Gov. Jay Inslee, former colleagues and family members listened as the state’s 19th governor was honored on the floor of the Senate.
“Humble, frugal, funny and he always offered hope, but I think the one thing that really stands out with Gov. Gardner was leadership,” said Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina).
Gardner died last weekend at age 76 of complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He served as governor from 1985 to 1993.
“What an incredible legacy he left behind – Running Start, the Basic Health Plan, the Growth Management Act, First Steps and yes, beginning the process of education reform by instituting standards,” said Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle).
Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), who was elected to the Legislature the same year Gardner took office, remembered a leader who reached out across state.
“The biggest thing from my perspective was that he was a governor for the whole state. He was the governor for us rural mice and those who live in the urban area,” he said.
Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish) ended the memorial with a tune on his Scottish smallpipes.
A public memorial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 30, at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. TVW.org will be live webcasting the memorial.
Here’s the official memorial to Gardner:
WHEREAS, Our nation and our state have lost an outstanding public servant, a distinguished leader, and a man
of great warmth and compassion with the passing this week of the 19th governor of Washington, William Booth
WHEREAS, In adhering to the honorable principles that guided him throughout his life, Booth Gardner fashioned an
exemplary record of accomplishment that should serve as an inspiration to us all; and
WHEREAS, His stature as a community leader, governor, and crusader for human dignity will surely grow in the
years to come; and
WHEREAS, William Booth Gardner was born in Tacoma on August 21, 1936, and after high school enrolled at the
University of Washington; and
WHEREAS, While an undergraduate, Booth Gardner coached and tutored underprivileged children at parks and
recreation centers in Seattle, where he said, “I realized I could make a difference in people’s lives,” a lesson he was to
keep with him throughout his career; and
WHEREAS, Booth Gardner earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Washington,
and later a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard University; and
WHEREAS, In 1970, Booth Gardner was elected to the Washington State Senate from Pierce County; and
WHEREAS, After leaving public service to help manage his family’s extensive business interests, he returned in
1981 when he was elected as the first Pierce County executive; and
WHEREAS, He cleaned up a corruption-riddled county government and also set its fiscal house in order, turning a
budget deficit into a surplus; and
WHEREAS, Booth Gardner challenged the incumbent governor in the 1984 election and, running as “Booth Who?”,
won the contest; and
WHEREAS, Booth Gardner served two terms as governor and established an outstanding record in the office; and
WHEREAS, Governor Gardner was a tireless advocate for public education, including early childhood education,
and helped establish the Running Start program for high school students to earn college credits; and
WHEREAS, Governor Gardner was a leader in health reform and successfully advocated for creation of the state
Basic Health Plan; and
WHEREAS, Governor Gardner cherished our state’s natural beauty and moved to protect the waters of Puget Sound
from pollution and our rural areas from uncontrolled development, and he worked to limit contamination from the
Hanford nuclear site; and
WHEREAS, Governor Gardner served as a true champion of civil rights, ordering an end to discrimination on the
basis of sexual preference in state employment and acting to boost the pay of thousands of woman workers in state
government who were victims of salary discrimination; and
WHEREAS, After completing his terms as governor, Booth Gardner served his nation as presidential ambassador to
an international trade organization in Geneva, Switzerland; and
WHEREAS, After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he led the successful 2008 initiative drive for a “Death
with Dignity” assisted-suicide law, even though it would not apply to him; and
WHEREAS, Booth Gardner was frugal in his personal life, but gave generously to charities that aided disadvantaged
youth and alcohol-dependent men and women; and
WHEREAS, He loved the Frisko Freeze in Tacoma and other fast-food outlets, but he was also passionate about
physical fitness; and
WHEREAS, Booth Gardner was known for his sly sense of humor, his gregarious nature, his optimism and idealism,
and an appeal his hometown newspaper described as “cuddly”;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the House of Representatives of the state of Washington, the Senate
concurring, That the life, the work, and the lasting legacy of William Booth Gardner be celebrated; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be immediately transmitted by the Chief Clerk of the
House of Representatives to the family of William Booth Gardner and to the University of Washington.