Community gathers to mourn Gardner’s loss

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Rain poured during the funeral for Minden Mayor Terry L. Gardner Saturday, reflecting the outpouring of love and support shown friends and family during a service of music, laughter and tears.

“The angels are crying today,” said District E Councilwoman and personal friend Pam Bloxom, as she climbed the front steps of First Baptist Church.

Gardner was memorialized and laid to rest in a way that reflected his life and political career.

In the midst of the opening prayer by Rev. Keith Adcock, Gardner’s beloved dog Chairman could be heard mournfully whining beside his master at the front of the sanctuary. The two had been inseparable since Gardner adopted him more than a year ago.

“Everything he (Terry) touched and did brought beauty,” Adcock said.

Former mayor and councilman Joe Cornelius agreed.

“He beautified the whole city,” Cornelius said, prior to the service. “And he did it almost single-handedly.”

Long-time friend and banker Jack Byrd told amusing stories to lighten the somber mood, but the thread was always the same: Gardner loved Minden with a huge heart.

Byrd said there were six words or phrases he used to describe the late mayor: pride, vision, heart, passion, a love of Minden and love of family.

“If Terry touched it, you knew it was going to be done right,” Byrd said. “He took great pride in his work and his clients’ work.”

Byrd also talked about the people Gardner helped … many for whom he guaranteed notes at the bank to ensure they could start a business, as he did when he started TG Companies LLC in 1983.

“His heart was broad,” Byrd said. “As beautiful as the Pearly Gates are, as lush as the gardens are in Heaven, Terry is at work today trying to improve on them, with a big sign beside them: ‘Another Gardner Project.’”

John Guthrie, a classmate of Gardner’s late son, described Gardner as a natural leader who was all about people, building things and solving problems.

“I would follow you anywhere, just to see where you were going,” Guthrie said, as if speaking to Gardner.

The Rev. Leland Crawford of First Baptist Church wrapped up the funeral with words of hope for those who have the faith in Christ of Terry L. Gardner.

Following the service, Gardner was laid to rest near his son, at Forest Park Cemetery West, Shreveport.