Robert H. (Bob) Gardiner, 82, of Nobleboro died Feb. 26, 2010, after a brief illness. He was born Oct. 18, 1927, in Skowhegan, the son of Wesley Wellington and Leah (Thompson) Gardiner.

Bob graduated from Skowhegan High School, class of 1945. While in high school, he participated in varsity basketball, football and track. After graduating, he played eight years of semi-professional basketball for the Solon Travelers with his longtime friend Arvard Holt.

Bob started his hardware career in 1942 at Cross Hardware in Skowhegan. In 1955 he moved to the Damariscotta area and purchased the former Lincoln County Hardware, currently the site of Damariscotta Bank & Trust on Main Street. He opened for business as Damariscotta Hardware in the spring of 1955. The business was destroyed by fire in December 1959. Through determination, he expanded and rebuilt the business in 1961 on Upper Main Street, the current location of Day-Nash Building. Over the next 40 years the business expanded multiple times. He served on the board of directors of the New England Hardware Dealers Association for 14 years, serving as president in 1978.

He was a 32nd-degree Mason and a member of the Alna-Anchor Lodge 43/10 and the Kora Temple Shrine. He was awarded the Past Masters Jewel and his 40-year service pins. He was appointed grand steward in the Grand Lodge of Masons in Maine.

In 1996 Bob “unofficially” retired, handing over the day-to-day business operations to his children. In November 2001, the business relocated to its current home, 423 Main St., where he continued to work daily. He enjoyed “everything” hardware. No lamp was too hard to repair, no window pane to difficult to replace. There was almost no hardware question he couldn’t answer or job he wouldn’t tackle. He was well known for wearing his shorts through the winter months and many customers would comment on this.

Bob was predeceased by his brothers, Kenneth Gardiner of McDonough, Ga., and Carmen Gardiner of Skowhegan; and his son, Mark A. Gardiner of Bristol.

Bob is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lorraine (LeClair) Gardiner of Nobleboro and Winter Haven, Fla., son James and wife Gretchen of Nobleboro, daughter Elayn Hilton and husband Robert Jr. of Newcastle, daughter Susan Geyer and husband John of Bristol, son Robert II and wife Roxann, of Damariscotta, nephews Kenneth Gardiner of Warren, Ohio and Daniel Gardiner of McDonough, Georgia, sister-in-law Kate Tretzen and husband Dieter of Idaho Falls, Idaho, nephew Bruce Tretzen of Seattle, Wash., and several great nieces and nephews.

Bob was known as “Grampy” to Luke and Micah Gardiner, Amanda Hilton-Chaisson and husband Dave, Ashley Hilton-Onorato and husband Isaiah, Nicholas Geyer and wife Sarah, Zachary Geyer and companion Lindsay Gutek, Alexandra, Danny and Ryan Gardiner, and Natasha Gardiner. He had recently become “Great Grampy” to Leah Rose and Marcus Robert Onorato.

Bob had a soft spot in his heart for animals, and he leaves behind Lily and Dory, his office companions at the hardware store; as well as Leo, the lap cat at Elayn’s house.

Visiting hours will be held on Saturday, March 6 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church on Academy Hill in Newcastle. A service will follow at 10:30 a.m. with Rick Newell, officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Bob’s name be made to Lincoln Academy’s New Track Field Project, c/o Lincoln Academy Development Office, 81 Academy Hill, Newcastle, ME 04553.

Arrangements are with the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home in Damariscotta, ME. Condolences for the family may be expressed by visiting stronghancock.com.