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Silver Taps Notification

Jay Gardner '61 November 4, 2022 3:36 PM updated: November 4, 2022 4:09 PM

Jay Melburne Gardner

September 10, 1939 - October 27, 2022

Jay Melburne Gardner, 83, of Kingwood, Texas, was welcomed by his Heavenly Father on Thursday, October 27, 2022. His Celebration of Life memorial service will be on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary of Kingwood United Methodist Church with a light lunch for all who attend afterwards in the lobby.

If guests would like, please wear maroon, white or gray, A&M shirts, or golf shirts/slacks to honor Jay “in case my friends have an afternoon tee time or the Aggies are playing.” Since the service is held when Society of St. Stephen will be distributing Thanksgiving baskets to their clients in the church’s main parking lot areas, please park in the lot across the street from sanctuary (located at 2307 Crystal Springs Dr., Kingwood, 77339). We hope you can join us as we share stories and remember Jay!

Jay was the eldest son of Judge L.M. Gardner and Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Craven Gardner. When he was 5 and his brother, David, was on the way, Judge served as a medic in the USARMY, so Betty and Jay moved to live with Betty’s parents in Waco. Betty’s mother (Eunice) was in her last months of survival from colon cancer, so Jay spent each day sitting at her bedside being told Bible stories and about her belief in God and Heaven. Jay had fond memories of this and credited his grandmother for giving him such a strong faith and interest in regular church attendance. During his youth, he and his family attended Austin Avenue Methodist Church where Jay was active in Sunday school and UMYF.

Following graduation from University High School in 1957, Jay chose to follow his father's two younger brothers, William ('41) and Weldon ('51) by enrolling in Texas A&M. While at Texas A&M, Jay was in the Corps of Cadets, became a distinguished student, was a member of the Honor Code Committee, Cadet Court, The Ross Volunteer Drill Team, 2nd Wing Staff, and it was his ultimate honor to be selected as Commander of Squadron 4.

Jay graduated with a business degree from Texas A&M in May, 1961. He was also commissioned at that time as a 2nd Lt. in the USAF and was offered an interesting job which involved being trained in Hartford for 5 months to become an Employee Benefits Specialist. Aetna also offered to hold the job for Jay until after he had completed his tour of duty, so Jay happily accepted their offer.

While commander of Sqd. 4, in October 1960, Jay organized an unofficial Corp Trip for his outfit to Waco for the Baylor vs A&M football game. Everyone interested and wanting a date had assistance from some of the existing Baylor girlfriends who were willing to help. This was when Jay and Myrna Marie Miles met. There must have been a mutual attraction, because Jay quickly invited Myrna to also accompany him to dinner and a sock hop his parents were hosting at their family's club that night, and then Myrna invited Jay to come take her to church the following morning. They continued courting by long distance until the 6th of January, 1962, at which time they were married in the First Baptist Church of Gatesville, Texas.

Jay and Myrna loved living in Laredo the next 2-1/2 years where they made many friends and enjoyed being guides for visiting family. Myrna had begun teaching first grade immediately following her arrival, and they enjoyed working with the youth group at the First Baptist Church in Laredo. Life was good!

Following Group School in Hartford, Jay was assigned to begin his career with Aetna in Houston, Texas, and they arrived December, 1964. They joined Second Baptist Church in Houston, which at that time was having its worship services in their gymnasium. They built their first home in Sharpstown, and in January, 1966, their son, Jeff, was born.

Their daughter, Mindy, was born in January, 1969, and the following November, Jay was promoted and transferred to take over Aetna's office in Beaumont. Meanwhile, Myrna had temporarily retired from teaching to assume more important duties running the household and caring for their children. They joined Calder Baptist Church and started working with the young married couples class. Jay became a Rotarian and joined Pinewood Golf Club.

In December, 1972, Jay accepted a promotion to Manager of Aetna's offices in Lubbock and Amarillo. They joined 2nd Baptist Church in Lubbock, and Jay was invited to join the local Rotary Club. At 2nd, Jay became involved with teaching the third grade, joined the choir, and also became active with his son in Indian Guides. They loved living in Lubbock and made many good friends, so it was difficult to leave in December, 1978, when Jay accepted the offer to return to the Houston Sales Office where it all began.

This time, the family discovered Kingwood and also Kingwood United Methodist Church. They joined KUMC and Kingwood Country Club in January, 1979. Jay became an active participant in the building fund campaign, began volunteering with Myrna with Sr. High MYF, and he attended the second UMARMY camp in College Station. He went on to attend 8 other camps in following years. Additionally, Jay chaired the Stewardship Committee, was on the Pastor Parish Committee numerous times, chaired Administrative Council, and served as an officer in the Agape Sunday School Class for several years.

Following retirement from Aetna at the end of 1997, Jay started enjoying his membership in KWCC and his love for the game of golf. He joined the OFWW (for retired golfers) and began playing competitively against 11 other golf clubs. He soon became Captain of his Interclub team and then President of the N. Houston Retiree Golf Association for two years. Additionally, Jay began a new hobby, flying Radio Controlled Airplanes, and he became a lifetime member of the JETERO RC CLUB. For many years, Jay met with flying friends every Wednesday for breakfast before heading to the flying field. There were also numerous trips with golfing friends to such places as Myrtle Beach, Scottsdale, and Pearl River Resort in Mississippi (which after 2002, became an annual trip with his brother, David, and 14 other good Kingwood and Waco golf friends.

Jay had an upbeat, easy going personality. He enjoyed being retired and with his family, golfing, flying, and church friends. He had a full and happy life!

Jay leaves behind his loving wife of 60 years, Myrna, and two children, Jeff Gardner and Mindy McQueen (husband Brent) of Kingwood. He also leaves 5 granddaughters: Gabby Gardner (husband Noah Powell), Leia Gardner, Melanie McQueen, Zoey McQueen (husband Brian Garcia), and Breanna Rylie McQueen. Additionally, he is survived by his brother David Gardner (wife Donna) of Waco, and nieces and nephews: Michael Miles (wife Chrissy), Charice Miles, Cody Chambers, Lacey Crawford (husband Brent), Misty Christensen (husband Tate), Wendy Stewart, and Kimber Gholson.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests In Memory donations to Texas A&M Association of Former Students, tx.ag/JayGardner or checks to Society of St. Stephen mailed to: Society of St. Stephen, P.O. Box 6989, Kingwood, TX 77325 with “Jay Gardner Memorial” on memo line.

 



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