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Published: Sunday, 12/14/2008

Educator felt he owed kids his best

LUCKEY - Dallas E. Gardner, 82, a superintendent for most of his 40-year career in education, the last 21 years of which he was head of Wood County schools, died Friday in Woodhaven Health Care, Bowling Green, where he'd been about a week.

He had a stroke in early October and had been in various health-care facilities since, his son state Rep. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) said.

Mr. Gardner retired as Wood County superintendent in 1991.

Craig Goddard, retired superintendent of the Lake Local Schools who became a close friend, said Mr. Gardner made sure districts had access to such ancillary programs as school psychologists and curriculum programs they couldn't afford on their own.

"He did amazing things for the Wood County schools," Mr. Goddard said. "He was just a great educator and tried to do everything he could for the school districts and the kids. That was Dal's greatest asset."

Mr. Gardner's son, himself a former teacher, said: "He believed you owed children your best. He was driven to accomplish things and expected a lot of people and gave a lot of himself."

Mr. Gardner was the first president of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and a past president of the Ohio County Superintendents Association. He was named by then-Gov. James A. Rhodes to service on an 11-member advisory council on special education.

He was a member of the Wood County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and, in retirement, was on the Owens Community College board.

He was present at the founding of the Eastwood Local Schools in 1958, when he became superintendent of the district created by the consolidation of the Pemberville, Luckey, Webster, and Dowling districts.

"He helped name the school and the mascot, and if the school district had a founder, it was him," his son said.

After leaving that post, he was football stadium announcer for the Eastwood Eagles until the end of the 2005 season.

His first position was as a teacher, coach, and bus driver for Whetstone Schools - now the Colonel Crawford district - in Crawford County. His second year, at age 24, he was named superintendent.

Born in Nappanee, Ind., he was a Navy veteran of World War II and served in the South Pacific. He was a graduate of Ashland University, where he lettered in basketball, tennis, and baseball, and Ohio State University.

He golfed as often as he could, not just at Tanglewood Golf Club in Perrysburg Township, where he was a charter member, but in 47 states, most of the provinces of Canada, and at St. Andrews, Scotland.

Surviving are his wife, Velma Gardner, whom he married July 9, 1949; sons, Mike, Randy, and Gary Gardner; daughters, Pat Gardner, Sandy Karmol, Linda Hammer, and Connie Rutherford; brothers, Richard and Jack Gardner; sister, Diane Russell; 18 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow in the Marsh Funeral Home, Luckey. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Zion United Methodist Church, Luckey, where visitation begins at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the Dallas E. Gardner Scholarship Fund through Eastwood Local Schools or Zion United Methodist Church.



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