Ernest C. Gartner, 89, a retired funeral director in Gaithersburg, died Monday at the Rockville Nursing Home in Rockville, where he had lived for the past 1 1/2 years. He had suffered a series of strokes.

He established the Gartner Funeral Home in 1919 and operated it until his retirement in 1973. It became the Gartner-Sandison Funeral Home about five years ago.

Mr. Gartner was born in Everett, Pa., and moved to Germantown, Md., as a youth. He was a farmer until establishing the funerl home in Gaithersburg. He was a graduate of the Renaurd School of Embalming in New York City.

Active in civic affairs, Mr. Gartner was a charter member and president of the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Fire Department and a charter and board member of the Gaithersburg Lions Club and the Gaithersburg Chamber of Commerce.

He belonged to the Forest Oak Lodge, Knights of Pythias, and was a charter member of the Montgomery Council 2323, Knights of Columbus. He was an active member of St. Martin's Catholic Church in Gaithersburg and of the Washington Country Club.

He is survived by two daughters, Rosabell Sandison, of Gaithersburg, and Eleanor Maloney, of Potomac; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.