Arthur “Les” Leslie Gardner ’52

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In Remembrance - Spring 22

April 28, 2022

The life of “Les” Gardner was full of service, passion, and commitment to Graceland, the RLDS Church (now Community of Christ), and the Lamoni communities.

Arthur “Les” Leslie Gardner was born August 24, 1929, in Wallsend, Australia as the middle son of five boys. He grew up across the street from a local school and became enamored with school and education. After high school, Gardner went to work at a local bank in Newcastle to save his money to fulfill his dream of attending Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. Gardner enrolled at Graceland in 1950, anticipating a return to his native home Australia to teach, but when he graduated in 1952, he went to work for the church in Canada, New Zealand, and Korea.

On May 28, 1954, Les was united in marriage to Ava Ann Wallace, a classmate he had met as a freshman at Graceland. Gardner and Ava re-met at a church event in Independence and realized the initial spark they felt for each other had grown into a deep love, and they decided to marry. In 1973, on his 44th birthday, Les joined the faculty at Graceland College, teaching in the Social Science Division. Gardner served as director of Graceland’s intercultural affairs from 1976 to 1991 and was instrumental in setting up the student exchange program between Graceland and Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary.

In his retirement, Gardner dove into the Lamoni community serving in multiple capacities to support his friends and neighbors; he even developed a “Life in Lamoni” blog. Gardner was a beloved member of the Graceland community; he left this earthly life on Friday, April 16, 2021, from his Lamoni home.

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