Bethel's First African-American Student Passes Away

June 22, 2011 | 9:05 a.m.

By the Office of Communications and Marketing

LeRoy Gardner's Bethel graduation photo from 1946.

Rev. LeRoy Gardner Sr., the first African-American student to graduate from Bethel University, passed away on June 3 at the age of 86. Gardner is a 1946 alumnus.

Garner founded the North Central Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minn., in 1957 and served as pastor for 40 years. In 1997 he moved to Carmichael, Calif., and founded Evangel Ministries. Gardner was known as a dynamic speaker and author. He was compassionately dedicated to racial tolerance and the need for spiritual, moral, and economic leadership in America and the African-American community.

He is preceded in death by his son LeRoy Gardner Jr. and survived by his wife Kay, daughter Sharon, son Gordon, and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.