Obituary of Ronald Paul “Co Chee” Gardner

Ronald Paul “Co Chee” Gardner
(February 9, 1939-October 25, 2004)

Ronald Paul ‘Co Chee’ Gardner, 65, of 101 Wilderness Road, Negaunee Township, was taken into the arms of his Creator on Monday, October 25, 2004, at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, Marquette, where he had resided for the past year.

Ron was born February 9, 1939, in Rockland, Michigan, a son of the late Nedward and Ethel (Picard) Gardner. His childhood years were spent in Calumet and he attended the Calumet Public Schools.

Ron was a veteran of the US Army, serving from 1958-1960 in Formosa and Korea. While in Formosa, he was decorated by then President of Free China, Chiang-Kai-Shek, for Bravery Above and Beyond the Call of Duty for rescuing a young girl from shark-infested waters.

On March 17, 1960, he married the former Betty Jean Penrose of Indiana in St. Joseph, Michigan. Ron was employed by the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company in Calumet from 1960 to 1967; and was a heavy equipment operator with the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Company in Negaunee from 1968 to 1994, when it became necessary to take a medical disability retirement. Ron had a successful kidney transplant in 1996.

Ron was a proud member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, and was well known for creating authentic Native American drums. He was chairman of the Michigan Intertribal Coalition of Ishpeming and Negaunee. He enjoyed the outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, and learning about his Native American ancestry and traditions. He was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Negaunee.

Ron is survived by his loving companion of 44 years, Betty; four children, Charlene (Guillermo) Gonzalez of Japan, Cathy (Kevin Kelly) Gardner of Gwinn, Ronald J. (Sharon White) Gardner and Paul N. (Cindy Nylander) Gardner both of Cadillac, MI; seven grandchildren, Adriana Ruiz, Jordan, Daniel, and Brandy Bugge, Joseph and Jessica Gardner, and Joshua Vaughan. He is also survived by three brothers, Kenneth (Joyce) Gardner of Colorado, James (Mary) Gardner of Wyoming, and Roger (Mary) Gardner of Florida; two sisters, Lenore (Robert) Jewett of California and Carol Amos of Florida. Numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and a wide circle of friends also survive. Besides his parents, Ron was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Christine Elaine in 1962.

Traditional Native American ceremonies and visitation will be held at the Fassbender Funeral Home on Thursday from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am Friday morning, in the funeral home, with Rev. Jeff Johnson, Marquette General Hospital chaplain, officiating. A Native American farewell will follow. Burial be held at the Lake View Cemetery in Calumet on Saturday morning at 11:00 am.

Source: Fassbender Funeral Home

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