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Conrad Earl Gardner

February 16, 1938 October 30, 2017
Conrad Earl Gardner
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Obituary for Conrad Earl Gardner

Conrad Earl Gardner passed away peacefully on October 30, 2017. He was born the youngest of
four sons of James and Nina Gardner at St. Louis, Missouri on February 16, 1938. Growing up
in Arkansas City, Kansas, Conrad was a gifted student who while working as a swimming pool
lifeguard saved a teenager’s life from drowning. He graduated from Ark City’s High School in
1956 where he was a two-way player in football, earning a scholarship to Dartmouth College in
New Hampshire. Paying his way through college as a brakeman on the Santa Fe Railroad,
Gardner majored in English and was a disc jockey on WDCR radio where he anchored the
Nightwatch midnight romantic music program. He was also a photographer for The Aegis,
Dartmouth’s yearbook, photographing many subjects from sports to campus events to visiting
luminaries such as poet Robert Frost. After graduating Dartmouth in 1960 Gardner went to law
school at Stanford University, earning a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree, now recognized as
Juris Doctorate, in 1963. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1964 and to the Colorado Bar
in 1965, and among the lawyers he interviewed with was David Gorsuch, father of the future
Supreme Court Justice. Gardner joined the Golden law firm of Fleming & Pattridge, becoming a partner by the time it moved into its longtime location of 1200 Arapahoe Street in 1967 where he planted its trees that grow today. "That year Conrad Gardner was also admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court." Gardner also served in the Army and Colorado National Guard, where he was quickly assigned to the Judge Advocate General’s office to create new court martial guidelines after a string of dismissals due to technicalities. He was honorably discharged attaining the rank of Captain. Joining the Golden Jaycees, Gardner among many other activities presided over the placement, installation and time capsule installment of Golden’s Liberty Bell in front of City Hall in 1968. That year Gardner also served as Golden Municipal Judge. On June 22, 1968 he married Golden music teacher and organist Ingrid Norquest, with whom he would have two children, Heather and Richard. At this time Gardner was active in politics, becoming chairman of the Jefferson County Young Republicans successfully fighting the threatened takeover of the party by the John Birch Society, and was voted Outstanding Young Republican.
Resuming practice as an attorney Gardner successfully defended one of the contractors involved
in the construction of the prospective Golden Post Office at 17 th and Jackson Streets after the
building’s fatal collapse on September 4, 1969. He proved that the firm was not responsible for
the faulty construction created by others. In 1975 Gardner and his family moved to their lifelong
home at 5095 Pine Ridge Drive which Gardner designed himself, having earlier gained
experience designing his parents home in Arkansas City. There he spent his life adding a great
many to its wild grove of trees, creating a small forest that is now officially certified wildlife
habitat. Conrad Gardner served as a member of the Jefferson County Library Board for 19 years
from 1969 to 1988. During this time while as chairman the library was challenged in 1981 when
the FBI demanded the checkout records of John Hinckley Jr., attempted assassin of President
Ronald Reagan. This test of the balance between library confidentiality and national security
resulted in the FBI’s obtaining the records by court order rather than by demand. While serving
upon the board Gardner helped oversee the establishment and construction of new libraries
including Villa, Evergreen and Columbine, while later being instrumental in the building
exchange creating the present home of Golden Library. In 1985 Gardner began his individual
legal practice as Conrad E. Gardner P.C., moving into the historic Quaintance Block in 1990
where he supervised its restoration enabling it to become Golden’s first storefront listed on the
National Historic Register in 1994. Its companion Piggly Wiggly building next door was also
restored under his supervision and given historic designation in 2017. Becoming an active
advocate of historic preservation, Gardner joined the board of the Golden Landmarks
Association and served as President from 1995-1998, being instrumental in saving the Burgess

House hotel and Brickyard House from destruction, helping supervise the relocation and
reassembly of the Pearce and Reynolds Cabins and Guy Hill School to Clear Creek History Park,
helping spearhead continued preservation efforts of the Pullman House stage stop, and many
other endeavors for which he has been recognized as a Living Landmark by the organization. In
2015 Conrad Gardner was recognized by the Colorado Bar Association for 50 years of service,
and at the time of his passing was very possibly the longest serving attorney in Golden’s history.
Conrad is remembered by many for his desire to help others, many times at no charge, serving
the community, his talent for negotiating, for his thoroughness and integrity, and for his
engaging, humorous and optimistic personality, and his love of photography, music, sports and
more. Conrad Gardner was a longtime member of Faith Lutheran Church in Golden and is
survived by his brother Ronald of Arvada, wife Ingrid and children Heather and Richard of
Golden, and numerous beloved nieces, nephews and relatives. His legacy lives on through the
trees he planted, the places he built, and the landmarks he saved.


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