ALTONA - Lester "Pete" Gardner, 82, of Altona, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at Heritage Commons in Ticonderoga with his loving family by his side.
He was born in Altona on March 11, 1931, the son of Edward and Melvina (Duquette) Gardner. He married the love of his life, Virginia Ruth Gardner at St. John's Church in Lake Clear on Feb. 28, 1953.
Pete was a parishioner of Holy Angels Church in Altona. Pete was a master farmer. He was raised on his family's dairy farm. When his parents retired he also retired from his job as a postal mail carrier and took over ownership of the Gardner farmstead. After retiring from his own farm, Pete became the farm manager at the Clinton Correctional Facility dairy farm. After working and providing for his family for more than 40 years Pete retired from the state in 1993.
Pete was an avid logger, woodsman, hunter, fisherman and mechanic. He worked on small machines, cars, trucks, and farm machinery and assisted family, friends and neighbors with his skills. For years he enjoyed bowling with a crew of his Altona buddies and also bowled in a mixed league with his wife and their Altona friends. Prior to his retirement he was a volunteer for the Altona Fire Department. He had pride in his hometown, family and friends. He loved playing poker with his buddies; but pinochle was his passion and pastime with family and friends. Pinochle was "the family game" and all family members learned to play at a very young age.
He was a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather serving as a great role model for his daughters and sons. He and his wife enjoyed spending their winter months in Florida. He was head over heels in love with his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Always adoring them with hugs, kisses and his infectious smile till the very end.
Survivors include his three sons and a daughter-in-law: Patrick Gardner of Chazy Lake, Michael and Amy Gardner of Altona and Pete Gardner of Plattsburgh; four daughters and three sons-in-law: Debra and Charles Bruce of Saranac Lake, Cynthia Jennett of Plattsburgh, Patricia and Todd Stein of Ithaca and Barbara and Jay Marking of Plattsburgh; a son-in-law Kenneth Lushia of West Chazy; 19 grandchildren: Scott Lushia, Neil Lushia, Matthew Bruce, Daniel Bruce, Alison Reznek, Katie Caska, Ashley Jennett, Christopher Ackerman, Nathan Merrick, Bradley Gardner, Leslie Marking, Jace Marking, Heidi Marking, Justin Gardner, Jill Moore, Juliana Gardner, Corrinne Butz, Craig Gardner, and Casey Gardner; 12 great-grandchildren: Arianna Ackerman, Gabriel Caska, Sophia Caska, Oliver Reznek, Jazmin Lushia, Kristen Lushia, John David Lushia, Kateri Lushia, Evan Gardner, Kaylee Moore, Rilyn Coupal, and Jaysen Butz; many nieces and nephews; two sisters: Geraldine Kwetcian of Lyon Mountain and Georgianna Hogle of Mooers; and his devoted caretaker, Donna Moore, whom he lovingly referred to as Grandma.
Lester was predeceased by his loving wife Virginia Ruth Gardner on Aug. 10, 2013; his daughter Sandra Lushia on March 31, 2009; his brothers Maynard, Robert, Lionel, and Alden Gardner; and his sister Hortense Williamson.
Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9 at the R.W. Walker Funeral Home, 69 Court St., Plattsburgh. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10 at Holy Angels Church in Altona. Burial will take place in the parish cemetery at a later date. Immediately following the burial, will be a celebration of Pete's life at the Rainbow Banquet Hall in Altona.
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center at SUNY Plattsburgh or Heritage Commons Residential Health.
Online condolences may be made to the family by visiting www.rwwalkerfh.com
Arrangements have been entrusted to the R.W. Walker Funeral Home, 69 Court Street, Plattsburgh, NY, 518-563-1760.