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Leonard “Len” Foster Gardner, 98, of Palmyra Virginia, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away on August 30, 2020. He was born in West Stephentown, NY on October 17, 1921. He is survived by his loving wife of 73 years, Doris Anderson Gardner; a son, Rim Gardner (Jenny) of Richmond, VA; 3 daughters, Carol Sherry (Jon) of Providence Forge, VA, Margery Southard (Stephen) of Culpeper,VA and Susan Gardner of Richmond, VA; 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Len’s life was defined by his love of family and of service to his country and community. He started work at the age of 12 as a newsboy in Amherst, MA. In 1940, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving aboard the destroyer USS Reid (DD369) until 1944, and then on the flagship of a Flotilla of 36 LCI gunships until the end of World War II. He was aboard the USS Reid in Pearl Harbor when the United States entered the war on December 7, 1941 and participated in the defense of Midway and the Aleutians, the battles for Guadalcanal, New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa and Le Shima. He left the Navy as a Chief Signalman. He earned degrees from the University of Massachusetts and Stanford University and was inducted into the honorary societies, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Alpha Theta. He was recently awarded an Honorary PhD from University of Massachusetts.
In 1951, Len received an appointment to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. For the next 26 years, Len served in a variety of staff and managerial positions in the Navy Department, Federal Aviation Administration and the National Science Foundation. At one time, he headed the salary and wage administration program for the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics’ worldwide field operations, headed the Navy’s Polaris program office’s Ship Evaluation program, concluding his civil service career as Special Assistant to the Director at the National Science Foundation. During this period, he also served as Mayor and Councilman for several years for the town of Morningside, MD.
Len retired in 1977 and moved to Lake Monticello in Fluvanna County, VA in 1978. In 1979, he took over a small local newsletter, which has grown into Fluvanna County’s newspaper – the Fluvanna Review. Len retired again in 1997 after 18 years as Editor and Publisher.
He served on the Lake community’s Finance Committee and chaired its Long Range Planning Committee. He chaired the Fluvanna County Republican Committee, represented Fluvanna County on the Piedmont Virginia Community College Board, the Community College Foundation Board and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. He has chaired the County’s Board of Zoning Appeals and the Board of Assessors, served on the Economic Development Commission, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Heritage Trail Foundation Board, Museum in Miniature Foundation Board, was a charter member of the Fluvanna Housing Development Board and a member of the Historical Society.
In 1991, he was elected to Fluvanna County’s Board of Supervisors, and was re-elected in 1995 and 1999. He served three years as its chairman. He retired once again in 2003, but continued to be active in community and County affairs. During his service on the Board, the County focused on meeting the demands of rapid growth, purchased the nearly 1,000 acre Pleasant Grove property, constructed a new courthouse, promoted the establishment of a County fire and rescue association, enhanced the County’s commercial tax base, pressed efforts to improve infrastructure, developed a County parks and recreation program, created the Heritage Trail, supported the creation of a viable SPCA facility and program, rescued the abandoned Carysbrook auditorium for the performing arts and the expanded opportunities for cultural development in the County.
A graveside memorial service will be held at 1 pm on September 14, 2020 at Culpeper National Cemetery, 501 East Chandler Street, Culpeper, VA 22701. An outdoor reception will follow from 4 – 6 pm at the Pleasant Grove Pavilion, 271 Pleasant Grove Drive, Palmyra, VA 22963. Arrangements are being handled by Sheridan Funeral Home in Kents Store, VA. Masks and social distancing will be appreciated.