MONTCLAIR, NJ — John W. Gardener, of Montclair and Verona, died at the age of 97 on June 15 following a brief illness. He was the longest serving member of the Montclair Fire Department and the recipient of many valor awards. Gardener retired as Fire Chief in 1990. 

Predeceased by his wife Patricia and his son Paul K. Gardner, Gardener is survived by his daughter Barbara P. Foran, his sons Steven J., and John W. Jr. and daughters Shelia C. Marshall and Rita T. Gardner.  He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. 

Following graduation from Immaculate Conception High School, Gardner served in WWII as a bomber pilot and retired after 28 years in the United States Air Force Reserve as Lieutenant Colonel. 

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Gardener joined the Montclair Fire Department in 1945 and served for 44 years, retiring in 1990 as Fire Chief. According to Montclair officials, he nearly lost his life battling a blaze at Grunnings ice cream parlor, suffering severe smoke inhalation. 

Funeral services will take place as follows: the Hugh M. Moriarty Funeral Home 76 Park Street, Montclair, NJ on Wednesday June 20th at 8:45AM.  Then to Saint Theresa of Calcutta Parish,  The Immaculate Conception Church Montclair where at 10AM a Mass of Christian burial will be offered.  Interment Gate of Heaven Cemetery East Hanover.  Visitation will be on Tuesday June 19th from 4-8PM.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the John W. Gardner Scholarship Fund at Immaculate Conception