By Pat Jenkins
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