Daniel George Angelo Gardner, 49, of Rayville, Mo., passed away on Monday, March 13, 2017, at his home.
Daniel was born on April 19, 1967, in Santa Paula, to Suel Gardner and Gladys (Caezza) Gardner, later moving to Missouri in 1973. He married Joyce McClellan of Arlington, Tex., in 1992. They later divorced.
Survivors include: one daughter, Danielle Gardner and her significant other, Justin Farris of Rayville; four brothers, Frank Gardner of Fairfax, Mo., David Collins of Sidney, Ia., Joe Greer of Des Moines, Ia., and Charles Gardner of Indiana; five grandchildren, Houston Farris, Kaelee Church, Phoenix Church, Jake Duncan and Audri Duncan; one step-daughter, Jessica Duncan and her husband, Jacob of Lawson, Mo.; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In addition to his parents, Daniel was preceded in death by two sisters, Tammy Gardner and Della Gardner; and one step-son, Eric Church.
Daniel was Catholic, baptized at St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church, Cal. He later moved to Missouri, where he attended Fairfax High School with the Class of 1986. He worked two jobs he enjoyed while in school at The Walnut Shop and Fairfax M&G. Dan had a born talent for welding, winning State Champ 1986 in Fairfax NWMAVTS. He served in the Navy Reserves as a 2nd Class Petty Officer CE2 Seabee for six years. In 1991 Dan and Joyce were blessed with a daughter, Danielle Gardner. Dan began working in the pasta industry at American Italian Pasta Company. After just 15 years he had already made an impressive mark in his career with his attendance and immaculate mechanical ability. Dan continued his education at the Metropolitan Community College and the University of Central Missouri graduating as a Master Industrial Electrician. He continued to expand his education and knowledge as a mechanic in the pasta industry for many years.
Dan was a talented and creative man. In 2010, he combined his love for knives, leather, and Rambo, and created what he never thought would become a well-respected and successful business. He founded The Missouri Knife Smith and began with his famous railroad spike knife, picture frames, boxes, tomahawks, friction folders, and many projects he made with his creative mind. In 2015, Dan was blessed with the news he was going to be a grandpa, not only that, but to a little boy. In 2016 his heart became even fuller when his grandson Houston Farris came into his life. He was not only an amazing dad to his daughter, but showed Houston that same love and gave him all of his time and heart. His kids were his world and he always made sure we felt protected, loved, filled us with laughter, and pure happiness. He spent his days off in his shop making works of art and his nights with his family, always playing cars with Houston, and asking one of his favorite questions, “What’s for supper?” He loved to watch his favorite show “Forged In Fire” with who he called his son, Justin and he would always comment, “I could make that knife better than that,” and “I would run circles around those guys.” He was hardworking, a beautiful soul, creative, compassionate, and had a heart like no one else. He made something of himself and a legacy. Daniel was and always will be The Missouri Knife Smith, the best dad a kid could ask for, the perfect role model to many, a loving grandfather and a knife legend.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Daniel George Angelo Gardner memorial fund.
Memorial services will be held Friday, March 24, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. at Thurman Funeral Home in Richmond, where military honors will be provided by the Ray County Veterans. Inurnment will be at a later date by the family at the Leavenworth National Cemetery in Leavenworth, Ks. Online condolences may be left at www.thurmanfuneralhome.com.