Updated: Jul 31
Karen Diedrich Gardner, 85, passed away peacefully at her home on Chip Ridge Farm in Abingdon, VA on
July 26, 2023.
Karen was an angel on Earth and now rejoins her ranks in a peaceful state in Heaven.
She was born Karen Eda Diedrich on November 27,1935 in Charleston, West Virginia to her late parents George Jacob Diedrich and Rebecca Hite Diedrich. Her family including a sister, Diane Diedrich Myers, moved to Richmond, VA where Karen grew up, later attended Thomas Jefferson High School, and then Westhampton College of the University of Richmond where she obtained B.A. degrees in Psychology and Sociology. It was in Richmond where she met her husband Dr. James Lee Gardner of Abingdon, Virginia. They married on Sept 13, 1957 and have enjoyed 65 years of laughter, love and friendship. She became a dedicated wife, helping Jim through Medical School and a Residency in Orthopedics at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. She had three children and was their omnipotent provider of love patience and compassion, understanding and guidance; Kari, Doug, and Sandy. After completing his Residency, the family moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia for a brief period, before the draw of Abingdon brought them back to Chip Ridge Farm on Whites Mill Rd in Abingdon in 1970. The family has resided on their hilltop farm for 53 years. It was here Karen became a farmer, and developed a love of gardening. She also developed a love for the community and became involved with the Johnston Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the Holston Mountain Artisans, and was a president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. She was a Girl Scout leader, and a Cub Scout den mother. The family has been active members of Abingdon United Methodist Church since the return to Abingdon, and Karen also contributed to Faith in Action. Karen developed a hobby of making beautiful, nostalgic and whimsical Santa Clauses, which she adorned with Christmas wishes and sold and showed them at the Virginia Highlands Festival for many years. Karen did it all on the farm, in her community, but most importantly did the best job of raising her 3 children who voted her Best Mom Ever for 60 consecutive years! They all know they were ultra-blessed to have been her children and are eternally grateful!
She was preceded in death by her mother and father mentioned earlier, and her husband’s parents as well, the late Elmer Lee Gardner and Maxie Scyphers Gardner of Abingdon, Va.
She is survived by her sister Diane Diedrich Myers, and her husband Pat Myers of Hickory, NC; husband Dr. James Lee Gardner; three children, Karen Gardner Hull and husband Bill of Spring Branch, TX; son, Dr. James Douglas Gardner and wife Amy of Winston-Salem, NC; and Sandra Gardner Arrington and
husband Jackson of Lodi, Va. She is also survived by 9 grandchildren, John Fore III and Jackson Fore; Jake, Jordan and James Gardner; Malcolm and Conleigh Byers; Drew and Kelsey Arrington; 6 great-grandchildren, Luke Harrell, Addison Harrell, John Fore IV, Sadie Fore, Chloe Fore, and Jason Gardner.
The family acknowledges the extreme commitment, and dedication of her youngest daughter, Sandy Arrington in caring for Karen Gardner for the last several years, where she had been dependent with poor health. We also wish to acknowledge a team of angelic caretakers to whom we are forever indebted for their love, friendship, compassion, and nursing care extended to Karen and our family for these many years, Becky Dean, Veronica Hinson, Shelia Worley, Summer and Autumn Taylor, Brittany McKenzie, Carol White, and Nicole Smith. The family loves you all!
There will be a celebration of Karen’s life on Saturday August 5th at 2:00 P.M. at Abingdon United Methodist Church, 101 East Main Street in Abingdon, VA with a reception following in the fellowship hall of the same church. Reverend Glenn Patterson of the church will be presiding. Funeral arrangements have been handled by Frost Funeral Home and the family wishes to thank them for their compassion and empathy in preparing for this occasion. The interment will be private to family only at Knollkreg Memorial Park later the same day at 4:30 pm on August 5th.
In lieu of flowers the family ask that donations be made to Abingdon United Methodist Church, 101 East Main Street in Abingdon, VA. 24210.
Frost Funeral Home & Cremation Services is honored to serve the family of Mrs. Gardner.