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 Executive of Pierce County
In office
May 1, 1981 – December 31, 1984
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJoe Stortini
Personal details
Born(1936-08-21)August 21, 1936
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
DiedMarch 15, 2013(2013-03-15) (aged 76)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jean Gardner (Divorced)
Cynthia Gardner (Divorced)
EducationUniversity of Washington, Seattle (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)

Booth Gardner (August 21, 1936 – March 15, 2013) was an American politician who served as the 19th governor of the U.S. state of Washington between 1985 and 1993. He also served as the ambassador of the GATT. A Democrat, Gardner served in the Washington State Senate and was Pierce County Executive prior to his tenure as governor. His service was notable for advancing standards-based education and environmental protection.


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. In 1976, he owned the Tacoma Tides in its one year in the American Soccer League. In 1978, he co-owned the Colorado Caribous franchise in the NASL with Jim Guercio.


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. 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.[4]

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.[5] 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;[6] he remained involved in implementing the Act.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

Gardner died at his home in Tacoma, Washington on March 15, 2013, of Parkinson's disease. He was 76.[11]


  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", Seattle Times, archived from the original on March 1, 2014
  4. ^ Egan, Timothy (March 21, 1992). "Washington Governor Signs Measure on Obscene Music". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Postman, David (February 7, 2006), "Ex-governor backs initiative to legalize assisted suicide", The Seattle Times
  6. ^ Tu, Janet I. (November 5, 2008), "'Death with dignity' act passes", The Seattle Times, archived from the original on February 6, 2009
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Bergner, Daniel (December 2, 2007), "Death in the Family", The New York Times
  9. ^ Oscars, Nominees (February 2010). "2009 Oscar Nominees". USA: Oscars. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  10. ^ Shaw, Linda (December 9, 2005), "Former governor now opposing WASL test for diploma", The Seattle Times, archived from the original on March 10, 2007
  11. ^ "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
Joe Stortini
Preceded by
John Spellman
Governor of Washington
Succeeded by
Mike Lowry
Preceded by
Terry Branstad
Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
John Ashcroft
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim McDermott
Democratic nominee for Governor of Washington
1984, 1988
Succeeded by
Mike Lowry