Howard Lee Gardner 73, Spring Hill, Kansas passed away Saturday, April 20, 2019 at Good Samaritan Society, Olathe, Kansas. Visitation will be Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Bruce Funeral Home, 712 S. Webster, Spring Hill, Kansas 66083 (913-592-2244). Rosary at 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 a.m. Thursday, April 25, 2019 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 501 E Chippewa St., Paola, Kansas. Burial with Military Honors will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Paola, Kansas. To honor Lee’s memory, memorials may be made to Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Paola, Kansas or the Good Samaritan Foundation in Olathe, Kansas. Condolences may be left at brucefuneralhome.com
Lee was born in St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1946. His mother, Barbara Beachler Gardner, was a female pioneer working in the Navy cryptology department during World War II. Lee was raised in Florida, an original Florida cracker, as he would say. He was a lifeguard on Clearwater Beach in his high school years at Bishop Barry Catholic High School. Upon graduation, he attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas for a brief time before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1966. He served heroically in Vietnam and received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Upon returning to the United States, he married Constance Forge in 1970 in Leavenworth, Kansas. They had three children, Matthew (deceased), Kristine, and Jeffrey. They divorced in 1987.
Lee worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in Kansas City, Missouri for over 20 years. In 1990, he married Paula Downey and moved to the Seattle area for her job. In Seattle, he worked as an engineering technician for five years. In 1995, Lee moved to Glendale, Arizona for his wife’s job and to get some sunshine. In Arizona, he attended Glendale Community College and in 1998, he received an Associate’s of Science degree in Automotive Technology. He volunteered for many years at the automotive program at Cactus High School in Glendale, Arizona. In 2004, he moved to Spring Hill, Kansas. He volunteered in the automotive program at Gardner Edgerton High School for many years until his health prohibited continuing. Lee loved working with the teenagers at both high schools and sharing his passion for cars. He loved cars, especially building cars and drag racing.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents and son Matthew. Lee is survived by his wife, Paula of the home and children: Austin and Franklin of the home, Kristine and Jeffery, as well as, many friends and family in Kansas and Florida.