Kerry Gardner, an exceptional teacher, coach, mentor, husband, father, grandfather, and friend, passed away on October 26, 2021. He will be sorely missed.
During his 30-year career as an English and math teacher at Handley High School in Winchester, Western Albemarle High School, and Charlottesville High School and as a coach for boys tennis and JV baseball at Handley and Western and every one of his son’s youth league baseball teams, Kerry touched the lives of thousands of young people. They respected and responded to his high standards, his commitment and purpose, his sense of fair play, and, above all, his kindness. Kerry regularly donated his JV coaching salary to a fund that provided sports equipment for children in need.
Kerry was born September 15, 1947 in Richmond, Virginia. From his father, Donald Bennison Gardner, a career Army officer, Kerry inherited his athleticism and his love of sports. From his mother, Dorothy Lorraine Gardner, an avid record collector, his eclectic appreciation of music. He graduated from UVA in 1970 as a history major, served two years in the Army, and returned to UVA to earn a master’s degree in education.
Kerry was known for his capacity for deep, enduring friendship as well as his encyclopedic knowledge. He could speak expertly, not just on tennis and baseball but also on opera, literature, popular song, and more. He had the gift of being able to talk to anyone—and he did. Kerry was also an accomplished athlete. For years, he was a devoted member of the Saturday Morning Crew, whose weekly 10-mile runs featured some of the most competitive runners in Charlottesville, and was a regular at local races and marathons. Having been a tennis pro in his twenties, Kerry played senior league tennis in his sixties.
A wonderful husband, loving father, and doting Pap to his granddaughter Collins, Kerry was very much looking forward to the birth of his namesake, Wells Kerry Gardner, due in December 2021. He is survived by Judy Gardner, his best friend and wife of nearly 40 years; his son Ben Gardner (wife, Ashleigh); sister Donna Howell; brothers-in-law Hank Howell and Jack Schlank (wife, Laurie); sister-in-law Anita Schlank; nephews Scott Howell, Brett Howell, and Jake Schlank (wife, Monique); and niece Hannah Alexander (husband, Michael). The family would like to thank the staff of Commonwealth Assisted Living for the considerate and compassionate care they provided during Kerry’s last weeks.
In lieu of sending flowers, you can donate to the Kerry Gardner Memorial Fund by sending a check to Western Albemarle High School and noting “in memory of Kerry Gardner.” This fund will provide sports equipment to needy high school athletes.
A memorial service to celebrate Kerry’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 14, at The Center at Belvedere, 540 Belvedere Boulevard, Charlottesville, Virginia.