Cover photo for Nan Gardner's Obituary
1952 Nan 2023

Nan Gardner

May 8, 1952 — March 14, 2023

Madison / Cross Plains

Nan Marie Gardner, born May 8, 1952 in Meridian Mississippi to William “Bud” Gardner and Bobbie (McLaurin) Gardner, passed into the fullness of Holy embrace on March 14th, 2023.  Nan began her journey with a doting extended family in Mississippi where she formed cherished childhood memories. She moved with her immediate family to Madison during her early teen years and graduated from James Madison Memorial High School.

Nan’s life was centered amongst circles of many friends, from many paths.  Her professional paths were varied as well, beginning in early days studying at Grinnell College, and health care work at the University of Wisconsin Hospital.  She later earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Edgewood College, moving on to teaching, and counseling in several forms.  She served several years as adjunct faculty member at Edgewood College in Madison, and brought her best skills and enthusiasm to counseling roles as Managing Director and clinical coordinator at the Family Center in Madison, Military Family Life Consultant for the Wisconsin National Guard service members in Madison, Program Manager and group facilitator at Gilda’s Club Madison, and Clinical counselor at SSM St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo.  She retired in 2019.

Nan’s true enjoyment was in connecting with others, and creating friendships.  She was a curious and sharp mind, an avid reader, lover of mysteries, and great fiction of all kinds.  She was a lifelong Wizard of Oz devotee.  She was keeper of her own family’s histories and lore.  A true crow spirit, she had a penchant for all things sparkling, shining, and shelled – especially if they were shoes.  She competed fiercely in shelling the beaches of her beloved Sanibel Island with her sister Becky.  She loved her cats, good music, laughter, sweet tea, coconut shrimp, chess pie, and she loved celebrating events and holidays with family and friends.  Her favorite - we all know, was All Hallows Eve, when her creativity, imagination, and love of spooks played most freely.  There is reason to wonder if now she might just be tempted to do her own “haunting”.  Nan, we trust your better angels will prevail!  Anyone visiting Sanibel however, will surely feel you there, where you were always at ease with the ocean and the sunsets. Click your heels and you’re there.  We love you always Nan, from this life to the next.  As your circles continue to widen ever more, may your joy be complete, and unending. And may we find one another, to laugh again, in the sweetness beyond.

Nan was preceded in transition by her parents, Bud and Bobbie.  She is survived by her brother Steve (Kathy) Gardner of Madison, and sister Becky Gardner of Madison, her furry babies Flint and Jubilate, extended family sprinkled throughout the south, and countless long-time (and no-doubt some new) friends.

Tributes in Nan’s memory are welcomed at CROW ( Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel Island. A celebration of Nan’s life will be held in early May.

Please share your memories at

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nan Gardner, please visit our flower store.


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