lilly's Son, Deacon Jeff Gardner, will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Parkinson Research Foundation.
You are invited to sign
the Guestbook at