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Ricky Gene Gardner, 64 years old, of Milan, Missouri, passed away Monday, October 3, 2022, at University of Kansas Medical Center.

Rick was born May 11, 1958, to Ralph Gardner and Phyllis (Moore) Riddle.

On July 27, 1985, he married Sara (Lantz) Gardner. Rick is survived by: His wife, Sara of the home; Mother, Phyllis of Milan; Children, Nick Taylor and wife Ashlee of Milan, and Fallon Gardner and fiancé Phill Srivisay of Merriam, Kansas; a daughter-in-law, Charity Taylor of Green City, Missouri; Grandchildren, Tori Taylor, Lancey Taylor, Cooper Taylor, Carter Taylor, Chloe Taylor, and Clare Taylor; Siblings, Sharon Gardner of Columbia, Missouri, Janet Maulsby and husband Cary of Milan, and Steve Gardner and wife Paula of Pharr, Texas; Aunts, Anna Lou Sears of Kansas City, Missouri, Frances Bunch of Milan, Jean Oertwig of Texas, and Carmen Yos of Kirksville; Brother-In- Law, David Lantz and wife Elizabeth of Dawn, Missouri; and several nieces and nephews.

Rick is preceded in death by: His father, Ralph Gardner; Stepfather, Wendell Riddle; a son, Christopher Taylor; a brother, Butch Gardner; In-laws, Ronald and Carole Lantz.

Rick grew up in Milan, graduating from Milan C-II Highschool in 1976. After graduating, he moved to Kansas City, and graduated from the Electronic Institute. He worked at King Radio and Bremson Photo. He then moved back to Milan, marrying Sara, and started working in Satellite sales. Rick then became a police officer for 5 years. He then worked in Cable, purchasing his own Cable company, MIC 2, in 2008.

Rick started volunteering at Milan Rural Fire Department in 1983, serving as a key member for almost 40 years and as the Fire Chief for many years. He taught fire safety to children in the elementary for almost 30 years, he also helped establish the two satellite stations in rural parts of Sullivan County. Rick helped secure $1M in fire equipment, and $250,000 in grants, he later served as the Milan City Fire Chief. His passion was serving the Milan community and his fire department family.

Rick served as a board member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the 911 Emergency Board, and the Athletic Booster Club. He was on the Milan city council, serving as the South ward alderman for 16 years. Rick was on the North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission Board for 17 years, serving as Chairman for 5 of those. Rick coached for Milan Summer Rec baseball and softball teams for a combination of 10 years when his children were playing.

Rick enjoyed spending time at Lake Thunderhead, he was an avid water skier in his younger years. He liked to fly his drones, going to the races in Winston and Knoxville with Mark Sayre, and was a NASCAR season ticket holder with his sons. Rick was crafty and tech savvy, making his kid’s and grandchildren’s Halloween costumes, Valentine’s boxes, and helping with their science experiments. Rick also loved watching his grandchildren play sports and spending time with his family at the movies and at their lake property.

A funeral service for Rick was held Saturday, October 8, 2022, at Schoene-Ruschmeier Funeral Home in Milan with Rolf Christen officiating. Honorary Pallbearers were: Mark Sayre, Steve Gardner, Brent Gardner, Nick Taylor, Ritnee Smiley, Shane Billington, and the Milan Fire Department Volunteers.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Milan Rural Fire Department or Sullivan County Senior Center.