Ernest Charles Gardner, 82, passed away on June 6, 2014, with his family by his side at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital. Ernest was born September 13, 1931, on the eastside of San Antonio, Texas to parents Earnest Gardner and Ruby Spears Gardner. Under the pastorship of Rev. Claude W. Black Jr., Ernest joined Mt. Zion First Baptist Church at the age of 9. He attended San Antonio’s Cuney Elementary and Douglas Junior High. Ernest Charles graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1950. While at Wheatley, he worked at the local boys club under Mr. Ford and gained the nickname “Cheesy” because he loved cheese sandwiches and brought them to school and work on a daily basis. After graduating, Ernest attended St Philip’s Junior College and Milwaukee State University.
From 1951 to 1955, Ernest Charles served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1955 as an Airman 2nd Class. He then served in the reserve unit for 10 years before retiring as a Staff Sergeant in 1967. Upon returning to San Antonio, he began his civil service career at Kelly Air Force Base as an Aircraft Electrician.
As an avid lover of music, Ernest joined the Royal Knights, a local singing group in the late 60’s, and later joined the Male Chorus and the Adult Choir at Mt. Zion First Baptist. While at Mt. Zion, Ernest also served on Usher Board No. 2 and was a member of Mission No. 9. Ernest Charles met Madelyn L. Davis in 1966. After a brief courtship, the two were married on Christmas Eve 1967, at St. James AME Church by Rev. M.H. Vanhoose. To this couple, two daughters were born; Cynthia Diane in May 1973 and Kimberly Anne in September 1978. Ernest was an avid tennis player, winning matches abroad in Japan while in the military and playing recreationally at McFarlin Tennis Courts. In addition, he coached a youth tennis club at Kelly Air Force Base. Ernest’s other interests included listening and scatting to jazz, traveling with his CB radio using the handle “Little Brown Mini Van” and closely following tennis on television. His tennis favorites were the late Arthur Ashe and Venus and Serena Williams. After 38 years of civilian service, Ernest retired from Kelly Air Force Base. He continued working as a greeter at Fiesta Texas and later a ticket taker and floor usher for concerts and Spurs games at the Alamodome. There, he met his favorite Spur, David Robinson, and delighted in having had conversations with him before and after games. He finally retired as a custodian at El Dorado Elementary School after years of progressive knee pain and arthritis led him to have two total knee replacements. Ernest developed Parkinsons shortly after that.
Ernest Charles was a devoted husband and father and loved spending quality time with his family. He often planned picnics, doubles tennis matches, trips to the beach and camping excursions. Very much about the business of keeping his family safe, he always made sure his wife and daughters were prepped and ready for any emergency at home as well as on the road. Ernest had a purposed heart for Christ. He was remarkably humble and incredibly kind. Ernest was preceded in death by his parents, Earnest and Ruby Spears Gardner; sister Stella Mae Hollis and cousins, Mary Moore and David Gardner.
Ernest leaves to cherish a lifetime of wonderful memories with his wife of 46 years, Madelyn; two daughters, Cynthia and Kim; granddaughter, Zoe; nephews, Nathan, Mark and Milton Hollis; first cousins, Sara Cook, Curley Spears, Beverly Gardner Nelson, Sharon Gardner Holmes, Clare Gardner Wyles, Darryl Gardner and Valerie Gardner; Godchildren, Doris Jean Jackson and Clifford King, Jr.; brother-in-law, Louis L. Davis and his son, Louis L. Davis, Jr. aka “Buddy”, the Pulliam and Ezebb families and a host of friends and neighbors.