Mayor Terry Gardner had deep love of Minden

A Minden City Council meeting with Mayor Terry Gardner (from left), District C Councilman Vincen Bradford, District D Councilman Michael Roy and District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Minden Mayor and businessman Terry L. Gardner died Tuesday morning from complications caused by cancer. He was 68 years old.

After 3 unsuccessful runs at the District D Minden City Council seat, Gardner was elected mayor in 2018 and took office January 1, 2019. Friends and family say he expertly managed significant challenges, including the presentation of a balanced budget. He has been instrumental in moving the city forward, strongly supporting the city’s economic development department.

District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom said Gardner had great insight into the city and what would make it flourish.

“I’ve known Terry for some 25 years,” Bloxom said. “When we both decided to run for election, I was in awe of the visions he had for Minden.”  

Gardner was passionate about maintaining the city’s beauty. This past Spring, he spearheaded a fundraising event to make improvements to Jacqueline Park and raised more money than was needed. He hoped to funnel some if toward lighting the downtown water tower.

Perhaps one of his most passionate projects up to his death, however, was a new animal shelter. In April, the Minden City Council voted in support of using a grant that was required to go toward the shelter by June 30.

Needing another $275,000, Gardner’s goal was to raise enough money to build the shelter – partly because he may always be known as the first mayor to have a “first dog,” Chairman of the Board.

In an interview last year, Gardner said his adoption of Chairman was “meant to be.”

“I now know why I have Chairman,” Gardner said. “My son, Harold is buried in Shreveport. The other day I was close, so I thought we would just go by the cemetery and check on things.”

Chairman, who went a lot of places with the mayor, was along for the ride that day. Apparently, Gardner’s son is buried far from parking in “a maze of headstones.”

“Chairman jumps out and runs right to Harold’s grave and lays down on it,” Gardner said. “And I said to myself, ‘this is why I have him.’ Then when we got back in the car to leave, he gets up against the car window, looking out that way and just whining.”

Chairman and the mayor became a two-man team over the past year, with Chairman accompanying the mayor to city hall almost daily. 

A birthday party for Chairman was held at Academy Park April 24. The main goal was to raise funds for Minden Animal Shelter – $3,000 that day.

Sibley Mayor Jimmy Williams said he was sorry to hear of his fellow mayor’s death.

“He was a good man with a big heart for the city,” Williams said. “I will be in prayer for his wife, Debbie.”

Gardner was known as an outstanding and kindhearted Individual and served as a well-respected role model to many in the community.

Hundreds of Facebook comments memorialized the mayor – many of them saying: “There is no doubt, he loved Minden.”

Gardner is predeceased by his son, Harold Gardner. He is survived by his wife, Debbie, a cat named Cole and, of course, Chairman.

Funeral services are pending.

Terry Gardner’s motto: Everyone deserves a second chance in life, or sometimes 2 or 3.

Gardner shares some goodies with Chairman at a recent function in Minden Police Department.