Melissa Mockensturm Gardner


Melissa "Mel" Gardner, beloved wife, mother, daughter and sister left this world on May 4, 2019, nine months after pancreatic cancer aggressively changed her life trajectory. Born Melissa Mockensturm on July 30, 1962 in Toledo, Ohio, Mel attended several Catholic grade schools until moving with her family to Denver, Colorado in 1979 where she attended Columbine and Evergreen high schools and ultimately graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in molecular and cellular biology. She subsequently worked for several prominent research laboratories at Coors Biotech, Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ where she met the love of her life, David Gardner. Dave and Mel married in February of 1996 and subsequently welcomed two amazing daughters in Olivia and Emily. After two years as a full-time mom, Mel embarked on a new career path; obtaining a master's degree in counseling from Argosy University in Phoenix and began her practice as a Clinical Counselor. A natural counselor, she soon built a robust clinical practice and a national reputation as an expert in EMDR counseling therapy. In 2012, Mel and Dave decided to move back to their midwestern roots when Dave accepted a faculty position at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Indianapolis. Despite having to complete additional academic course work for Indiana certification and develop brand new relationships in this new environment, Mel was soon fully established in another thriving clinical practice. Mel also had the joy of developing some of the greatest friendships of her life after moving to Indiana. Never were Mel's counseling skills more evident than when she counselled us all through her final journey, helping us cope with immense grief, while living out her final days with incredible strength, grace, humor and just enough counseling to keep us all on course.

Mel is survived by her husband, David; daughters, Olivia and Emily; parents, Carl Mockensturm (Geri) and Carol Haas (Fran); sisters, Marylin Genz (Will), Margretta Risi (John), and Michele Topor (Joe); and brothers, Mark Mockensturm (Rob Salem) and Mike Mockensturm; several nieces and nephews; and an amazing group of devoted friends and colleagues across the country.

A memorial service will be held on May 15, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. at ARN Mortuary in Zionsville, Indiana followed by a gathering to celebrate her life at 4:30 p.m. A service will also be held in Toledo, Ohio on May 23rd at 4:00 p.m.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: or to EMDRIA, the EMDR International Association:
Published on May 7, 2019
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4 posts

Ann Elizabeth Wehrmeister
May 31, 2019
I did not know that Mel Gardner had passed away. I mentioned her to someone today and then thought I'd send her a text and make an appointment or follow up with her. I saw her for counselling for awhile which ended last Fall. I never knew she was ill. I just knew she was cutting back on hours. I'm very saddened to hear of her passing. I knew her as my counsellor and I knew of her accomplishments. I hold her in high regard. She just seemed like a wonderful person overall. My condolences.
Emily Freeze
May 10, 2019
I had the great privilege of being a colleague and friend of Mel when she first came to Indiana and completed her coursework at Indiana Wesleyan University in order to become licensed. I had the utmost respect and admiration for her as a counselor, referring many of my clients to her. More importantly, I cared very deeply for her as a friend. I admired her commitment to her family, her friends and her faith. I am very saddened by this loss of such an amazing woman! My deepest condolences to her wonderful family!
Paul, Caryn, Emily, and Olivia Grasso
May 07, 2019
Mel will always be remembered as a wonderful mother, wife, and friend to all. David, Olivia, and Emily, please know that we are always here for you. God Bless...
John MacDonald
May 07, 2019
Dave, Olivia, and Emily,
You are in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless you. Remember, its not goodbye, its till we meet again.