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On November 20, 2015, Robert Lee (Bob) Gardner, 88, joined the 3 loves of his life who went before him...his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, his beloved sweetheart of 70+ years, Helen Frieda Entrekin Gardner, and his only child, Robert Lee (Bobby) Gardner Jr. Born and raised in Biloxi MS, Bob was very athletic and the star player in football, basketball and track for Biloxi HS where he met his beloved Helen. After transferring to Pascagoula HS in Pascagoula MS, he made the All-State football team. On weekends, he continued courting Helen by riding the train to and from Biloxi. After high school, Bob spent 6 months in the Merchant Marines before marrying Helen on July 22, 1945 and soon enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving as an Engineman on the USS LSM 378 during WWII and after, until his discharge in 1949. Bob soon found work in the oil fields of West Texas which inspired him to later seek a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A & M, graduating in 1955. He moved his family to South Carolina where Bob worked for DuPont, but was soon hired by Chemstrand (later known as Monsanto Textile Company) in the Pensacola area. He became an active member of the First Baptist Church of Pensacola where he sang in the choir, served as Deacon, and taught Sunday School classes. In the early 1960's Bob began working for ESSO Standard Oil of New Jersey (later known as EXXON) in their Overseas Division. His world-wide tours of duty included Caracas and Maracaibo, Venezuela, as well as the oil fields of Libya, Africa. As a Southern Baptist, he helped organize churches in these foreign countries, as well as travel as a missionary. After Bob's retirement from EXXON, he and Helen spent many hours volunteering at the First Baptist Church's Samaritan Hands, singing and traveling with the church's Singing Seniors Choir, and staying in contact with many missionaries around the world. Bob was active in the community, organizing and presiding over the first Hickory Shores Homeowner's Association where they lived. He believed in staying physically fit which kept him looking and feeling "young" all these years. He enjoyed hunting with his son, boating, skiing and staying in touch with family and friends, and traveling to places near and far. He loved God Almighty and looked forward to the day he would once again be with Helen and Bobby in heaven. Besides his wife and son, Bob was preceded in death by his father, William Lester Lee Gardner; his mother, Leona Elizabeth Thomas Gardner; his only brother, Clarence Oliver Gardner; his only sister, Joan Marie Gardner Lyle; his nephew, David Lee Lyle; and his niece, Sylvia Marie Lyle. He is survived by 3 granddaughters, Robyn Leah Gardner (New Orleans LA), Bonnie Leann Gardner (Gulf Breeze FL), and Jennifer Anne (David) Ratliff (Seattle WA); 4 great grandchildren, Nicholas Charles Simmons (Austin TX), Zachariah Allen Ponder (Laurel IN), Everett David Ratliff (Seattle WA), and Robert Graham Newsome (Gulf Breeze FL); a daughter-in-law, Teresa Gail Gardner; a sister-in-law, Barbara Jean Gardner Foster; a brother-in-law, James Martin Lyle III; 6 nephews and nieces, James Lyle IV (Austin TX), Christy Lyle (Glenn) Freeman (Starkville MS), Lesley Gardner Soukup (Seattle WA), Jon Lyle (Gulfport MS), Vicky Lyle (Walter) Hare (Gulf Breeze FL), and Paul (Frey Reggio) Lyle (Galveston TX). Bob also had many great and great-great nephews and nieces, as well as several cousins. Funeral services will be Tuesday, November 24th, at Rose Lawn Funeral Home and Cemetery in Gulf Breeze. Visitation begins at 11:00 AM with Services at 12:00 noon followed by military honors at the grave site. Dr. Barry Howard of First Baptist Church of Pensacola will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to Emerald Coast Hospice and/or First Baptist Church of Pensacola. Arrangements entrusted to Rose Lawn Funeral Home of Gulf Breeze. You may offer condolences, share memories and sign the guestbook at: www.roselawn-fh.com
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