William Tudor Gardiner
First World War
During First World War, Gardiner served in the army. He later became the first lieutenant of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery. He served outside the United States and participated in the operation that attained the Italian Armistice. After his military service, he established his law career in Portland, Maine.
Gardiner was elected as a member of the Maine House of Representatives in 1920. He held that position for six years. In 1928, he was nominated by the Republican Party for the governorship of Maine. He won the general election by a popular vote. He was successful in his re-election bid in 1930. During his administration, when the stock market crashed, the crippling economic problems were dealt with. He left office on January 4, 1933.
During World War II Gardiner returned to the Army, serving in the United States Army Air Forces as a staff officer. While assigned as Intelligence Officer of the 51st Troop Carrier Wing in North Africa, he joined Brigadier General Maxwell D. Taylor, artillery commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, on a clandestine mission behind Axis lines in Italy on September 7-8, 1943. Meeting with Italian prime minister Marshal Pietro Badoglio and General Giacomo Carboni, the pair had been sent to assess the chances of success of an airborne operation to seize two airfields near Rome in advance of the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno, and the credibility of Italian assurances of cooperation. As a result of the meeting, the proposed operation was cancelled at the last minute and a disaster averted.
Gardiner married Margaret Thomas and they had four children. Their son, Tudor (a lawyer), was married to Tenley Albright, a distinguished figure skater, and later a surgeon. He was an Episcopalian.
Gardiner was killed in a plane crash on August 3, 1953. He, along with state Senator Edward E. Chase and South Portland grocer Edwin S. Burt were flying home from a 56th Pioneer Infantry Association reunion in Shamokin, Pennsylvania when the Beechcraft Bonanza they were flying in exploded, crashing in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. Gardiner was buried at Christ Church Cemetery in Gardiner, Maine.
- Sobel, Robert and John Raimo. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978. Greenwood Press, 1988. ISBN 0-313-28093-2