In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Charles Kenneth Gardner, 82

Charles Kenneth Gardner, 1939-2021
IMB Photo

Charles “Chuck” Kenneth Gardner, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Taiwan, died Aug. 25, 2021. He was 82.

Gardner was born Aug. 23, 1939, in Matthews, North Carolina, to the late Edna Mae and William Harris Gardner. He graduated from East Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte, North Carolina; received the Associate of Arts from Wingate (North Carolina) Junior College (now University); received the Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and received the Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina. He also served in the United States Air Force, stationed in Crete, Greece, and in Germany.

Gardner wrote when seeking missionary appointment that he had begun to sense God’s call to ministry shortly after becoming a Christian as a child but didn’t make that decision public until he was serving in Crete. There a military chaplain let him preach his first sermon and guided him as he began to feel a call to missions.

After returning to the U.S., Gardner married Betty Ruth Little. Together they had publicly committed to “go anywhere and do anything God wanted us to,” he wrote. In the next few years, he served as the pastor of Bavarian Baptist Church in Bad Toelz, Germany; as the pastor of Motley Baptist Church in Hurt, Virginia; and as the pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

The Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Gardners in 1974 as missionaries to Taiwan, where they served 27 years. There, Gardner worked as an evangelist and church planter in Hualien, Taipei, Taichung and Hsi Chih.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Betty Ruth Gardner; his children Pamela Joy Reeves and Angela Ruth Hynum (Gregory); siblings Bill Gardner, Bob Gardner, Carl (Buddy) Gardner, Edward (Phil) Gardner and Paul Gardner; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A service was held Aug. 30, 2021, at First Baptist Church of Matthews with burial at Forest Lawn East Cemetery, Matthews.

Donations in his memory may be made to the International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at

Read an obituary here.