James C. Gardner

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James Creswell "Jim" Gardner, Sr.


In office
November 9, 1954 – 1958
Preceded by Clyde Fant
Succeeded by Clyde Fant

State Representative for Caddo Parish
In office
1952–1954
Preceded by Edwin Ford Hunter, Jr.
Succeeded by Frank Fulco

Member of the Shreveport City Council, District B
In office
November 1978 – 1982
Preceded by New position
Succeeded by Dee Peterson

Born June 17, 1924
Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
Died August 27, 2010 (aged 86)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Mary Ella Buchanan Gardner (married 1944-1976, her death)

(2) Mary Ann Welsh Gardner (married 1978-2010, his death)

Children Two from first marriage:

Ellen Gardner Caverlee
(widow of Samuel William Caverlee)[1]
James Gardner, Jr.
Three stepchildrfen from second marriage:
Martha Elizabeth Hannigan
Margaret Welsh Clausen
Amye Wren Wilson

Alma mater Clifton Ellis Byrd High School
(Shreveport)

Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge)

Occupation Power company executive
Religion United Methodist

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Second Lieutenant
Battles/wars Cherbourg, France

Observed Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg, Germany

For the North Carolina Republican politician, see Jim Gardner (North Carolina politician).

James Creswell Gardner, I, known as Jim Gardner (July 17, 1924 – August 27, 2010), was a power company executive best known as the mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, who served a single term from 1954 to 1958. [1]

Sometimes called Shreveport's "First Citizen," Jim Gardner was thirty when he assumed the office of mayor.

In 1959, Gardner joined the administration of Southwestern Electric Power Company, which serves parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. He retired as company vice president in 1987. He penned a two-volume autobiography, entitled Jim Gardner and Shreveport.

Background

Gardner was born in Shreveport to Arvill Pitt "Jack" Gardner and the former Marie Creswell. [1] He is a descendant of Thomas Bibb, the second governor of Alabama, and Pierce Mason Butler, the governor of South Carolina from 1836–1838, who was killed in the Mexican War. In 1944, at the age of twenty, Gardner married childhood sweetheart Mary Ella Buchanan. They had graduated together in 1940 from Clifton Ellis Byrd High School, the first public high school established in Shreveport. [1]

Gardner entered basic training in the United States Army and was admitted to Officer Candidate School as a second lieutenant. His Reserve Officers Training Corps unit was sent from Camp Beauregard near Pineville, Louisiana, to observe the Nazi war crime trials. In June 1946, he was discharged at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and returned to Shreveport, where he spent the remainder of his life. [1]

After the war, Gardner obtained a bachelor's degree in history from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. On December 28, 1976, Mary Ella died of cancer. The couple had two children. In 1978, Gardner married Mary Ann Welsh (1928-2017), [1] a divorcee with three daughters. She was the first art professor at Louisiana State University in Shreveport from the establishment of the institution in 1967 until her marriage to Gardner. [2]

Shreveport Mayor

Gardner saw politics as a means to improve the lives of citizens in the community. He was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1952, when he was 27. He left the legislature after his election as mayor two years later. As a legislator, he worked for passage in the tumultuous 1954 session of right-to-work legislation, which was repealed two years later on the return of Earl Kemp Long to the governorship.

In the Gardner administration, Shreveport took the initial steps toward the development of the Red River waterfront and Interstate 20, launched during the administration of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. There was a large bond program to finance massive overhauls and modernization of the Shreveport water and sewerage systems and streets, substantial urban renewal projects, important annexations, and general civic growth and development.[citation needed]

Though he served only one term as mayor, Gardner is remembered for laying the groundwork for bringing Shreveport into the modern municipal era. Later mayors did not hesitate to call upon Gardner to promote civic issues. He was also designated "Mr. Shreveport". [1]

Over the years, Gardner was called upon for many public duties. In 1965, Governor John J. McKeithen named him the vice-chairman of the newly established Louisiana State Science Foundation, which located funding for promising research endeavors. Gardner moved up to the chairmanship in 1966, when Baton Rouge attorney Theo Cangelosi stepped down after a year because of temporary health problems.[citation needed]

Civic leadership

At the time of his death, Gardner was a member of the Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Shreveport. An active Methodist layman, he taught Sunday school for thirty-five years. [1]

Gardner was a member of the large Shreveport Rotary International and the Shreveport Committee of One Hundred, a civic improvement group. His civic awards included Young Man of the Year (1954), "Mr. Shreveport" (Optimist Club, 1979), Shreveport Bar Association Liberty Bell Award, Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year, Community Council Paul M. Brown Humanitarian Award, and the Brotherhood Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. [1]

Commemoration

On May 30, 2008, the Shreveport police headquarters, the former City Hall and the former Confederate Memorial Medical Center (or Charity Hospital) buildings, was renamed the James C. Gardner Building. In the dedication ceremonies, Cedric Glover, the city first African-American mayor who previously and since has been a state representative, hailed Gardner's "wisdom, vision, dedication, and commitment to the city. We have roads that go north and south and east and west and loops that go around." Glover said that the highway system is the fruition of the city master plan which Gardner developed a half century earlier that has made possible the major highways of the area, including the Clyde Fant Parkway, named for former Mayor Clyde Fant, Interstate 20, and Interstate Loop 220.[3]

As a state legislator from 1952 to 1954, Gardner authored the bill which shifted the Charity Hospital building from state to municipal control. As mayor, he pushed for a bond election for new construction on the site. Gardner also served on the board for Charity Hospital, as had his grandfather, James Creswell, two generations earlier. The impetus to rename the building after Gardner was pushed by the late state Representative Forrest Dunn, formerly curator of the Louisiana State Exhibit Building Museum in Shreveport. [3]

Death

For years, Gardner fought heart disease. He had bypass surgery in 1978 and again in 2006. He wrote his memoirs while recovering from surgery. Gardner died of cancer at the age of eighty-six at Willis- Knighton Pierremont Medical Center in Shreveport. He was interred beside Mary Ella at Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport. [1]

An only child, Gardner was survived by his second wife, Mary Ann Gardner, who lived until 2017; a daughter, Edna Gardner Cavarlee, and a son, James Gardner, Jr. (1950-2013), a Shreveport oilman, both from the first marriage, and three stepdaughters from the second marriage. [4]

References

1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 James C. Gardner obituary, The Shreveport Times, August 29, 2010.

2. "Mary Gardner obituary," The Shreveport Times, January 13, 2017. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/shreveporttimes/obituary.aspx?n=mary-gardner&pid=183580189#sthash.uPHgUz3d.dpuf. Retrieved January 17, 2017.

3.0 3.1 Adam Kealoha Causey, "Police headquarters renamed Gardner Building," The Shreveport Times, May 31, 2008 [1], no longer on-line.

4.0 James Gardner, Jr. obituary, The Shreveport Times [2], accessed March 3, 2023.


Other links:

James C. Gardner, "From ROTC Cadet to Active Duty," North Louisiana History, Vol. 27, Nos. 2-3 (Spring-Summer 1996), pp. 110–112.

Kirol Barbour, "Slum Clearance in Shreveport," North Louisiana History, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Spring 1979), pp. 1–6.

"LSUHSC-St. Jude partnership means world to families with children," The Shreveport Times, May 31, 2006.
  1. Samuel William Caverlee (1945-2021) obituary. The Shreveport Times (September 30, 2021). Retrieved on October 1, 2021.