Gardner Lakey, age 94, died on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. He was the son of C. Irving and Lucy Gardner Lakey. He was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Joan Ryan Lakey and his brother Russell Lakey. He leaves behind daughter Ellen Daly and husband Tony of Natick, MA, son Stephen Lakey and wife Melanie of Sarasota, FL, daughter Eileen Buckham and husband Jim of Wellesley, MA, daughter Geri Denton and husband Jeff of Stratham, NH, and daughter Maureen Gass and husband Jamie of Newton, MA. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren: Lauren and Andrew Lakey, Abigail Buckham, Nicholas and Tyler Denton, and Helen and Lydia Gass.
Gardner was born on April 30, 1926 in Warren, RI, grew up in Greenville, graduated from Smithfield High School, and lived most of his adult life in Warwick, RI. He attended Rhode Island School of Design for one year, and several years later, moved to Boston to attend Boston University. His time at BU was interrupted when he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served for two years during the Korean Conflict. He returned to BU after the army and earned a bachelor’s degree in education. He spent his 30 year career in teaching English at Gorton Jr. High School in Warwick. During this time, he earned a master’s degree in teaching from Rhode Island College and upon his retirement, an annual award was established in his name to recognize students’ outstanding efforts in learning. He was a member of the Rhode Island and National Councils of Teachers of English, serving as treasurer for many years and remaining active in these roles well into his retirement years. His many other jobs included lifeguarding, working at Sikorsky Aircraft and as
a summer camp counselor at Rocky Hill School.
Gardner was an avid college hockey fan and he and his wife Joan attended the Frozen Four tournaments all over the country for many years. They held season tickets to Providence College hockey in retirement, although he always remained loyal to his Boston University Terriers. He was a talented ice skater, played in an “Old Timers” hockey league for many years and continued to skate recreationally well into his 80’s. He also loved golf and enjoyed playing with and having weekly breakfasts with his retired teacher golf buddies.
Music was a huge part of Gardner’s life. He taught himself to play the harmonica as a young boy and he was still playing tunes for us during the last few weeks of his life. He created a time honored tradition of playing “Happy Birthday” to each of his children and later his grandchildren every year. He and his wife Joan had beautiful singing voices and enjoyed listening and singing along to their extensive collection of Swing, Big Band and barbershop music.
A service will be held on Friday at St. John the Evangelist church in Wellesley, MA followed by a committal service with military honors at Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, RI. Anyone who would like to honor Gardner’s memory would be welcome to donate to Better Day, Adult Social Day Program in Marlborough, MA at https://betterdayprogram.org/