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Cancer Claims Rev. Dina Gardner

Novato probably knew her best as one of the organizers behind Novato Human Needs' outreach programs, including the Holiday Share event that is wrapping up this week.

The Rev. Dina Gardner, a Presbyterian minister who worked the past five years with the Novato Human Needs Center and helped direct its annual Holiday Share program that brightens the holiday season for needy families, died Friday after a battle with cancer. She was 41.

The announcement was made Sunday by Novato Human Needs executive director Deanna Euritt.

"She fought a brave battle for many months with a rare form of cancer, but finally passed peacefully surrounded by her loving husband, family, and close friends," Euritt said.

Gardner, a San Rafael resident who grew up in Davis, went on medical leave from her job in June and had been working part-time since she was diagnosed with cancer, Euritt said.

The center's Holiday Share program allows economically challenged families to choose gifts for their family members. The program, based at a previously empty storefront at the Novato Fair Shopping Center, wraps up its campaign Dec. 14.

"She did a wonderful job with that for several years and just made those the most efficient ones we've ever had," Euritt said. "She always added some really nice touches that made it a very pleasant event for everyone involved."

Regina Bianucci Rus, a Human Needs board member, said she worked with Gardner for many years on the Holiday Share program.

"I have been so impressed with Dina and her ability to motivate people to do the right thing — helping people less fortunate or who are experiencing financial crisis, who just need a friendly hand and a smile to lift themselves up," she said. "She was very important to the Novato Human Needs Center and also to the community at large with her ministry. She will be so missed." 

According to her website, Gardner held a Master of Divinity degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo as well as a diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. She also completed the Master of Intuition Medicine program at the Academy of Intuition Medicine in Sausalito.

Gardner served as adjunct faculty member and taught social and administrative ethics at  the University of San Francisco. In addition, she was a certified yoga instructor, trained spiritual director, intuitive energy practitioner, pre-marital counselor, spiritual life coach, conflict management expert and violence prevention expert. 

She officiated weddings for more than a decade and led many spiritual retreats.

"All of us at the center felt she was a true angel walking this Earth and adored and appreciated her bright spirit, loving manner, sweet sensibility and meticulous devotion to her work," Euritt said. "She made everything better for everyone in all that she touched, and we were always the better for it. I thank all of you who supported her in so many ways. Her light may have left this earth, but she will always remain as a shining star in our hearts. "

According to the Davis Enterprise Record, Gardner was the daughter of longtime Davis residents Barbara and Bill Greene, and she graduated from Davis High School in 1990. She was ordained at Davis Community Church in 1999.

Gardner is survived by her husband, Edgar Meza, and many other family members. A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Dec. 27 at Davis Community Church in Davis. 

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diane December 11, 2012 at 12:28 AM
That is so sad....such a young woman. It makes you wonder why bad things do happen to good people. I don't know her, but her picture alone shows a beautiful and kind spirit.
Novato Native December 11, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I couldn't agree more. Her picture is one that that shows both beauty on the outside but also illuminates a glow that only comes with internal beauty and is probably what gave her coworkers that feeling of an "angel walking among us." While her loss at such a young age is difficult to understand I can only imagine she was taken early because she was needed even more somewhere else and those left behind will feel her presence both now and in years to come with the gifts she has left behind and so on... My thoughts and prayers are with her and her friends and family,
Heather Ophir December 11, 2012 at 07:45 PM
This breaks my heart. Volunteering for Holiday Share has become a tradition for me and my son for the past four years, and part of the pleasure of the event came from reconnecting and working with Dina. She was a positive, generous spirit. Prayers for her family and friends in their time of loss.
Jerry December 12, 2012 at 04:45 AM
She was indeed a person of grace. She was a distant relation -- our niece's sister-in-law -- but her warmth and kind spirit touched just about everyone. She passed away in a university hospital near Washington D.C. where she had gone for further tests. Her brother's email of her last few days tells of her still positive and loving demeanor. Her passing at such a young age, and at this time of year, is indeed very sad. Her family, needless to say, misses her greatly. R.I.P Dina. May God bless.
Beatriz H. Restrepo December 13, 2012 at 01:12 AM
It is sad to hear that news. At the moment I'm in Colombia. She was part of the well known event of San Francisco Carnival few years ago. She was one of the best spirits dancing in the Carnival and not being part of our culture she was great dancing with a beautiful spirit. It is the way I remember her. Great human being. In peace you are.

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