Ellen called me on my cell to break the news that her father had just
died. His last words were uttered to his grandsons as he asked them to
help their mother walk to the car as he began to fade.
Right now, there's not a lot I can say to make me feel better, but
maybe just writing about it will help me express my emotions.
Jim Gardner. He just died.
What else can we say, because former Mayor James Creswell Gardner just
Jim Gardner is synonymous with goodness, kindness and light. Some
time ago, a news columnist referred to him as just a very good person
who still believed in family and in Christmas.
Always putting others first – never thinking of himself, the perfect
gentleman, courteous and kind, descending from a long line of gifted
statesmen – Jim Gardner is his name.
I met Mr. Gardner in March of 1987, after having read his wonderful
Reader's Digest article entitled "Three Lessons for Living."
After meeting, we became very good friends. He became my mentor.
I am still in shock even though I knew that his condition was critical.
There are few people who have touched so many.
He was not one to think of himself; he always put others first. That
was how he was made.
There's no way to make a comparison, but I would like to quote
Luciano de Crescenzo, who said, "We are each of us angels with only
one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another."
Mr. Gardner embraced others easily.
Mr. Gardner shared his thoughts.
He shared his time.
He imparted his wisdom
He often critiqued my writing.
He was known for not passing judgment on people if they shared their
inner thoughts that might differ with his own.
He encouraged me in my writing career and helped me become all that I
could be! He expressed his pride in my accomplishments as though I
were his own child.
And in turn I was blessed with the gift of helping him write and
publish his memoirs, which were published in 2004 and 2006 through
Mr. Gardner lives on through his family, spanning back to the first
two governors of Alabama. His fifth removed great grandfather, Thomas
Bibb, became the second governor of Alabama – succeeding his brother,
Governor William Wyatt Bibb, who had passed away.
Mr. Gardner lives on through his thoughtful family who have used the
parenting skills they learned at home and so his legacy through his
children, grandchildren and down to the numerous great grand children
by the type of homes they are making for their families.
He lives on through his namesake "Cres" and daughter Ellen, who truly
is her "father's daughter" as each are private people who enjoy their
own thoughts and the rhythm of the day.
But Jim Gardner was not about self pride or bragging on himself. He
seldom mentioned his political connections that go all the way back to
the early 1800s in Alabama.
Being real was what was most important to Mr. Gardner.
Meeting Mr. Gardner was a turning point in my life. Because he not
only did he review my first book of poetry published that same year,
he nurtured creative writing skills that were yet to be born.
I sensed during my first reading of his Reader's Digest article that
I would play a part in helping to get his story told, so it was my
blessing to not only encourage him to write his memoirs but to serve
as his publisher in 2004 and 2006 after he laboriously penned his two
I keep saying, "It will be OK," and I continue to say, "Thank You,
God, for my friends, family and blessings that keep coming to me as I
speak. And thank You most of all for putting Jim Gardner in my life!
In Jesus’ name, amen!"
I know we are going to miss Mr. Gardner for a long time.
He lives on in our hearts and influences those we touch through what
we learned from his too short of walk with us.
Sarah Hudson Pierce
Post Office Box 29182
Shreveport, Louisiana 71149
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