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On any given Denver Broncos game day, Conrad Gardner would drive from Golden to Wheat Ridge to pick up a take-out order from Boston Market.
Typically, the whole family would sit around and eat a chicken dinner and watch the football game, said Ron Gardner, 81, of Arvada, Conrad Gardner’s older brother.
But it was more than just sports that Conrad Gardner enjoyed. He also loved photography and music, among many other things. And he had a passion for law.
“He liked the challenge of it and he liked to help people,” Ron Gardner said. “He cared about people.”
Conrad Gardner was admitted to the California Bar in 1964 and to the Colorado Bar in 1965. In 2015, he was recognized by the Colorado Bar Association for 50 years of service.
“At the time of his passing,” said Conrad Gardner’s son Rick, he “was very possibly the longest serving attorney in Golden’s history.”
Conrad Earl Gardner, 79, died of natural causes on Oct. 29. He is survived by his brother Ron, wife Ingrid and two children Heather and Rick of Golden, and numerous beloved nieces, nephews and relatives.
Conrad Gardner will be remembered for his talent of negotiating, and his thoroughness and integrity, Rick Gardner said. He had an “engaging, humorous and optimistic personality,” Rick Gardner added.
“His legacy (will) live on through the trees he planted,” Rick Gardner said, “the places he built and the landmarks he saved.”
Conrad Gardner was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 16, 1938. He was the youngest of four sons. He grew up in Arkansas City, Kansas, and graduated at the top of his class from Arkansas City High School in 1956. In high school, he played on both sides of the ball in football. He earned a scholarship to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he majored in English. While at Dartmouth, he was a yearbook photographer and a disc jockey on WDCR radio — he anchored the Nightwatch midnight romantic music program. Conrad Gardner paid his way through college by working as a brakeman on the Santa Fe Railroad.
He went on to study law at Stanford University and graduated in 1963.
Conrad Gardner met his wife Ingrid, a Golden music teacher and organist, in the winter of 1965. They were both attending Supper Club, a group for single, young adults that met at the Central Presbyterian Church in Denver.
“We had a big argument the first night we met, but started dating some four months later after a Supper Club outing to Arches National Monument,” Ingrid Gardner wrote in a March 1989 series on wedding vows published by the Golden Transcript.
He proposed in December 1967.
“By that time, we were both living in Golden, and he was working at the Fleming & Pattridge law office here,” Ingrid Gardner wrote. “I had been a member of Faith Lutheran Church and was church organist there since 1962, and I considered Golden to be my home, so I planned to be married here.”
The two married on June 22, 1968.
Conrad Gardner became a partner of Fleming & Pattridge in 1967. That year, he was admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.
In 1985, he began his private legal practice, Conrad E. Gardner P.C., and in 1990, he moved the practice to the historic Quaintance Block.
Brian Boatright, a justice on the Colorado Supreme Court, worked with Conrad Gardner since the mid-1990s, where Boatright said the lawyers was a “long-time fixture out there.”
“He was a gentleman and always pleasant to deal with,” Boatright said. “He was a pro.”
U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson agrees. Jackson was a judge in Jefferson County from 1998 to 2011, and knew of Conrad Gardner because he would occasionally have a case in his courtroom, Jackson said.
Gardner was always professional, courteous and civil, Jackson said. “A good, solid lawyer.”
He became an active advocate of historic preservation, and eventually joined the Golden Landmarks Association. He served as its president from 1995-1998. Conrad Gardner remained engaged with the organization until his recent hospitalization, said Bill Litz, president of the Golden Landmarks Association.
Litz said the association’s board recently voted unanimously to make him one of the city’s “Living Landmarks.” He will be honored at the group’s annual Living Landmarks dinner this May.
“I will remember his quiet, thoughtful demeanor during meetings and wry sense of humor,” Litz said. “Golden has lost an important voice for historical preservation.”
Conrad Gardner served as a member of the Jefferson County Library Board for 19 years, from 1969 to 1988. He helped oversee the establishment and construction of the Villa, Evergreen and Columbine libraries. He was also instrumental in the building exchange for the present home of the Golden Library. It was during this time, in 1994, when Conrad Gardner and Golden resident Tom Atkins became acquainted, Atkins said.
“He was always a strong library supporter,” Atkins said. He added that the two men saw each other at the Columbine Library’s grand reopening and ribbon cutting event on Oct. 21. “Even when not feeling well, he was still there, supporting the library.”
Conrad Gardner was a community advocate, persistent and committed, according to Atkins.
“Those are two very important characteristics of a community advocate,” Atkins said. “He cared about his personal values, and he cared about the community’s values.”
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