Richard Melvin Gardner, Jr., 71, of Menomonie, passed away peacefully at Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire in the early hours of Tuesday, August 6 -- about one week after being diagnosed with cancer. Dick grew up in Orange County, California and attended college at Stanford University, where he met his wife, Linda (Naimy) Gardner. He attended graduate school at the Iowa Writers Workshop and the University of California-Irvine, and spent a year teaching at UW-Superior. Dick taught English at UW-Stout for 36 years, retiring in 2006. Dick and Linda spent time active in the Menomonie Theater Guild. At the time of his death, he served as treasurer and grant writer for Arts Coming Together, Inc. \n \n He had a gentle way with people, believing all to be equally worthy. Gifted with intelligence and a creative, philosophical way of seeing the world, Dick loved simple pleasures like reading, writing, taking walks or drives, observing people and nature, shooting the breeze, trying new foods, and finding humor in life's minor absurdities. Dick could be cautious and pragmatic when necessary, and was sometimes reserved, but he was happiest being spontaneous, gregarious, intuitive, and carefree. It was a gift to be in his presence when his seemingly limitless generosity of spirit burst forth. \n \n Supported by the great strength of his loving marriage and by his sense of humor, Dick triumphed over significant struggles with bipolar disorder to enjoy a happy, successful life. \n \n He is survived by his wife Linda Gardner, his son Benson Gardner and daughter-in-law Veronica Rueckert, two grandchildren, William and Genevieve, brother Phil Gardner, sister Sue Wallen, sisters-in-law Barbara Boltin and Norma Jenner, and their families, including many nieces and nephews. He and Linda considered their "family" to include many friends in Menomonie -- including the survivors Marcia Avery, "niece" Sunanda "Gogi" Chibber, and Darshan Perusek -- as well as Veronica's surviving mother and grandfather, Sandra Rueckert and William Rueckert. \n \n In lieu of flowers, the family asks you make a donation in Richard's honor to a charity of your choice. A celebration of his life is planned for this Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 4:30-6:30 at Skoog's Parkside Restaurant in Menomonie. Attendees will be invited to share a memory of Dick if they choose, or may bring a written-up memory for someone else to read. \n Olson Funeral Home of Menomonie is assisting the family.