Autumn Amelia Gardner, a Brookings native, died suddenly in Portland on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia. She was 24. Autumn was born in Crescent City, Calif., on Oct. 10, 1993, to Angela and Sterling Gardner. She was welcomed into her family by her sisters Erin and Hailee and brother Jess. As a child, she was known for her independent spirit, determination and strong will. She loved spending summers up the Chetco River. As she grew older, she was known for her curiosity about all things scientific, but especially the plants and marine life of Oregon.

Throughout her exceptional career as a student, she was known for impressing faculty and gathering high-level awards all along the way. She was valedictorian of the Brookings-Harbor class of 2012. While in high school she played an active role in her leadership class, was in various clubs and sports, and took pride in having school spirit. She was proud to be part of the sixth generation to be raised in Brookings, while her native Tolowa ancestry extended her connection to this land even further. She graduated from the University of Oregon in the summer of 2017 with a double major in Environmental Science and Biology. She particularly enjoyed studying at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and concluded her degrees by traveling the state of Oregon with an advanced group of students performing field studies of Oregon wildlife.

Autumn would introduce herself in class by saying, “I’m Autumn and I like nature.” She was a unique individual who left a mark on every person she ever interacted with. She loved being a student, learning and sharing information. After graduation, Autumn moved to Portland to start a new chapter of her life. The last part of her life was spent doing the things she loved: backpacking, camping, gardening, preserving food, reading, hiking, researching, writing, making art, cooking, and drinking coffee. She was happily in love and had bought a bus with her sweetie. This is from her Facebook About Me section: “My name might be Autumn, but I’ve been told I’m a woman for all seasons. I’m half mermaid, on my mother’s side, so a quarter fish. I don’t only stop to smell the roses, I greet the bees as well. What’s your favorite type of tree?” Her mother thinks this defines her perfectly. Autumn will always be remembered as a free and independent spirit. She touched many lives in her short time here on Earth.

Autumn lives on in the hearts of a large and loving family: Angela Gardner; Sterling and Dorothy Gardner; Erin and Stephen Colvin; Hailee, Brett, Hudson and Bodhi Weideman; Jess Gardner; Sarah Boles; Laura and Lee Gardner; Jerry and Nellie Fox; Helen and Fletcher Gardner; Tom and Vicky Munyon; Jim and Susan Munyon; Tim and Viola Munyon; Eddie and Heidi Trivett; Tara Stephenson; and her sweetie, Sean Waterman. She was preceded in death by grandparents Rose and Stub Steineke, and Jed Munyon and Jim Trivett.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Howonquet Hall in Smith River, Calif. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Autumn Amelia Gardner Memorial Scholarship Fund through the Brookings Harbor Scholarship Foundation ( donations payable to BHSF, PO Box 7673, Brookings, OR 97415.