Henry Tom Gardner, age 91, of Mena, Arkansas, passed away October 22, 2013. He was born in Boswell, Oklahoma and grew up in Idabel, Oklahoma the son of Rennie Reynolds Gardner and Henry Gardner.
As a child, he was always busy with kites and model airplanes. After high school, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma to pursue a degree in Aeronautical Engineering while awaiting approval of his application for flight training in the Army Air Corps.
In World War II he was stationed in England where he flew 28 missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the War, he married Nancy Ann Herd of Swink, Oklahoma and went back to the University of Oklahoma where he obtained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and went to work for McDonald Douglas in Long Beach, California.
After 3 years of that phase, his career was cut short by the Korean War. When he returned to the Douglas Space Program, the Cape Canaveral Space Center was getting started and he moved to Florida as a Douglas Representative on the Thor Missile.
He enjoyed being on the cutting edge of space exploration, which included the Moon Shots, Sky Bolt and Sky Lab.
In 1976 he acquired an antique airplane from India and in 1977 decided to take early retirement and restore it. He found the Mena airport to be the perfect place. He built a home and restored 2 antique airplanes in the Mena area.
He enjoyed a long retirement in Mena, including friends he met in the Mena Lions Club, where he served a term as president.
Tom is survived by his wife Nancy Herd Gardner of Mena; 2 sisters Emily Jean Jolley of Newhall, California, and Mozell Alexander and her husband Albert of Ft. Towson, Oklahoma; 2 brothers Reynolds Gardner and wife Catherine of Mena, Arkansas and Walter C. Gardner, Sr. of Nevada, Missouri; and many loving nieces and nephews.
Tom was sent for cremation under the direction of the Beasley-Wood Funeral Home. No services have been scheduled at this time.