Putnam – Joe Gardner, 80, passed away at home on April 26, 2021 after a hard-fought battle with cancer and COPD. He was adamant to live his final moments at home, with the care of DKH Homecare and Home Instead. Francis Edward Gardner, but known to everyone as “Joe” – had a deep voice, a booming laugh, a heart full of love, and a great big smile that always shown with the hint of mischief that he was known for. Born in Putnam, CT on January 13, 1941, he was the fourth son (of six) to the late Arthur and Grace (Morell) Gardner. Joe served in the United States Air Force from 1958 until his honorable discharge in 1962, where he served as a mid-flight jet refueller. His time in the Air Force was a great sense of pride for Joe. After the Air Force, he worked for several years at Electric Boat in Groton, and he spent the next 22 years of his career as a crane operator in Putnam. It was after that company closed down that Joe found himself a new career in the field of working with people with disabilities both with the Dempsey Center in Putnam and the Ability House in Dayville. He also worked in the linen department at Foxwoods Casino.
Joe’s favorite sport was baseball, and he was a loyal and avid Boston Red Sox fan. Watching the Red Sox break “The Curse” (and their success in the years following) was something he relished in and enjoyed bantering with Yankees fans over the years. His eyes lit up whenever he listened to his favorite singer, Sarah Potenza who became a dear friend. He was a man about town, and could often be seen in local establishments enjoying food, drink, and company while sharing many of his stories of “the good old days” when he was a bit of the town rebel. Whether it was fishing or swimming, Joe’s favorite place was near water. He lived in Rhode Island on a lake for many years. He enjoyed the weeks he spent each summer at the beach. Joe recently moved back to Putnam and was enjoying this independence – he could often be seen on his electric scooter, motoring down Woodstock Avenue, on his way to the local diner owned by his son Dale.
His grandchildren recall “Grampa Joe” as a social butterfly, a caring man with a silly sense of humor (a favorite memory involves the modeling of an ill-fitting bikini top), who loved telling stories and giving big hugs.
Joe is survived by his 6 children: Daniel, Celeste (Lussier), Dale, Celina (Burnett), Joseph, and Melissa (Myrick); his two remaining brothers, Roland and Charlie; 17 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren and his many special friends. Joe, wanting to continue to do good after his death, opted to donate his body to the science program at Quinnipiac University.
There will not be any services held for Joe, however, donations can be made in his memory to American Legion Post #13. P.O. Box 123 Putnam CT 06260. For memorial guestbook, please visit www.GilmanandValade.com.