Booth Gardner

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Booth Gardner
Booth Gardner.jpg
19th Governor of Washington
In office
January 16, 1985 – January 13, 1993
LieutenantJohn Cherberg
Joel Pritchard
Preceded byJohn Spellman
Succeeded byMike Lowry
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
July 31, 1990 – August 20, 1991
Preceded byTerry Branstad
Succeeded byJohn Ashcroft
1st Pierce County Executive
In office
May 1, 1981 – January 1, 1985
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJoe Stortini
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 26th district
In office
January 11, 1971 – December 13, 1973
Preceded byLarry Faulk
Succeeded byC. W. "Red" Beck
Personal details
William Booth Gardner

(1936-08-21)August 21, 1936
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
DiedMarch 15, 2013(2013-03-15) (aged 76)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Jean Forstrom
(m. 1960; div. 2001)
Cynthia Perkins
(m. 2001; div. 2008)
EducationUniversity of Washington, Seattle (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)

William Booth Gardner (August 21, 1936 – March 15, 2013) was an American politician who served as the 19th governor of Washington from 1985 to 1993. He also served as the ambassador of the GATT. A member of the Democratic Party, Gardner previously served as a member of the Washington State Senate, representing the 26th district from 1971 to 1973 and served as the Pierce County Executive prior to his tenure as governor. His service was notable for advancing standards-based education and environmental protection.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Gardner was born in Tacoma, Washington on August 21, 1936. He attended Clover Park Junior High in Lakewood, Washington before graduating from Lakeside School in Seattle.[1] His parents divorced when he was very young; through his mother's remarriage he became an heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune. His mother and his sister, his only sibling, died in a plane crash when he was 14.[2]

Gardner was a graduate of the University of Washington and Harvard Business School.[3] His stepfather was Norton Clapp, one of the original owners of the Seattle Space Needle.[4] Booth co-owned the Tacoma Tides, who played for one year in the American Soccer League in 1976.[5] He was also a part-time soccer coach for various teams, including the Tacoma Cozars.[6] In 1978, he co-owned the Colorado Caribous franchise in the NASL with Jim Guercio.[7]

Governor of Washington (1985–1993)[edit]

In the 1984 Democratic primary for Washington state governor, Gardner defeated Jim McDermott. In the general election he unseated Republican incumbent, John Spellman. Gardner was easily elected to a second term in 1988 over state representative Bob Williams.[8] He chose not to seek a third term.[2]

While governor, Gardner signed into law a health care program that provided state medical insurance for the working poor. He helped develop land-use and growth-management policies that made Washington an early environmental leader, steered hundreds of millions of dollars of increased spending toward state universities, increased standardized testing in public education, and improved legal protections for gay people.[2]

On March 21, 1992, Gardner signed a measure that outlawed selling "obscene" music to minors in the state of Washington. The law went into effect on June 11 of that year, and make record store retailers and their employees criminally liable for selling such music to anyone under the age of 18.[9]

Later years[edit]

In 1994, one year after his retirement, Gardner was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In 2006, he announced his support for assisted suicide.[10] In 2008, he filed and successfully spearheaded the campaign for Initiative 1000, Washington's Death With Dignity Act, which was closely modeled on Oregon's assisted dying law;[11] he remained involved in implementing the Act.[12] Gardner said that he supported going even further than the current Washington and Oregon laws, to eventually permit lethal prescriptions for people whose suffering is unbearable without the requirement that the sufferer have a terminal condition.[13]

In 2009, The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner, a short documentary film, was produced by Just Media and HBO, chronicling the Initiative 1000 campaign. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.[14]

Gardner supported eliminating Washington's WASL test, a standardized test that was required to graduate high school. It was replaced in 2009 by the MSP for grades three through eight and the HSPE for grades eight through twelve.[15]

Gardner died at his home in Tacoma, Washington on March 15, 2013, of Parkinson's disease. He was 76.[16]


  1. ^ "Former Gov. Booth Gardner Dies". Congressman Denny Heck. March 16, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Yardley, William (March 18, 2013). "Booth Gardner Dies at 76; Ex-Washington Governor". The New York Times.
  3. ^ La Corte, Rachel (March 16, 2013). "Former Wash. Gov. Booth Gardner dies". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on March 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Wealthy Washingtonian Norton Clapp Dies". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. April 25, 1995. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  5. ^ Luebker, Earl (April 28, 1976). "Tides making fans believe soccer exists". The News Tribune. p. B1. Retrieved August 11, 2021 – via
  6. ^ Farber, Stan (June 20, 1984). "Between speeches, Gardner coaches a soccer power". The News Tribune. p. D1.
  7. ^ Boehm, Charles (July 30, 2015). "The strange but true story of the Caribous of Colorado and their unforgettable fringe uniforms". Major League Soccer. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  8. ^ "THE 1988 ELECTIONS: West; WASHINGTON". The New York Times. November 9, 1988. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  9. ^ Egan, Timothy (March 21, 1992). "Washington Governor Signs Measure on Obscene Music". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Postman, David (February 7, 2006), "Ex-governor backs initiative to legalize assisted suicide", The Seattle Times
  11. ^ Tu, Janet I. (November 5, 2008), "'Death with dignity' act passes", The Seattle Times, archived from the original on February 6, 2009
  12. ^ Tu, Janet I. (February 11, 2009), "Rules governing state's Death With Dignity law debated", The Seattle Times, archived from the original on February 15, 2009
  13. ^ Bergner, Daniel (December 2, 2007), "Death in the Family", The New York Times
  14. ^ Oscars, Nominees (February 2010). "2009 Oscar Nominees". USA: Oscars. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  15. ^ Shaw, Linda (December 9, 2005), "Former governor now opposing WASL test for diploma", The Seattle Times, archived from the original on March 10, 2007
  16. ^ "Former Wash. Gov. Booth Gardner Dies". ABC News. Retrieved March 16, 2013.

External links[edit]

Media related to Booth Gardner at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
New office Executive of Pierce County
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Washington
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Washington
1984, 1988
Succeeded by