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Obituary: Jack Garner

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Jack Garner, 89, died Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009. He was born Feb. 4, 1919 in San Bernardino to Robert F. Garner Jr. and Cosette Steiner Garner. He was the great-grandson of one of the pioneer families of San Bernardino.

Jack attended city schools, then Harvard Military School (now Harvard-Westlake School) in Los Angeles. After four years of ROTC, Jack graduated in 1937 as a 2nd lieutenant. He then attended four years as a business major at the University of Southern California.

During his high school and college years, he played football and polo, and was active in ROTC, pledged SAE Fraternity, drove a cattle truck for the family ranches and learned mechanics at Garner Ford in San Bernardino.

Jack loved fast boats and sailing. His family was a member of Newport Harbor Yacht Club in Balboa. Jack continued to be a member until his death.

During his college years, “B” Western movies were becoming popular. Jack and many of his fraternity brothers at USC would be extras in the movies, riding horses and chasing cattle on the family ranch in Mountain Center.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Jack, Mary Condon (daughter of Tex Condon, commodore of Newport Harbor Yacht Club, 1942-43), and another couple were going out on the jetty in Newport Beach when they were told to return to their homes. Pearl Harbor had been bombed and the U.S. was at war.

Jack reported for duty with the U.S. Army in Oakland. On July 22, 1942, Lt. Jack Garner arrived in the British Isles where he began his three-and-a-half years of duty in the European Theater. WWII took Jack to England, France and North Africa.

Capt. Jack Garner’s father died one month before his return home from the war. Jack aggressively took over all the family enterprises. Garner Ford became the number one truck dealership in the state. At one time, there were as many as three Ford tractor dealerships. Cattle ranching continued to grow for Jack’s family.

In 1948, Jack married Mary Condon. In 1953, their daughter, Meg, was born. Jack, Mary and Meg continued to live in San Bernardino until 1958. In 1958, they moved to the family home on Bay Island in Newport Harbor. Jack commuted every day to Garner Ford in San Bernardino.

He was active in the National Orange Show and community government. Jack was a member of the Arrowhead Country Club. He and his very best friend and confidant, Malcolm Blair (Blair’s Toy Store), would eat lunch and discuss business back at the club.

Jack purchased Martin Aviation, the original aviation firm at Orange County airport, in November 1963. Martin Aviation was managed by pilot and good friend Ted Andrews. In November 1964, Martin Aviation increased sales by 2,000 percent and was awarded number one Piper dealer in the world.

Also in 1963, Jack and Mary purchased three yearlings at the Del Mar Yearling Sale. He hired the first female trainer, bought three more horses and joined the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Jack remained an avid racetrack fan until his death.

On Oct. 6, 1963, Kentucky Gov. Combs appointed Jack Garner to his staff as a Kentucky colonel. This is a lifetime commission.

Jack married Marianne Summer in 1977. Marianne has two children, daughter Shannon and son John. Jack and Marianne resided at Linda Isle, Promontory Point and the last three years at Inn at the Park in Irvine, an assisted living facility.

Jack never severed his family ties with San Bernardino. Even now after his death, his daughter Meg still travels to San Bernardino on behalf of her father.

His final resting place will be at the ranch he loved so dearly.

His wife sends her deepest heartfelt thanks to the 3rd floor doctors and nurses at Hoag Hospital for doting over Jack, and the loving and caring Silverado Hospice. “They were always there for us with open hearts and warm hugs,” she wrote. “Also, Bobbitt Mortuary, who took control with compassion and professionalism.”

Jack is survived by his wife, Marianne; his daughter, Meg, her husband, Ted, and their daughter and his granddaughter, Hannah; Marianne’s daughter, Shannon, and her husband, Gary; and Marianne’s son, John, his wife, Linda, and daughters Lindsey and Elle.

Jack was a member of the American Legion Post 800 of Idyllwild.

Donations in his memory may be made to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times 1954 Cotner Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.bobbittchapel.com.

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