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From governor and foreign diplomat to superintendent in Eatonville (almost)

9:44 am April 5th, 2013

By Pat Jenkins
The Dispatch
Booth Gardner, the former Washington governor and Pierce County executive who died March 15, came close to having another title: Eatonville School District superintendent.
Gardner was about two years removed from his eight-year stint as governor when he applied in 1995 for the superintendent job. His interest caught the district, its community and the rest of the public by surprise. At the time, he was heading the U.S. delegation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Switzerland.
In news reports, Gardner explained his interest in wanting to make such a dramatic career change. Among other things, he said if he hadn’t entered politics, he would have been a school teacher or coach. During his time as governor, he was known for championing education, including early-childhood learning.
But on a May evening, the Eatonville School Board dashed Gardner’s hope. The board members voted to hire Mark Jacobson, the superintendent of Brewster School District, as their district’s new leader. Gardner and the Eatonville district’s interim superintendent, Dick Prather, were the other finalists.
Gardner, eulogized at a public memorial service March 30

Booth Gardner, seen here in his later years, was a finalist for superintendent of Eatonville School District in 1995. (Courtesy photo)

Booth Gardner, seen here in his later years, was a finalist for superintendent of Eatonville School District in 1995. (Courtesy photo)

at the University of Puget Sound that was attended by about 1,000 people, was Harvard-educated, an heir to the Weyerhaeuser family fortune, the first elected executive in Pierce County’s switch to a home-rule form of government in the 1980s, and a popular two-term governor. He chose not to run for a third term.
He died of complications from Parkinson’s disease. After being diagnosed with the illness after leaving the governor’s office, he became an advocate for a death-with-dignity campaign and was the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary on that topic.
The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation.

2 Responses to From governor and foreign diplomat to superintendent in Eatonville (almost)

  1. Patty Rath Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I always thought that Eatonville made the wrong choice in not hiring Mr. Gardner as our new Superintendent. He was our former governor,a Weyerhauser,knew the right people and where the money was. I felt he could have made our schools one of the best in the nation. I sat in on one of the meetings where we could ask questions and hear from the candidates. I liked the things he said,he was passionate about education,but, in the end they chose another.

  2. agstr Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    It’s too bad partisanship stained Gov Gardner’s candidacy for superintendent. But then again it’s too bad we have partisanship choking liberty and responsible action in government.

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