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Donald ("Don" "Donnie") Ray Gardner

February 22, 1954 - July 27, 2022


Donald ("Don" "Donnie") Ray Gardner

February 22, 1954 - July 27, 2022


Obituary For Donald ("Don" "Donnie") Ray Gardner

Sun Prairie - Donald (“Don” “Donnie”) Ray Gardner was born on February 22, 1954 in Galesburg, Illinois to Charles R. Gardner and Frances A. Gardner (Steele). Don grew up in Knoxville, Illinois, with many of his closest friends and family members and attended Knoxville High School where he was Senior Class President. He graduated with a Liberal Arts degree from Knox College in 1976. For many years, Don worked as a salesman for Deluxe Checks, making many lifelong friends. He leaves behind his loving wife, best friend, Cheryl Burns, and his pride and joy, daughter, Allie Gardner. He was preceded in death by his father Charles, mother Frances, brother Robert “Bobby” and sister JoLynn.

He was an amazing father to Allie, showing up for every gymnastics competition, having a snack ready in the front seat of the car when he picked her up from school, and being the only dad kicking in the wrong direction during a dads-only half-time basketball game performance. As a devoted partner and husband to Cheryl, he shared a passion for food, wine, and music, often traveling to wine country, attending concerts, and keeping her dinner warm every night waiting for the call that she was on her way home. He was a cherished friend to former classmates, co-workers, and family members, golfing, playing softball, attending summer barbecues, and serving his famous sheet cake and ribs. He remembered every birthday, Christmas, and wedding with a card, a tin of homemade cookies and candies, or his presence. He was a kind, generous, thoughtful person who laughed often, smiled warmly and made friends wherever he went.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Levy Giving Fund, a charitable organization for which Don, Cheryl, and friends often volunteered. Donations can be made online at

Please attend the visitation as you are able. It will take place on Monday, August 8, 2022 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Ryan Funeral Home, 6924 Lake Rd., DeForest, WI. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
Windsor/DeForest Chapel
6924 Lake Road


8 Aug


04:00 PM - 07:00 PM

Ryan Funeral Homes - DeForest / Windsor 6924 Lake Road DeForest, WI 53532 Get Directions »
by FHW Solutions

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  • 08/08/2022

    In honor of my beloved father in law Don Gardner. You will be in our hearts and memories forever and your grandchildren will certainly know how amazing was sharing your life with us. We will see each other later and I will take care of our family. Your son in Law Alex.

  • 08/08/2022

    The Warda family is thinking of you . Our deepest sympathies.

  • 08/05/2022

    Don was a long time Golf Mate every July in Green Lake for over 30 years. Loved to share stories and yarns. Always made me laugh and forget about my worries. Had a different way of looking at things that made you think. He was a good man. Steve Kassner

  • 08/04/2022

    Deepest sympathy to Allie and family. I only know Allie who served as an exceptionally effective organizer for Common Ground. Some Milwaukee people are indebted to her for her hard work and caring for the Sherman Park residential area. Doris Wallace, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • 08/03/2022

    May something that is said, a memory that comes to mind, or friends and family surrounding you, bring comfort to your heavy heart. Prayers and respect to your family, Beverly Williams, GBIO

  • 08/02/2022

    I had the great pleasure of knowing Donnie (aka Dandy Don) for 40+ plus years. We played a golf tournament in Wisconsin the third week in July for 35 years and Dandy always participated. His character was part of the fabric that made this event so special. Upon his arrival, Dandy would light up the room. I will miss but always remember his quit wit and uncanny ability to make us laugh. Donnie you will be physically missed but spiritually remembered for an eternity. I send my deep felt love and comfort to Cheryl and Allie. Rest In Peace Dandy until we meet again. Tomah Tommy Hedrich

  • 08/01/2022

    Sending our sincere sympathy. J.D. and Sally (Nelson) Putnam, Knoxville, IL

  • 08/01/2022

    So sorry for your loss. Donnie was always such a kind, fun KHS student, was good to see him at reunion Deb Myers

  • 08/01/2022

    I will always remember Don. I used take his mom to appts. He did alot for mom! He always came down to Knoxville cemetery ever year to put out flowers for his folks and sister He always remember my birthday and Christmas He had great sense of humor may God comfort Cheryl Allie and all family and friends

  • 07/31/2022

    Hi Allie, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. He sounded like a wonderful person, and a big influence in your life. I wish you, your mom, and extended family my condolences and prayers. Sue Giaimo

  • 07/31/2022

    Donnie was my very first friend/playmate in our neighborhood. Our families were always close. His Dad's ribs were amazing and his Mom's popcorn balls she handed out at Halloween were fabulous. No wonder Donnie loved to cook and bake - he had excellent teachers! It was so wonderful to see him, give him a hug and meet Allie at the Knoxville/Gilson Half Hundred Club Reunion in June. Heaven has definitely welcomed home a wonderful man. I send my love, hugs and prayers to his loving family. Jane (Little) Attaway

  • 07/31/2022

    He was a great friend to me Chuck Randall

  • 07/30/2022

    What a wonderful person Dan E was. His sarcasm and sense of humor was unique. He will be missed by all of his friends. Sincerely, Roger Brannan Eack

  • 07/30/2022

    We will miss his witty comments on Facebook that always made us smile. We were blessed to have his friendship.


  • 5 TREES

    The Warda Family planted 5 trees in memory of Donald ("Don" "Donnie") Ray Gardner . - August 08, 2022

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what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

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