Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words when a person passes away far too soon, especially when that person has made such an impact on his community and the people in it. Terry Gardner was more than a mayor. In a sense, he was Minden.
In the 44 years he lived here he made a lasting mark. His business ventures, which began in earnest in 1983 with TG Companies, expanded until he headed a myriad of enterprises that ranged from lawn care and landscaping to real estate.
Those ventures focused on making things fresh and attractive now, and for the future. He pumped new life into old things. He looked beyond the surface and saw what things could be. He brought that same philosophy to the mayor’s chair a too-short three years ago.
But, as we have learned, TG was a major part of the life of Minden before he became head of the city’s government. His list of civic involvement and achievements is lengthy. When a worthy cause or organization needed a helping hand, TG volunteered his service. Service. That was more than a word to him.
We won’t list everything of which he was an integral part. That would require more than 50 mentions. Suffice it to say that his achievements were rewarded when he was named in 2013 as Minden’s Man of the Year. It’s an honor he cherished, but in typical TG fashion, it was not one he set out to achieve. He was just doing the right things as he saw the needs. He sought the satisfaction of service, not accolades.
Many TG accomplishments did not involve organizations or events that would receive public attention. They were some of his most satisfying moments. Through his companies, he gave countless young persons opportunities to grow and mature regardless of their past. His vision for young people, and his efforts to help them improve themselves, will be a part of his legacy.
A personal note in his bio noted, “He never hesitates to help his fellow man, no matter what the circumstances. He believes everyone has a place in life and he does anything he can to guide them in the right direction.” And he did it without fanfare; without publicity; without seeking approval from others.
There’s more we could say, but a good man has left us and in doing so, has left a void that will remain unfilled. Our comfort should be the sure knowledge that Terry Gardner now is embraced by a Peace that defies Earthly understanding.
TG may be gone, but he left us a foundation; a building block for the future. Hopefully, those who follow him will also be builders and not a wrecking crew.
Here’s hoping our officials will step up and continue TG’s vision for Minden. It will require selfless servants, willing to look beyond the confines of ego and a thirst for power. Minden needs people who envision a city where each citizen is critical to progress.
Hostility and shortsightedness aren’t qualities of leaders, but are traits our city council seems to have developed. Now, with an opening in the mayor’s office, we need to see some attitude adjustments. Those could come this Fall at election time, or we could continue to travel in a rut of our own doing. And as a wise man once said, a rut is only a grave with both ends open.