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Alexander-White-Mullen Funeral Home and Mt Lebanon Cemetery

11101 Saint Charles Rock Road, St. Ann, MO

OBITUARY

Franklin "Red" Delano Garner

January 14, 1933August 7, 2019
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Franklin “Red” Delano Garner, passed away on Wednesday August 7, 2019 at the age of 86. Born one of eight children to John and Lucille Garner. The beloved husband of 51 years to Jean Marie Garner (nee Christiansen). Loving father of Kim LaGrand, Denise (Bob) Shibe and Jeff Wade; loving grandfather of Paul, Murphy, Laura, Stephanie, Lucy, Sarah, Cindy, Christopher, Joshua, Jessica and Jazzy; cherished great grandfather and great-great grandfather. Our dear uncle, cousin and friend.

Red was preceded in death by his son Michael Garner and grandson Ryan Red was a longtime bartender at O’Connells Pub and helped to open one of the first bars in the Gas Light Square. If desired memorials may be made in Franklin’s name to the Humane Society. Funeral service will be on Tuesday Aug. 13th 11:00 AM, at Alexander White Mullen Funeral Home. Visitation will be held on Monday Aug. 12, 2019 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Alexander White Mullen Funeral Home, 11101 St. Charles Rock Rd., St. Ann, MO 63074.

Condolences may be offered at www.alexanderstlouis.com

Services

  • Visitation Monday, August 12, 2019
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Memories

Franklin "Red" Delano Garner

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Rosie Garner

August 11, 2019

Uncle Frank was always so special to me. I only ever got to spend time with him in little snippets when we would go back to St Louis in the summertime. I loved hearing him come down the stairs in the house on Wismer Rd. You knew the conversation was going to get livelier and the laughter louder because Red was there. I felt so honored that he took me to work on a ground crew at the Forest Park Balloon Festival one summer. And beyond blessed when he and Jean gave me a ride in Liberty one perfect June morning, took me soaring over the mighty Missouri up in the air, in their happy place. And then they came to Montana for my wedding and I got to share my special place, Glacier National Park, with them. What treasured memories! I love you Uncle Frankie! I know you are flying with angels now, and we will fly together again some day!

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Biography

As Red was nearing the end of his life, he found comfort in praying the Lord’s Prayer. So for Red, before we begin our celebration and remembrance, let’s pray together “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.
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SONG: Oye Como Va – Santana

A Successful Man by Bessie Anderson Stanley
That man is a success –
who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who leaves the world better than he found it;
who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.
Good morning everyone. My name is Elizabeth Zempel and it’s a privilege to be here today as your celebrant, to honor the life of Franklin Delano Garner, known to all of us as Red, a cherished husband for 51 years to Jean, a loving and generous dad to Mike, Kim, Denise, and Jeff; a devoted grandpa, great-grandpa, and great great grandpa, a dear uncle and cousin, and a friend to so many, it’s almost impossible to count.

Red is the common denominator that brought all of us here today. When someone we love departs this life, it’s hard to wrap our heads around what it will be like to live in a world without him. You hold onto the cherished moments you spent with him, and you wish there could have been more. You laugh through your tears at the jokes and funny moments you shared, the memories and conversations you had that comfort you now, and you are struck with the painful reality that there won’t be any more. So, a service like this gives us all the opportunity to grieve together, to share those stories with one another and to realize that you are all the better for having Red in your lives.



What a life! He crammed a lot of living into his 86 years. He started out in Cape Girardeau Missouri, born January 14 1933 to Cletus and Lucille Garner, the youngest of 8. When he was just 8 years old, the family moved to St. Louis and took up residence on Kensington Avenue. He attended Soldan High School and graduated in 1950. He married his high school sweetheart, and although the marriage was short lived, together they were blessed with two children, Michael and Kim, or Kim Allison as Red always called her.

Right out of high school, Red landed a job at Eastern Airlines as a ramp agent but by the time he made district manager several years later, he decided to give up the suit and tie for the more exciting prospect of this new place called Gaslight Square. In 1960, he and his buddy, Richie Tokatz, opened a bar, “The Dark Side” in the up and coming nightlife district. They painted a huge mural on the outside of the building and never looked back. Red was ahead of his time. He was the youngest of 8 and was musically influenced by his brothers and the big band music of the time. But as the 50’s and 60’s came about and music was changing, Red liked what he was hearing and seeing. From then on and for the rest of his life, he would march to the beat of a different set of bongos.
Over the years in the Gaslight Square scene, he met and hung out with many who would become some of the biggest names in show business; George Carlin, Tommy Smothers, Woody Allen, even Lenny Bruce. When he found out George Carlin didn’t like the hotel he was staying in, Red invited him to stay in his apartment above the bar, and he stayed for five days. When Tommy Smothers needed a quick way out of a party he wanted to leave, he faked a fainting spell and Red carried him out and across the street to another bar. The stories he could tell would have filled a book, but he was just getting started.

SONG: Lady Blue – Leon Russell

A few years down the road in 1963, he landed a job as manager of the famed and fabled Playboy Club. He worked directly under Keith Hefner, Hugh Hefner’s brother, training the iconic Playboy Bunnies and to be more than just waitresses. They were actresses playing a role. He was head bartender, acting general manager, and entertainment director. The Playboy Club also had its share of celebrities that came through; Barbra Streisand was just starting out when she performed there, and Zsa Zsa Gabor made an appearance there, too. Red said she was absolutely gorgeous. But the best person he ever met at the Playboy Club, bigger and better than any starlet or celebrity, was the love of his life, Jeanne Christiansen. Jeannie was a Bunny with beautiful brunette hair and a stunning smile. Red and Jeannie became inseparable and by 1968, they were married, creating their family of six; Red, Mike and Kim, and Jeannie’s two kids, Denise, and Jeff. Red and Jeannie are a love story for the ages. How rare and beautiful, they loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company so much that they never wanted to be apart, working together every day, and going home together every night. We should all be so blessed.

