February 12, 1951 – July 6, 2023
Born in Denver, CO, to Doris McKey and Robert Webb Vinnedge Jr., Gardiner spent his early years in both North Bend and in the Good News Bay Company mining camp in Alaska. Although he spent some years elsewhere, he considered North Bend home, where his great grandparents, Louisa and William Gardiner, homesteaded in 1883 before North Bend and Snoqualmie had been platted.
After Gardiner attended North Bend Elementary, he graduated from Lakeside, received a history degree from Colorado College, and his MA in modern American and medieval history from UC Santa Barbara. In 1974 he began his career at Catlin Gabel in Portland, then he moved to Seattle to teach at The Bush School, where he stayed until he retired in 2017.
First and foremost a teacher, Gardiner taught a variety of classes, all of which combined his depth of knowledge and his tremendous ability to tell a story. He made history come alive for his students as he coaxed them to grow as critical thinkers, writers, and speakers. In addition to his formal classes, he organized students to collect signatures for Initiative 99 and to testify in Olympia which helped create a Presidential primary for the State of Washington. He supervised students as they worked for various political campaigns. He brought students to the Snoqualmie Valley where they studied the flora and fauna of the Meadowbrook Farm, developed maps, and created lessons which were used by our local elementary school field trips.
In 1990 Gardiner moved back to North Bend so that his daughter, Margie, would be the fourth generation of his family to attend North Bend Elementary School. Over the years his volunteer work reflected his dedication to the preservation of the Valley’s history and its resources. He was involved in numerous groups, including the Snoqualmie Valley Centennial Committee, the North Bend Advisory Committee on Governance, and the North Bend Landmarks Committee. Part of a small group who advocated for and created the Metropolitan Parks District to take over the operations of King County’s Si View Park, he was elected Parks Commissioner for several terms. Gardiner co-chaired the North Bend bond issue purchase of Tollgate Farm to preserve it as open space and served on the Meadowbrook Farm Preservation Association. In 2013 he was named North Bend’s Citizen of the Year.
Shortly after returning to North Bend, Gardiner joined the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum Board, serving as treasurer and president. He pulled together writers and launched the SVHM Magazine. He clocked many hours meeting people at the museum booth during Fall City Days, Snoqualmie Railroad Days, and the Festival at Mt. Si. Among Gardiner’s favorite activities was acting as a docent for the SVHM, where he continued his love of teaching by sharing stories about the Valley, researching its history, and finding something of interest for all visitors.
During his retirement, Gardiner spent time in his garden, clearing brush, mowing, weeding, and trying to reason with the deer and elk about eating his plants. He continued his love of research by digging into the histories of people and places connected to the Valley and of his own ancestors. His projects included diving into old “Snoqualmie Valley Record” newspapers and word-processing his grandfather RW Vinnedge’s letters and records for the North Bend Timber Company.
Gardiner is preceded in death by his father Bob Vinnedge and his sister Janet. He is survived by his wife of 42 years Janice Osaka, daughter Margie Vinnedge (Brandon Willhight), mother Doris Vinnedge, brother Rob Vinnedge, and cousin/sister Victoria Bettes (Ward).
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum (PO Box 179, North Bend, WA 98045)