Sunday, May 22, 2016

William Marshall Gardner

Florence attorney Marshall Gardner passed away earlier this month. A friend and long-time reader has sent us an addendum to his obituary:

William Marshall Gardner was born August 16, 1951, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. While his early life was spent in Virginia, both his parents had deep roots in Alabama where they moved after Marshall’s father William V. (Bill) Gardner retired. Marshall’s mother Corrine Davis Gardner’s family was from the Elgin Community via Muscle Shoals. Marshall was always extremely fond of his Elgin relatives, and they of him.

After high school graduation, Marshall entered the army and served at Kagnew Station in Ethiopia, now Eritrea. Some of his most vivid military memories were of Kagnew, and he proudly displayed the Kagnew emblem on his Jeep for years.

After leaving the army the first time, Marshall received a degree in political science and education from UNA, being commissioned a Second Lieutenant upon his graduation. For the next 15 years Marshall traveled the world working for the NSA. When his mother once commented on her nephew who was an executive with Reynolds Metals and “flew all over the world,” Marshall replied that he did also, but in his case he drove the plane. Indeed, Marshall flew missions over Iraq during his long military career and later received his commercial pilot’s license.

Upon leaving the active military, Marshall taught for a short period in Florida. An avid baseball fan, he was always extremely proud that two of the young men he taught went on to play professional ball.

Deciding to enter the practice of law, Marshall attended school at Ohio Northern and practiced for a short time in Hawaii before returning home to the Shoals. Arriving too late to take the bar exam in Alabama for that year, he first passed the Tennessee bar and practiced in that state before becoming licensed in Alabama.

As an attorney, Marshall performed his pro bono work for animal welfare. He loved all animals, but especially Boston Terriers and cats, often entertaining others with tales of his ginger girl Rum Tum Tugger who looked like Humphrey Bogart and Tallulah with “half tail at full sail.” While working as an adjunct at UNA, Marshall never missed an opportunity to visit with Leo and Una.

A member of MENSA, he admired intelligence, wit, and style. He greatly championed the First Amendment while espousing a sensible approach to the Second.

An avid student of local history, Marshall was delighted when he had the opportunity to make the former Pine Street home of Charles Wescott Negley his law office. Marshall was also a Civil War Scholar whose knowledge of that conflict and those who wrote of it was probably unsurpassed in the Shoals. His favorite Confederate was Gen. Joe Wheeler, and he always hoped the South would rise again. Marshall was a brilliant satirist, his tastes in literature were catholic, and he could quote Kipling by heart.

As someone who took moderate to conservative stances on political issues, Marshall at one time commented frequently as “daybeggar” on the old TimesDaily forum. He was delighted to have been made an honorary member of the Republican Women’s Club.

Marshall’s only sibling Don once gave him the complete collection of Elvis Presley recordings which he cherished, but his favorite artist was Jimmy Dale Gilmore who sang of “commitin’ suicide in self defense.” Sadly, Don Gardner passed away as a result of an accident in 2010.

Marshall always cared deeply for Don’s two children. Nephew Will Gardner of Winchester, Virginia, and niece Lara Gardner Allen of Birmingham also survived Marshall.

Marshall took a special interest in the Alabama Veteran’s Museum in Athens where a brick in his honor lies in the courtyard. As an alternative memorial choice, there’s nothing more fitting than a gift to this institution.


Each of us at Shoalanda Speaks offers our sincere sympathy to Mr. Gardner's friends and family.

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