August 6, 1933 - August 27, 2019
Service Date: September 4, 2019
Service Location Piasecki Funeral Home
A Visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Piasecki Funeral Home, 3720 39th Avenue. A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Following the service, Merle will be laid to rest with full military honors in South Bristol Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the SWAAC-Southern Wisconsin All Airborne Chapter of Wounded Warrior, c/o Nick Pulera, 7527 19th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53143.
Merle L. Gardiner, 86, of Bristol, passed away at home surrounded by his loving family on Tuesday August 27, 2019. He was born in Minneapolis, MN, on Aug. 6, 1933, to W. Earl and Mae (Turnbull) Gardiner. Merle briefly lived in McClusky, North Dakota and grew up in Rewey, WI. He graduated from Rewey High School in May 1951; immediately entering the United States Marine Corps. As a trumpet player with the Marine Corps Band, he was humbled to have played Taps over the USS Arizona Memorial and Punchbowl Cemetery. Merle was honorably discharged from service in 1954. He attended UCLA and IIT in Chicago. In 1958 he graduated from UW-Platteville with degrees in Biological Sciences and Chemistry.
Merle taught chemistry and general science between 1958-1970. He was proud to mentor many students who pursued advanced degrees in chemistry. In 1966 he formed the Sci-Guide Co., an educational resource firm. After the NASA moon landing, he was granted access to samples of the moon rocks. He presented his findings to President Nixon and Astronaut Armstrong.
In November 1970, Merle married his sweetheart Susanne “Susie” (Pharr-Cleveland) at United Methodist Church in Waukegan, IL. He gained family in a stepdaughter and stepson and together they had a daughter.
Merle worked as a chemist for Mazer Chemical for four years. In 1975 he co-founded Trans-Chemco, Inc with his wife. He worked as head of Research and Development and Vice-President until his retirement in 2014. He was passionate about his work, developing an extensive product line, which continues to be used and respected in the food grade silicone foam control industry.
Merle believed in love of family, dedication to hard work and community service. He was a longtime member of Bristol United Methodist Church. He was active in the Bristol Business Association, serving as President at its inception. He was a Board Member for the Kenosha Area Business Association and was active for 30+ years in the Westosha Kiwanis Club. Merle also acted as a mentor for local high school students interested in chemistry.
In retirement, Merle pursued his dream of both photography and travel; seeking photo-ops in England, Africa, the Galapagos Islands and across the US. He captured the simple beauty of nature and the obscurities of human nature. He enjoyed listening to the golden oldies; creating photo books with his good friend Mike Haney. For over 25 years he enjoyed daily breakfast with friends at the “Table of Knowledge”, discussing all relevant and irrelevant topics. He also enjoyed spending time researching with his daughter and singing songs with re-imagined lyrics with his grand and great-grandchildren. Merle loved playing Upwords with his wife Susie, watching a John Wayne western and was known on occasion to enjoy a “nice vanilla malt” and a slice of gooseberry pie.
Merle left a legacy of strength, humility, humor and kindness. Merle would be honored if you were moved to step outdoors, breathe in nature, capture the moment and hug a loved one.
Merle will be remembered as a generous and beloved husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Susanne Gardiner, daughter, Amber (Wim Leydes) Gardiner, stepdaughter, Sheila (Donna) Cleveland, Grandchildren, Jodi (Joe) Pirkovic, Dustin Cleveland, Caryssa (Jeremy) Christian, Amanda (John) Bybee and great-grandchildren, Dylan, Tori, Anthony, Chase. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Eldon Pape and many nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved siblings, brothers, W. Earl (Bev) Joseph (Leda) Gardiner; his sisters, M. Vivian (Orville) Place, Betty Pape and Evelyn (Norb) Bruder; and his loving stepson, Jeffrey “Randy” Cleveland.
The family would like to thank the kind staff of Hospice Alliance. We’d further like to thank Rae Taylor, Dylan Miracle, Marilyn Kieffer and Linda Gardiner for the tender caregiving. And our deep gratitude to Joe & Linda Lindley for the love and spiritual support during Merle’s transition.