Mrs. Lilia "Lee" M. Gardner, a proud immigrant and a woman of faith who saw the hand of God at every turn in her life, died May 19, 2018, at her home in Clemson, S.C. She was 91.
Mrs. Gardner was born on June 30, 1926, in Bogota, Colombia, to Francisco and Isabel Mogollon, the second of four daughters. By age 4 she was reading the newspaper. When her mother was widowed, young Lilia's education was entrusted to Catholic sisters, who encouraged her accelerated studies. She earned a teaching certificate but she was so young, schools were reluctant to hire her. She began bookkeeping for a company that transferred her to the United States, where she met a young sailor and future husband, LeRoy E. Gardner. They had six children together as the family moved among Navy bases from coast to coast. She became a U.S. citizen in San Diego, after being detained at the Mexican border after a family day trip. When the family finally settled in Goose Creek, S.C., Lee turned to a long-deferred vocation: teaching.
She organized a Catholic Parish School of Religion at the Navy base at MenRiv, where she trained scores of teachers and over the years helped prepare hundreds of children for First Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation. She and many of her teachers later transferred their work to the Charleston Air Force Base, and later to the Catholic Community of Goose Creek, which she helped to establish and eventually build.
Surviving are her sisters, Mariella Mogollon de Belalcazar (Randolfo) and Mary Mogollon de Pilonieta (Hernando); her children, Lisa (Ray Cox), Kurt (Darlene), Verna (Jimmy Howell), Pamela (Tom Burke), Beatrice (Sid Jones) and Steve (Elizabeth).
Also surviving are her beloved grandchildren, Maria Gardner Cox; Paige Gardner and Brian Gardner; J.R. Howell (Rebecca), Leigh Gardner Howell and Mary Anna Howell; Gabriela and Briana Gardner-Burke; Jeremiah M. Jones (Jamie); Theo and Kyle Gardner; and great-grandchild Benjamin Orozco.
Mrs. Gardner was preceded in death by her husband, her sister Judith Bernal (Egidio), and grandchildren John Gardner-Burke and Miranda Jones.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 2 p.m., Saturday,
May 26, at St. Andrew Church in Clemson.
Interment will be at a later date in Garden City, S.C. In lieu of flowers, donations to the St. Andrew Catholic Church building fund (Clemson) or favored charity are encouraged.
Condolences may be expressed online at www.robinson
funeralhomes.com or at Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, Central, S.C.
Statesboro Herald, May 23, 2018
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