Obituary: Howard F. Gardner, Mar. 12, 1948 – Mar. 26, 2019 |

Obituary: Howard F. Gardner, Mar. 12, 1948 – Mar. 26, 2019

Howard Francis Gardner, 71, died on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, surrounded by family after a courageous battle with lung cancer.

Born in Ashland, Kentucky, he was the son of Dr. Richard and Ruth (Coughlin) Gardner. Howard attended the University of Kentucky where he was a member of their rifle team with aspirations of the Olympics.

After college, Howard married Janice Herringshaw and they headed west to Colorado, landing in Vail, where he opened the West Vail Liquor Mart. Blessed with two children, Kelly Susanne and Brian Michael, they loved the Vail Valley and created a community of friends that became like family.  In 1998, Jan preceded Howard in death.

Over the years Howard was very involved in the community. He served as a volunteer fireman and was a board member of the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District. Howard also served as the President of the Board of Directors for Vail Christian High School for many years. After selling the West Vail Liquor Mart, Howard remained involved joining the “Red Coat” volunteers for Vail Resorts on Beaver Creek Mountain.

In 2001, Howard married Reneé Ristow and his family grew with two stepsons, Oliver Chandler,and Elliot Morris. For years Howard could be found in the bleachers cheering on the boys or on the sidelines photographing their sporting events. Howard and Renee shared a love of traveling, especially if their destination was on the water. Early in their relationship they each obtained their captain’s license and were happiest on a sailboat out in the middle of nowhere with each other. Besides sailing, Howard enjoyed skiing, hiking, biking and photography.

Howard had a love for life and knowledge. He was a voracious reader and always curious. With his adventurous spirit, he was up for any challenge and always willing to lend a helping hand. Howard possessed an easy smile and a kind heart; he was a welcoming soul and never met a stranger. His greatest joy was watching his four kids make their way in the world.

Howard was also preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife Reneé; his daughter Kelly (Jon) Christensen and their children Alana and Jonah; his son Brian (Ivy) Gardner and their children Laura and Grant; his stepsons Oliver and Elliot Ristow; and his sisters, Coragail Steele and Greta Gardner.

So Howard, clear sailing … may the wind always be at your back.

The family is planning a celebration of Howard’s life on May 30, 2019, at 3 p.m. at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion.

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