Never Too Late to Live Your Dream


| 1/28/2014 2:23:00 PM


Tags: Retirement, Play Piano, Hobbies, Pat Pape,

It’s never too late to live your dream—at least that’s what I learned from Rex Gardner, a man who lives to create music.

Growing up in the tiny Oklahoma town of Paoli (population 300), Rex only heard the kind of music best described as “country,” “hillbilly” and “foot-stomping.” Then at age 13, he watched “The Liberace Show” for the first time. “I knew I wanted to do that—to play the piano like that,” the 74-year-old retiree recalled.

Rex Gardner

The Gardner family was poor, but Rex’s mother saved up $50 to buy a piano. For three years, Rex religiously took lessons, and by high school graduation he could play Chopin. Next came college and marriage to his wife Edwina. The new couple purchased a Baldwin grand piano, and when they lived in Albuquerque, he spent two years training with Ralph Berkowitz, manager of the city’s symphony.

“We moved seven times, and we moved the piano every time,” Rex recalled. “But I had to make a living.”

Rex spent the majority of his career as a regional financial manager of 25 Veteran’s Administration Hospital facilities in nine states. “My career was very demanding, and I didn’t touch a piano for 35 years,” he said. “But I knew when I retired I would come back to it.”

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