Kenneth Gardner

Obituary of Kenneth Charles Gardner

Kenneth Charles Gardner, beloved companion, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, coach, mentor and friend, passed away peacefully at home with his loved ones by his side on February 7, 2024. In the end, Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a type of blood cancer, proved to be too much.

Kenny spent his last 30 years with his beloved, Cheryl. She describes him as a kind man of many hobbies, interests, and talents that don’t usually go together. He played football at Alisal High School and Hartnell College before playing as an offensive lineman at University of New Mexico while majoring in music with a specialization in singing baritone. His singing career started in 7th grade when he sang in a choir with his brother, Alan and sister, Kathy. He also played piano and liked listening to Queen, Ronnie Milsap, Phantom of the Opera, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac, to name a few of his favorites. Kenny enjoyed watching wrestling as much as he enjoyed Hallmark specials and feel-good Christmas movies. He worked with his hands throughout his life. Early on he worked for Pierce building fire trucks. Later he built custom golf clubs and specialized jewelry. He was sensitive and empathic as much as he was fearless in protecting his loved ones.

Perhaps Kenny’s greatest gift was his coaching of girls’ softball pitchers. He developed a unique method of fastpitch that was built on fundamental skills and incorporated full body coordination. He coached girls from 4 to 25+ years old for more than 38 years, some who played for the US Olympic softball team, professional softball leagues abroad, and at colleges and universities across the country. Kenny was proud of all his pitchers, regardless of how far they took their softball careers. Endearingly referred to as “Kenny’s Girls,” he mentored and encouraged each pitcher to believe in themselves, stay focused, keep trying, and stick to the drills. Good sportsmanship was just as important, if not more important to Coach as winning the game.

When Kenny wasn’t coaching and creating, he and Cheryl were enjoying life together. They golfed local courses, like Salinas Fairways and Laguna Seca, and famous ones like Bandon Dunes and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. They traveled to Myrtle Beach and road tripped in California and Oregon. One of Kenny’s favorite roles with Cheryl was being a grandparent to their grandchildren and being a guardian to the neighborhood feral cats. His grandpa name was “Paapaw.” Even when he used a walker, Kenny played ball with his grandchildren. His favorite feral cat, One-Eye, was allowed to sleep inside when Cheryl was out of town, unbeknownst to her. As much as Kenny was unique in his varied interests and talents, he was consistent in his kindness, loyalty and compassion for his family, friends, pitchers, feral cats and those in need. His sense of humor and goofiness were perhaps his most endearing qualities.

Kenny was predeceased by his father, William Leslie Gardner, Jr. born in Altus, Oklahoma and mother, Nell Marie Gardner (DeNoon) born in Springfield, Missouri. He is survived by his beloved, Cheryl Ann Smith, brother Leslie Alan Gardner and wife Linda, sister Kathleen Anna Gardner, daughter Micah Ann Scheufele, step-daughters Jayne Smith Dias and Sarah Girsch, step son-in-laws Carlos Dias and Carlo Girsch, nephew Thomas Leslie Machen and significant other Julia Burton, nephew Kenneth Charles Machen and wife Denia Aipoalani, niece Colleen Murray and husband David, and grandchildren Peter Michael Gregory Scheufele, Natalie Ryan Scheufele, Julia Michelle Scheufele, Emma Girsh, Jake Girsch, Elly Girsch, and Claire Sarah Dias.

A Celebration of Life will be held in the Sycamore Picnic Area at Toro Park off Highway 68 in Salinas, California on Saturday, March 23, 2024 from 12pm to 4pm. His remains are interred at Garden of Memories in Salinas, California.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: · American Cancer Society.

· Alisal High School Booster Club (Make checks payable to “Alisal Boosters Club” and memo “In memory of Kenny Gardner.” Mail checks to Alisal Boosters Club President, 777 Williams Rd., Salinas, CA 93905).

· Any cause you care deeply about.

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Kenneth
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Healey Mortuary and Crematory
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