Mr. William “Bill” Meeks Gardner

Mr. William “Bill” Meeks Gardner, 85, of Locust Grove, passed away Sept. 19, 2010. Mr.
Gardner was born in Locust Grove, the son of the late John Robert and Elizabeth Meeks
Gardner. He was also preceded in death by a brother, James Robert Gardner. He served
his country in the U.S. Army in India. Mr. Gardner worked as a branch manager for Equifax,
retiring in Birmingham, Ala., after 31 years. He worked as a manager for Smead MFG., in
Locust Grove for 2 years, and owned and operated Gardner Office Supply in McDonough
for 10 years. He had his peach farm for 26 years. He was the first chairman of the Henry
County Board of Commissioners elected county-wide. He was a charter member of the
Henry County Rotary Club and was a member of the Kiwanis Club in Birmingham. He was
a previous member and deacon of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, and a
member and deacon of the First Baptist Church of Locust Grove. Survivors are his wife of
63 years, Hazel Hammock Gardner, of Locust Grove; children, Charles William Gardner
(Susan), of Birmingham, and John Randolph “Randy” Gardner (Shelly), of Locust Grove;
grandchildren, William Andrew Gardner, Mary Margaret Chapman, Benjamin Ross
Gardner, Russell Gray Gardner, Joel Hammock Gardner and Lorena Michelle Gardner; 6
great-grandchildren, and several nephews. The family will received friends at the funeral
home on Monday, Sept. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. Funeral services for Mr. Gardner will be
TODAY (Tuesday, Sept. 21), at 11a.m., in the chapel of Haisten Funeral Home, with Rev.
Craig Bowers and Rev. Ken Haag officiating. Interment will follow in the Locust Grove
Cemetery. For those who wish, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First
Baptist Church of Locust Grove Building Fund, 2950 Tanger Blvd., Extension, Locust
Grove, Ga., 30248, or Sacred Journey Hospice, 138 Peach Dr., McDonough, Ga. 30253.
Haisten Funeral Home in McDonough, (770) 914-8833, haistenfunerals.com.
By Valerie Baldowski
vbaldowski@henryherald.com
A former Henry County Commission Chairman, and businessman, has passed away with
his wife by his side.
“Bill” Meeks Gardner died Sunday of emphysema at age 85.
Gardner was the first chairman of the Henry County Board of Commissioners elected
countywide. He served from January 1993, through December 1996.
His funeral will be today, from 11 a.m., to 11:45 a.m., at Haisten Funerals and Cremation,
1745 Zack Hinton Parkway South, McDonough. Interment will follow from 12:30 p.m., to 12:
45 p.m., at the Locust Grove Cemetery, on Ga. Highway 42 South.
Gardner was born in Locust Grove, the son of the late John Robert and Elizabeth Meeks
Gardner. He was preceded in death by his brother, James Robert Gardner.
William Gardner’s wife of 63 years, Hazel Hammock Gardner, was visiting her husband at
Sacred Journey Hospice at the time of his death, said the couples’ son, Charles William
Gardner.
“At the end, when my mother said good morning, kissed him, and stroked his head, he
turned his head towards her and took his last breath,” said Charles Gardner.
Hazel Gardner said she met her husband, at First Baptist Church of Locust Grove, after he
completed his military service, in December 1945. He was a veteran who served in the
United States Army, in India.
“I grew up in Locust Grove, and Bill’s parents lived in Locust Grove,” she said. “After he
came out of the service in 1942, that’s [when] we met.”
Some of Hazel Gardner’s memories of her late husband were the trips they took. They
traveled together, and visited Europe in the early 1990s. The couple also traveled to
Canada, and through Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, and California, she said.
“He was a kind and gentle husband,” added Hazel Gardner. “We enjoyed our time
together.”
Charles Gardner said he likened his father to Ward Cleaver, the father in the 1950s
television show “Leave It To Beaver.”
“He was a good, hard-working dad. He was always supportive of our activities,” said
Charles Gardner. “He was a model dad you wish you had. He was a good example for my
brother and I.”
William Gardner worked as a businessman for more than 30 years. He owned and
operated Gardner Office Supply in McDonough for 10 years, and operated a peach farm
for 26 years.
The former county commission chairman had been ill for some time, and eventually the
family arranged for in-home hospice care, said Charles Gardner.
William Gardner’s military and business background had a strong influence on how he
related to others, his son continued. “When hospice workers came in, they took orders
from him,” said Charles Gardner.
When William Gardner was finally moved out of his home and into a hospice facility on
Friday, his health was failing, said his son. “He was very compliant, and then he started
declining,” Charles Gardner continued.
District I Henry County Commissioner Warren Holder, who has known William Gardner
since the early 1980s, said the former commission chairman had his own opinions.
“He was always very strong-willed, and strong-minded. He didn’t care if you agreed with
him or not,” said Holder. “I respected that. I didn’t agree with everything, but at least I knew
where I stood with him. I considered him a friend.”
William Gardner worked as a branch manager for Equifax, retiring in Birmingham, Ala.,
after 31 years. Gardner worked as a manager for Smead Manufacturing Co., in Locust
Grove for two years.
Gardner was a charter member of the Henry County Rotary Club, and a member of the
Kiwanis Club in Birmingham, Ala. He also served on the board of directors of the Henry
County Chamber of Commerce.
He was a previous member, and deacon, of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in
Birmingham, and a member and deacon of the First Baptist Church of Locust Grove.
Other survivors include; son, John Randolph “Randy” Gardner (Shelly) of Locust Grove;
grandchildren, William Andrew Gardner, Mary Margaret Chapman, Benjamin Ross
Gardner, Russell Gray Gardner, Joel Hammock Gardner, and Lorena Michelle Gardner;
six great grandchildren, and several nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First Baptist Church of Locust Grove
Building Fund, 2950 Tanger Blvd. Extension, Locust Grove, 30248, or Sacred Journey
Hospice, 138 Peach Drive, McDonough, 30253.
The Passing of Another Henry County Legend

After hearing of the passing of Mr. Bill Gardner, 85, of Locust Grove it brought back
memories of years past.  I remember one year helping to pick peaches for Mr. Gardner to
send to the cannery.  I also remember him owning the office supply store in McDonough.  
But it was the fact that he was the first county wide elected chairman of the board of
commissioners that a lot of folks will remember. The Gardner family & Elkins families have
produced some very good folks over the years.
The Gardner & Elkins families became related through marriages.  Paul and Mark Gardner
went off to some fine military careers.  Dan Elkins was a good friend of my dad's and they
worked together at McLean Trucking Company for a long time.
Mr. Elkins ended up at the home office in Winston-Salem, N.C. before the company closed.
 But Mr. Bill Gardner paved the way for the future chairmanships of the board of
commissioners.  He was a man with a gruff exterior but a heart of gold inside.  He will truly
be missed.

Dr. Mike Moon