Early life and family
Millard M. Gardner was born on August 16, 1903 at Dallas County, Texas. He came from a pioneer Texas family and it was said that the name Gardner was synonymous with "Rough on Rats". His father was Henry Gardner, a deputy sheriff, and his uncle, Dick Gardner, was a noted undercover narcotics detective. Gardner's brother, 6' 6 noted Dallas police sergeant Buryl Gardner was also another tough lawman in the family of note.
Career as a lawman
Gardner worked odd jobs during his youth, such as working for his father's contracting business and bossing a threshing rig in the Panhandle. While building houses, doctors ordered Gardner to quit. Out of work at age twenty - two he began his career in law enforcement. Gardner made his living as a bounty hunter from 1925 to 1927, serving summons from the courthouse and hunting bootleggers alone.
Gardner was a "one - man reign of terror" among bootleggers during Prohibition. They called him the "Dry Wolf". It was said that "Dry Wolf" Gardner would go to a speakeasy, have a drink, and walk out. Then he would raid the place.
Gardner set a record of the thousands of illegal alcohol he poured out and raided several moonshine stills along the Trinity River bottoms. The "Dry Wolf" would walk upon a shotgun guard at a still and take control. Although it was dangerous work, a newspaper reported, "Dry Wolf Gardner was too easy going to be afraid".
A medical problem in 1927 ended his career as a deputy sheriff and as a "one man prohibition squad". He then joined the Highland Park Police force and served as a motorcycle officer until an injury. Gardner then served in a squad car, being involved in car chases and standoffs with outlaws.
Gardner, at age 36, described as 6' 1, trim build with broad shoulders, tanned face, and always neatly groomed and wearing a suit, was elected as Chief of Police in Highland Park. The cigar - toting, handsome Millard Gardner kept Highland Park safe during his reign from 1939 until 1950, even being Provost Marshal of a nearby military base. However he retired from law enforcement, attending to his family.
Millard Gardner suffered the death of his brother, Buryl Gardner, in 1948, and later the death of his son, Hugh, in 1953 after a car accident. Afterwards, his other son, Henry Gardner, also a legend in police work, was elected as Police Chief of Highland Park, as well as being a firefighter. Millard M. Gardner died from lung cancer in 1989 at Dallas, Texas.
Dallas Morning News