Gardiner Alexander Graham, 98, of Hudson and formerly of Roberts, died on March 17, 2011 at the Christian Community Home. He was the third of four sons born to Francis and Mary Alice (Turner) Graham on May 14, 1912 on Warren St. in Roberts, WI. Following his graduation from Roberts High School, he attended the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1934 with a degree in animal husbandry. On September 18, 1937, Gardiner was united in marriage to Violet A. Berg at her parent’s home in Minneapolis.
He began his professional career in the field of soil conservation, educating farmers in southern Minnesota on methods to prevent water erosion of their soil and regularly worked with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to accomplish this goal. Gardiner and Vi then moved to St. Cloud, MN, where his soil conservation work focused on prevention of wind erosion. During this time, they were blessed with two children, Susanne and David.
In 1945, Gardiner and his young family returned to the Graham farm in Roberts, where he began developing a Grade A Holstein milking herd. For the Graham family (Gardiner was third generation) to continuously operate the farm over a hundred years, the Graham family farm was recognized as a “Wisconsin Century Farm” in the 1980’s. While a full-time farmer, Gardiner also was active in the Twin Cities Milk Producers Association and served as farmer representative on the milk co-op’s executive committee. It was during this period that the storage of milk transitioned from cans to bulk tanks. Over the years he encouraged many young men to learn the farm business, employing more than 50 farm hands, teaching them the skills as well as the camaraderie of farming. During his farming career and after “retirement”, Gardiner served as a Warren Mutual Insurance agent, helping rural families acquire adequate insurance as well as addressing their claims.
Gardiner was a progressive thinker. When he recognized that the village of Roberts needed more building sites in order to grow, he initiated work on “Graham’s First Addition”, and by 1974 a hay field (bordered by Hwy 65 and Cty TT) was plotted for 15 single-family dwellings plus Centennial Square. He also was a giving man, often visiting friends in nursing homes, delivering Vi’s cookies, or assisting others with their yard work.
Besides farming and insurance, Gardiner worked as the Warren Township assessor for approximately 20 years, served on the Roberts school board, was an active volunteer and supporter of the library (together with Vi), served on the cemetery board, and worked as the cemetery sexton. He dedicated over 20 years of service to the Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ, first as treasurer (1956-76) and then as financial secretary (1992-94).
Gardiner and Vi enjoyed traveling. They made excursions as far away as China and Scandinavia, and also enjoyed their many trips throughout the U.S. with family members. They were avid vegetable and fruit gardeners and had a huge garden. He liked to golf and spend time roaming in the woods, caring for the many trees he and Vi had planted. Gardiner wrote two books, with editing help from Vi: “Farming As I’ve Seen It: A Collection of Family Farm Memories” and “Roberts Community As I’ve Known It: A Collection of Community and Family Memories”.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife Vi in 2009; his parents; three brothers: Roger, Francis and Bruce; son-in-law, John M. Fisher; and daughter-in-law Helen F.Graham. Gardiner is survived by his daughter, Susanne G. Fisher of Hudson; his son, David C. Graham and wife Mary of New Jersey; three grandchildren: David B. Fisher and wife Wendy, Kathryn M. Ovington and husband Matthew, and Sarah R. Graham and partner Kyle Bloomstein; six great-grandchildren: Graham & Tess Ovington, Aidan Graham, Ari & Omar Bloomstein, and Riley Violet Fisher; two step-great-grandchildren, Haley & Hunter McCorvey; and many wonderful, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A Celebration of Gardiner’s Life will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, April 2nd at Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ with Rev. Delbert Permann and Rev. Stephanie Anthony officiating. Burial will be at the Warren Cemetery in Roberts. Visitation will be at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson (715-386-3725) on Friday, April 1st from 4:00 to 7:00 PM and for one hour prior to the church service. In Gardiner’s honor, memorials may be directed to the Roberts Congregational UCC Church – Building Fund, 1001 Birch Drive (Highway 12), Roberts WI, 54023 or to the Hazel Mackin Community Library – Building Fund, PO Box 88, Roberts WI, 54023.
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