Bits 'n' Pieces: For Vancouver couple, love was in the air

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In time for Valentine’s Day, consider this love story.

In 1991, Shane Gardner told his girlfriend at Central Washington University they were going on a flight with a friend of his who was in flight tech school. What he didn’t say was he planned on flying over a tarp on which he spray-painted the question: “Heidi, will you marry me?”

Gardner hid the ring inside a binocular case and waited for a response from the woman he met in his second-period history class at Mountain View High School his junior year. When she made out the words, her eyes were wide and she had a huge smile on her face, Gardner said. Yes, she said.

Fast-forward to today.

“It’s been 20 years,” Gardner said. “We’re still very happily married.”

In that time they’ve seen Shane serve four years in the Army and rise to the rank of sergeant with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Heidi worked through student teaching, earned a master’s degree at Washington State University Vancouver and secured a position teaching second grade at Harney Elementary School.

The couple have two sons, Kaden, 9 and Elias, 7.

“I live a very blessed life,” Shane said. “It’s because of her commitment to me and my commitment to her that these things work out.”

Shane said he still likes doing things to surprise his wife. When she took a trip to New York in 2010 with friends, he had a former Army buddy deliver flowers to her at dinner.

The two read “A Simple Act of Gratitude” over Christmas break. The book is about the author’s experience writing 365 thank-you notes. The Gardners decided to write notes, too. Heidi already started sending hers, not Shane.

“The first one is going to be to her,” he said.

— Paul Suarez

Local band touring with Third Day

Jeremiah Carlson, 29, doesn’t get nervous in front of crowds, having spent 10 years as a pastor and currently the lead vocalist and songwriter of the Vancouver-based band The Neverclaim. But he admits to feeling the pressure of opening for a band that’s one of his biggest influences, Grammy Award-winning Christian rock band Third Day, on their Northwest tour.

“It’s really surreal since we’ve listened to them since we were kids,” he said.

Five years ago, the band transitioned to being full-time musicians, and taking a chance on striking it big.

“I don’t like living with regrets,” said Carlson. “Though the chances were slim to none that we’d make it, but if we never tried. … It’s been working out really well.”

The Neverclaim consists of Carlson, who also plays guitar, Vancouver residents Chuck Hill on bass and Matt Ramsey on keyboard and guitar, as well as Longview residents Josh Anderson on guitar and Mitchell Maldanado on banjo and guitar. The band is rounded out with Portland resident Jared Key on drums.

“For a band to be independent and to get on a tour like this is pretty unheard of,” Carlson said. “It’s a local agency believing in a local band. It’s really exciting to have that kind of support.”

That local agency is LMG Concerts, based in Vancouver, which asked the band to help support the tour.

The Third Day “Make Your Move Tour” makes a stop in Portland at 7 p.m. May 6 at the Rolling Hills Community Church, 3550 S.E. Borland Road, Portland. Tickets are $20-$40, $80 for VIP through LMG Concerts, 360-696-4558 or http://lmgconcerts.com.

Ashley Swanson

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email us at bits@columbian.com.