Teresa Anne Cunningham Gardner was born on July 17, 1963 to Catherine and Edward Cunningham in Greenbrae, California. She attended St. Anselm's Grammar school and went on to graduate from Marin Catholic High School in 1981. She became an Aggie at the University of California at Davis where she majored in English and graduated in 1985. After college, Teresa fulfilled a life-long dream to attend law school and become an attorney. Always focused and goal-oriented, she completed her three years at USF and passed the California State Bar on the first try.
The law was Teresa's first love. She joined Gaw Van Male (now GVM) and spent the last 20 years as an attorney and Director – practicing in the areas of business, commercial, and real estate litigation, along with employment litigation. She previously served as Litigation Department Chair for GVM. Prior to her time at GVM, Teresa practiced for over ten years at a San Francisco based insurance defense firm.
She was proud to be an attorney and litigator. She worked tirelessly for her clients, enjoyed her pro bono work and being a member of her firm. She was the lawyer-in-residence for all of us – giving her valuable advice and help freely – and not thinking twice about it. Teresa earned many honors and accolades during her legal career, including the North Bay Business Journal's Business Woman of the Year, Legal Aid Napa Valley's Pro Bono Service Award and Outstanding Lawyer in Napa County.
Teresa had many professional and community affiliations, including Richard M. Sangster Inn of Court and serving on the boards of Bay Area Legal Aid, Napa Solano SANE/SART and the Napa Valley Film Festival and in her community of faith at St. Apollinaris Catholic Church. Teresa sewed a tapestry of friends throughout her life. She kept in contact with people through the years from friends beginning at grade school at St. Anselm, Marin Catholic, UC Davis, to USF Law school and beyond.
Teresa's legacy is her family. She was an adoring wife to her husband Mark Gardner whom she wed in 1995. The family grew in 1999 with the birth of Kaitlyn and in 2003 they welcomed Jared. Teresa nurtured Kaitlyn and Jared in their studies and athletic endeavors. She and Mark gave them the example of a strong and loving marriage grounded in their Catholic faith. They provided them with love and confidence, guidance and structure so Kaitlyn and Jared could grow into the people they are becoming. She was their advocate and biggest champion!
In September, only eight months after being diagnosed with ALS, Teresa passed away at home. Teresa is remembered as a friend extraordinaire to her longtime high school friends, Carolan, Eva,Linda and Jill. She is remembered by her law school friends, Joyce, Laura, Dan, and Elizabeth, as a true blessing who touched their lives through her love, kindness and loyalty.
Teresa's family would like to acknowledge and thank the UCSF Palliative Care Team, the UCSF ALS clinic, Hospice by the Bay and her home care team especially Mari, Arlene, Jose and Patti for their exceptional care and support as well as Adele, Jim and Swan who were devoted to Teresa and her family.
Teresa leaves behind her husband of 25 years Mark Gardner, her children Kaitlyn and Jared, her parents Catherine and Ed Cunningham of San Anselmo, CA, her sister Carol (Bernie) Albers of Lake Oswego, OR, Aunt and Uncle Ron and Caroline Foster, cousins Joanne Foster and Peter Foster their children Alicia, Danny, Victor, Nicole and Katerina, brother-in-law Gary (Cindy) Gardner of Salem, OR, nieces and nephews Natalie, Bridget, Bernie and William.
Teresa was laid to rest at Tulocay Cemetery, after a private memorial service at St. Apollinaris Catholic Church.
Donations in the name of Teresa Cunningham Gardner can be made to:
The ALS Foundation, Golden West Chapter
28632 Roadside Drive, #173
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
SANE/SART of Napa,Solano
1141 Pear Tree Lane
Napa, CA 94558
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