Jean Marie Gardner

Date of Birth

October 1, 1932

Date of Death

April 20, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Jean Marie Gardner of Santa Barbara, California, passed away peacefully on April 20, 2022 from complications resulting from a fall. She was 89 years old. Jean is survived and remembered lovingly by her five children, Leslie Prado (Rene) of Novato, California, Josie Cappel of Novato, California, Tony Gardner (Michele) of Fairfax, California, Mary Mota (Larry) of Petaluma, California, and Michael Gardner (Valerie) of Goleta, California; brother Tom Lynard (Wally) of Redlands, California; grandchildren Justin Bucksbaum of West Hollywood, California, Jasmine Gardner of Washington, D.C., Andy Gardner of Fairfax, California, and Sterling Gardner of Goleta, California; by various nieces and nephews; and by many friends all over the world. She was predeceased by her parents Wilma and Ambrose Lynard; and siblings John, Mary Jo, and Kay.

The fourth of five children in a happy family, Jean was born in 1932 in Owatonna, Minnesota, where her family owned several farms and a produce brokerage. When the Depression worsened, the family lost its farms and business and was forced to move to Duluth, Minnesota, where her father found work at a steel company. He died not long after from cancer. Despite these hardships, Jean retained a positive spirit. She discovered passions for figure skating and singing, and loved attending Saint Scholastica School for Girls.

Shortly after graduating from high school, she and her sister Kay took off for Yellowstone National Park, where they both worked in the Yellowstone Hotel. Jean then moved to Washington, D.C., where she trained for a job with the U.S. Information Agency, and met Jack Gardner, a handsome student at Georgetown University. She received a posting to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, but instead married Jack, choosing marriage over career aspirations like many women of that era. Jean found a job on Capitol Hill as a secretary for Senator Hubert Humphrey (a family friend), and in quick succession had three of her five children.

She finally made it overseas in 1959, when Jack joined the U.S. Foreign Service and the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. They led a glamorous life, making many international friends, throwing fabulous parties, and traveling in Java, Bali, and around the world. Two more children came along. Jean taught herself to play guitar and became the lead singer of a locally popular Indonesian band. This exotic existence came to an abrupt end in 1965, when the family was evacuated from Indonesia during the coup that overthrew President Sukarno. Jean settled in Santa Barbara with their five children, while Jack went off to his next posting – in wartime Vietnam where families could not go.

In Santa Barbara, Jean worked fulltime as a secretary for the Superintendent of the Goleta Union School District while single-handedly raising five children. Her separation from Jack contributed to their divorce in 1968. Like many others during that period, she began to question the conformism of American life. She met Peter (Pinche Pete) Velasquez, a master conga drummer, and moved with Pete and the family to a hippie commune in Big Sur. After returning to Santa Barbara, the family became regulars at parties and drum circles on Banana Road and Mountain Drive.

With her children grown up, Jean began a series of adventures and journeys of personal and spiritual growth. She learned video journalism and traveled to Hopiland in Arizona, where she helped document the Hopi struggle at Big Mountain against relocation and the Peabody Mining Company. She was proud to receive the honorary Hopi name of White Raven. She also lived for extended periods on the Big Island of Hawaii, where she made close friends and used her video skills in the fight for Hawaiian independence. She attended many annual gatherings of the Rainbow Tribe, and took part in an extended journey of members of the Rainbow Tribe through Mexico and Central America.

In her late 50s, she returned to school, receiving a B.A. in video journalism from the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth (her high school had since become a college) and an M.A. in the same subject from the University of Wisconsin at Superior. A highlight of this time for Jean was a semester in Ireland, where she traveled the country and researched her Irish ancestors.

Back in Santa Barbara, Jean moved to the Presidio Springs community on De La Guerra Street and was a beloved teacher of Video Journalism and Native American Studies at Santa Barbara City College. She continued traveling regularly to visit her children and to visit friends in Hawaii and Ukiah. She was a regular at East Beach Hawaiian music jams, practitioner of qigong and meditation, reader of the I Ching and Tibetan Buddhist teachings, and participant in the Summer Solstice Parade and Fiesta. She was a great support for her sister Kay, in Kay’s final years.

There will be a celebration of Jean’s life Sunday, July 10, 2022, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Rocky Nook Park, Group Site 1. Friends are invited to come and share memories and stories. Parking is limited, carpooling suggested.


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