James Garner’s Daughter Creates Animal Rescue Fund In Late Father’s Name

Veteran actor James Garner passed away in 2014 at the age of 86. Five years after the death of her father, his daughter, Gigi Garner, has found a way to honor his life and legacy in a way which she says would make him proud.

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Garner was famous in the film and acting world, starring in more than 50 films in his career spanning decades. He was the lead in films such as “The Great Escape” in 1963, “The Americanization of Emily” in 1964 and “Murphy’s Romance” in 1985. He, along with Mel Gibson, starred in “Maverick.” He acted alongside Clint Eastwood in “Space Cowboys” in 2000 and also appeared in “The Notebook” in 2004.

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But his family and friends knew him as a man with a soft spot for rescue dogs. Speaking to USA Today, Gigi says her father always seemed to have a special dog by his side. “He rescued dogs and was a huge animal lover. There wasn’t a dog or a baby that my dad did not want to meet,” Gigi told USA Today. She says her father rescued his first dog, Ginger, when he was 11 years old growing up in Oklahoma. He went on to rescue more dogs, naming one “Cherokee,” after his production company, and another one “Nicky”.

In the late 1990s, Garner went to the desert to be alone and try to kick his smoking habit, Gigi recalls. "He's in the middle of nowhere in the desert, opens the camper door and there's this dog," says Gigi. Garner took the dog’s appearance - seemingly out of nowhere - during his nicotine withdrawal as a sign. "He fed and washed him and named him Nicky. And Nicky was a great dog."

Gigi herself has been involved in animal rescue for 30 years and she wants the James Garner Animal Rescue Fund to help animal rescue organizations all over the world. Money raised on the site will help shelters, vets, organizations, individuals and fosters.

"It's for any dog in need. It's important to carry on with the work, and do it in my dad's honor," says Gigi. "I think he'd be proud." She states on the Fund’s website: “Humans have been given the huge responsibility of having dominion over animals, which I believe means that it is our duty as human beings to take care of them,” adding “they are innocent unconditionally loving creatures at our mercy, and there is no excuse for animal abuse.”

She tells USA Today, the final days of her father’s life were hard, he had a stroke and underwent brain surgery in 2008. His three Australian Silky Terriers (Beau, Bret, and Belle) were constant companions, by his bedside, nuzzling him. Garner didn’t want a public funeral or people to make a “fuss over him,” says Gigi. "The way he asked people to remember him was with a smile."

Do you agree that this is an amazing way to keep a loved one's memory alive? To carry on the work they would do if they were still here with us? Tell others about the James Garner Animal Rescue Fund who might agree.