James W. “Snake” Gardner, 69, of Rantoul died suddenly Thursday, April 18, 2019, at home.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 23, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Gifford. The Rev. Scott Guhl will officiate. Burial will follow in Huls Cemetery, Gifford.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Lux Memroial Chapel, 1551 E. Grove Ave., Rantoul. In addition, a celebration of life is being planned for a later date for friends and family to gather and celebrate Mr. Gardner as he would have liked it to be done.
Mr. Gardner was born Nov. 6, 1949, in Urbana, a son of Willard and Olive (Kyler) Gardner.
He is survived by three daughters, Angie (Jim) Hannagan, Jamie (Corey) Evans and Tracy (Ben) Gernent, all of Gifford; a brother, Melvin (Carol) Gardner of Toronto, Canada; eight grandchildren, Taylor, Rowdy and Cooper Hannagan, Mikayla, Carter and Brady Evans, Bryce Sjoken and Dalton Gernentz; and a nephew.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father.
Mr. Gardner graduated from Rantoul Township High School in 1949. He served in the U.S. National Guard for a few years then worked at the Clinton Power Station for several years. He was a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 149 since 1970 and started as a project manager for A&R Mechanical in 1980, serving as the company’s senior project manager for the last 25 years. In that role, he served as a leader in estimating and field installation and was a constant mentor and resource for all of the company’s employees.
His signature projects included some of the most difficult and complicated mechanical systems built in central Illinois, including the U of I Abbott Power Plant renovation, U of I Petascale Supercomputer, U of I Chemical and Life Sciences Building, U of I Memorial Stadium renovations, U of I State Farm Center renovations, Carle Heart and Vascular Institute and many more. He was well known in the pipe trades industry.
Mr. Gardner was often seen on the golf course and was on multiple golf leagues. He loved being able to drive out the back door and be on the Willow Pond Golf Course, where he spent many enjoyable days. He also loved to travel; he spent his off time in Florida on the beach. Many times he hosted family, and especially the grandchildren, for memorable vacations.
Memorials may be made to either CURED (eosinophilic disorders) or Faustman Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital (researching Type 1 diabetes).
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