Yes, Jeffrey Gardner, 36, sold insurance, but nothing about him fit the bland image of an insurance salesman. His title at Marsh & McLennan was environmental insurance broker. After work, he might appear in one of many guises. An opera lover and wine connoisseur who relaxed by smoking one of his many hand-carved pipes. An adventurer on a motorcycle tooling around rough country. A joker who hired an Austin Powers impersonator to corner a friend at a restaurant and sing 'Happy Birthday.' And a man so grateful for his life that he spent his weekends and vacations building homes in Newark, Honduras and Brazil.
'He had so many things going,' said Amy Gardner, his younger sister.
His work for Habitat for Humanity was, perhaps, his favorite. It let him combine many favorite activities: carpentry, making friends with volunteers and children, and seeing the excited expressions of new homeowners. For Mr. Gardner, said his sister, those were great days. More ordinary times, she remembers him saying, were merely good days. He had a sun symbol tattoed on his ankle, she said, because for him, a good day was as bad as it got.