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Staff, friends, governors gather for Gov. Booth Gardner’s memorial service

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 30, 2013 at 10:45 am with No Comments »
March 30, 2013 3:33 pm

Obit Gardner
Gov. Booth Gardner

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.:

Gregoire choked back tears and Heck wiped his away as they  remembered their former boss.

“We all knew this day would come, that Booth would find a better place.” Gregoire said. “We just didn’t know how hard it would be.”

It wasn’t all sadness. Between Gregoire, Heck, Gardner’s half brother Bill Clapp and his grandson Jack Nettleton, the crowd learned a lot about Gardner’s quirky side, including these tales of junk food:

  • He didn’t remember his daughter’s home phone number but could rattle off the number to Tacoma hamburger joint Frisko Freeze.
  • He would pick food off other diners’ plates. And once, joining friends at a nice restaurant, he ordered a chocolate sundae for his main course and followed it up with a stuffed baked potato for dessert.
  • Never one to carry a checkbook, the millionaire asked Herb Simon to loan him $12,000 when they were setting up his campaign office. Another time he asked Gregoire to borrow $2.50 to buy Girl Scout cookies from her daughter.
  • He pulled aide Gregoire away on a “secret mission” to get a hamburger in Olympia, then didn’t help her out with his angry security detail when they returned — in fact, he jokingly joined in the finger-wagging. The trooper “says, ‘You can’t take him out without us knowing where you’re going.’ And he said ‘Yeah, that’s right,'” she said.


Friends of the late Gov. Booth Gardner are gathering for his memorial service  at the University of Puget Sound’s Memorial Fieldhouse. TVW, channel 23 in most of Western Washington, will provide live coverage starting at 11 a.m.

The 19th Washington governor died March 15 at his Tacoma home of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

The Rev. David Alger will officiate and Gov. Jay Inslee will present the flags that were flown at half staff on the state Capitol campus in Gardner’s honor. Former Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who both worked for Gardner, will speak, along with family.

Hundreds of people have gathered here, including Gardner’s successor, Mike Lowry, and many people who worked for him, including some state troopers who formed his protection detail.

One retired trooper recalled how Gardner detested being constantly accompanied. Ron Collins remembered having to surreptitiously follow him to a meeting and the governor catching him waiting in the lobby. “He got really mad about it,” Collins said, “then for three days he apologized to me.”

That was Gardner, friends said: Caring about everybody. Former chief of staff Dean Foster said when the governor would talk to the head of the Employment Security Department, he would stop with concern for the official’s secretary. “Every time, he would say, ‘Mary, have you quit smoking yet?'” Foster said.

Gardner’s family wants any memorial contributions to go to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation.

Here’s the program:

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