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As Kim grew up, she cherished the time she could spend with her dad. He took her to her school picnics at the Chain of Rocks Amusement Park where they would ride on the Spider, and the double Ferris Wheel, which she hated. But they loved the Round-Up, the ride where you spin in a huge cylinder and it tips you up sideways. A gift from her dad would always come with a card addressed to “Kim Allison” (he loved using her middle name) and the gift would always be wrapped in Red’s signature fashion: taped absolutely shut. Not just a little tape to hold down the corners, no. Literally, tape covered every inch of the package. It was one of Red’s practical jokes, showing his silly side, which he loved to show…… a lot!

Kim remembers as a child, her dad was tasked with cutting her hair on several occasions, and to do this he would need her to stand on a radiator cover at home so they could be eye to eye. Oh, but one time he cut her bangs too short and she was humiliated. She had to go to school like that. She complained, “I look like one of the Catholic school kids!” If you’re of our generation you know what she meant.

But for that one fashion faux pas, he had to be the coolest dad ever! In 1968, when she was 11, Red bought her the 45 of Young Girl by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap. That would have been gift enough, but Red made it even better. He knew the manager at a bar that where Gary Puckett and the Union Gap were going to be performing, so he surprised Kim by taking her to their rehearsal. He brought her the Playboy Club swizzle sticks with the Bunny logo at the top because he knew she liked them, even though sometimes they were snapped in half from being in his back pocket. Also that year, she fondly remembers that he took her to see to the movies to see “Speed” with Steve McQueen The Beatles new animated film, “Yellow Submarine.” Red was a huge Beatles fan, and gravitated to all the new music coming out every year. He never dwelled in the past, and always looked for the next exciting adventure.

Red did a stint at the Stork Club as well, during the swinging 60’s and Jeannie was never far from his side. Around the end of the decade, Gaslight Square’s star was fading. Red worked bartending jobs here and there, and finally landed at O’Connell’s Pub, where he and Jeannie would happily remain for 32 years. It was at O’Connell’s that he found his niche, his home away from home, and the people who would become like family to him and Jeannie.

SONG: Free as a bird –The Beatles

If you’ve ever been to O’Connell’s, it’s like a history lesson with a bar and restaurant attached. Among the hundreds of artifacts displayed, there are old framed photos and news articles on the wall of hot air balloons at the turn of the century. O’Connell’s sponsored a balloon in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race every year. Red and Jeannie were excited to be involved in the chase team and it sparked their passions to become hot air balloon pilots, which they did. They had several occasions to ride in the balloon and were hooked by the experience, to feel at the same time, both the peacefulness and exhilaration of flying in a balloon was the nearest thing to heaven.

There was an article in the paper in 1982 about a college course that was being taught called “Ground School for Hot Air Balloon Pilots.” Red and Jeannie took the course, and eventually bought their own balloon, “Lady Liberty” the first of two they would own in their life. Many of you might remember Jack Carney from KMOX radio, the greatest radio personality this city has ever seen. When Red got his balloon, Carney surprised him with a gift; a beret with a metal balloon pin, the first of many Red would fasten to his beret. The beret became synonymous with Red. He wore it everywhere. He wore it into a Baskin Robbins one evening where he proceeded to thoroughly embarrass Kim by cocking the beret to the side and faking a French accent with the kid behind the counter as he ordered French Vanilla ice cream. Typical Red behavior. Always funny, always joking.


Red was such a creative artistic force. From painting murals, to creatively framing and matting his treasured photos, he could do just about anything. He even played the drums, as well as the bongos, and rumor has it there was a set of drums somewhere that were a gift from Bob Cuban. He could even write calligraphy without ever having taken a lesson.

Red’s life was not without its sorrows. He’s had to witness the passing of everyone one of his siblings. He’s also had to endure the unspeakable loss of his son, Michael in 2003, and his grandson Ryan. But through it all, he remained optimistic, loving his life, loving his wife, tending his beautiful flowers in his garden at home. It was the last day of 2003, December 31, that he served his last beer and bit of wisdom at O’Connell’s. Red was 70 by this time, and he was ready to take life a little easier. He and Jeannie traveled a bit, and spent time with kids and grandkids, watching their family grow.

SONG Back to the Island – Leon Russell

While it wasn’t technically an island, their house in Maryland Heights was their little oasis. It was painful to have to leave but the passage of time makes even the most independent person realize that it might be better to live where help can be quickly available. Red and Jeannie were loved by all at the nursing home. In fact, they were crowned King and Queen at the Prom! Of course they were. All those years of being so sociable and friendly with bar and restaurant patrons, it came naturally to them. He had his favorites there, and gave everyone a little nickname so that he could remember them.

The end came too soon for all of you. When a mind is still sharp but the body is failing, it’s hard to accept the inevitable. Near the end, Red was praying his Lord’s Prayer and remarking that he wanted to see his momma and his grandma again. This is where our faith comes in handy. We should have faith in the words of Jesus when He said, “in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” Take comfort in His word. Red’s dwelling place might be behind a beautiful oak bar, serving up a beer and some conversation with Richie Tokatz and Bobby Darr. Or maybe he’s in a hot air balloon over Paris where his beret would be commonplace. Wherever Heaven is for Red, he’ll be waiting for you.

SONG: What a wonderful world – Willie Nelson