Dee Isaac Gardner, 60, passed away peacefully at home in Springville on January 8, 2019.
His parents, Melba Isaac and Allen Gardner, instilled in him responsibility toward his community, compassion for others, and the determination to pursue meaningful goals. His father’s early death was a foundational moment in Dee’s life from which he gained an understanding of loneliness and loss he would draw upon in service to others.
Growing up in Springville, Dee enjoyed a childhood rich with neighborhood friendships, baseball, hunting, fishing, and family. During high school, he was active in student government, golf, and basketball. After completing a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany, Dee met and married his sweetheart Terri Taylor in the Manti Temple on December 21, 1979. He earned BA and MA degrees from Brigham Young University and a PhD in Linguistics from Northern Arizona University while he and Terri raised their seven children. Before pursuing graduate work, Dee spent a successful decade in mortgage banking.
Dee’s return to school was motivated by the desire to improve people’s lives. As a professor at BYU, he made substantial contributions to the field of Teaching English as a Second Language. Known for his meticulously crafted research, Dee was published in the flagship journals in linguistics. For over twenty years, he was a much-loved teacher and mentor.
As they grew up, his children found in Dee their most devoted fan and coach. For him, athletics was a vehicle for personal growth and service to others. He mentored his children and their friends through many years of basketball and running and was a constant presence at competitions. Dee was also an active runner, biker, and hiker. He particularly enjoyed backpacking with Terri. Nature provided yet another opportunity to connect with his family, whom he called his “greatest treasure.”
Befriending and encouraging the marginalized, struggling, and lonely was second nature to Dee. No matter what his church position--nursery worker, stake presidency counselor, institute instructor, or bishop--Dee worked to include all. He quickly found the good in others and was unafraid to challenge them to live up to their potential. Life was never more difficult for him than when he couldn’t help others, so ALS presented a unique challenge. Nonetheless, to the end, Dee’s greeting was an optimistic “How are you?” and his goodbye was an invariable “I love you.”
Dee’s faith was a beacon of hope to all who knew him. As he expressed in his final months, “I am a believer. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the Atonement. I have a very strong testimony that whether I’m on this side of the veil or the other, I’ll still be working with my family in some capacity.”
Dee wore out his life in service of his family and community. He was full of wry humor, perfect puns, and true compassion. We are deeply grateful for the love shown to Dee as his physical body wore down and for the generous service rendered to us since his passing. We are comforted that he is now with the family he loved so much and in the presence of Heavenly Parents and a Savior whom he served with his whole heart.
Dee is survived by his wife Terri; his children, Rebecca, Jennifer Frahm (Walker), Taylor (Beth), Spencer (Natalee), Neal (Emily), Owen, and Grant; his grandchildren, Isaac, Ben, Henry, Atticus, Layna, Mae, and Jack; his siblings, Brad (Lori), Ben (Kathy), and Gloria Nance (Mike); and the extended Gardner and Taylor families. He was preceded in death by his parents, Allen and Melba Gardner, and Terri’s father, Robert Taylor.
Funeral services will be held Monday, January 14, 2019 at 11:00 am at the Hobble Creek Stake Center, 495 S Canyon Dr, Springville. Family and friends may attend a viewing on Sunday evening from 5-7 pm at the Wheeler Mortuary, 211 E 200 S, Springville, and prior to the funeral from 9-10:30 am at the Hobble Creek Stake Center. Interment will be at the Evergreen Cemetery. Memories of Dee and condolences may be sent to DeeGardnerMemories@gmail.com.