Family, friends remember former Wash. Gov. Booth Gardner at memorial

Credit: TVW

Family, friends remember former Wash. Gov. Booth Gardner at memorial

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by KING 5 News

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 30, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Friends, family and colleagues gathered for an emotional memorial for former Gov. Booth Gardner on Saturday.

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire, Congressman Denny Heck and several members of Gardner's family spoke at the memorial at the University of Puget Sound's Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma.

"He always told me you can't control who God choose to be your family," said Booth's grandson, Jack Nettleton.  "God, thank you."

Nettleton spoke first, and shared stories about the close bond he had with his grandfather.  He said the two spent hours together in the car over the years, driving to Jack's various athletic events.

He said his grandfather taught him people are always happier when they feel valued, and vowed to emulate that way of thinking.

"I love you grandpa," he said. "I look forward to telling you all about all you inspired me to do, over a medium coke and a hamburger in heaven's Frisko Freeze."

The Tacoma fast food restaurant was mentioned several times during the service. It was one of Gardner's favorite places to grab a meal.

"He said, we're going to go get a hamburger," former Governor Chris Gregoire recalled one fast food run the two made together.  "And I said, I read in the paper how the doctors say you shouldn't have hamburgers, and he said that's why it's a secret mission!"

The crowd burst into laughter upon hearing that story.

Gregoire and Rep. Denny Heck both got emotional as they spoke about the man that shaped their own political careers.

"You know, we all knew this day would come, that Booth would find a better place," Gregoire said.  "We just didn't know how hard it would be."

Heck described Gardner as an unwavering advocate for social justice, kind, and the most humble man he'd ever known.

"Booth had time for everybody, absolutely everybody," Heck said.

The Rev. David Alger officiated and Gov. Jay Inslee presented flags that were flown at half-staff on the state Capitol campus in Gardner's honor. 

Inslee also read a letter from former President Bill Clinton, who wanted to send his condolences to the Gardner family. 

In addition, the current governor expressed interest in re-naming Highway 167 "The Booth Gardner Memorial Highway."

"He is a star, he was a star, and that light is going to shine for a long, long time for the state of Washington," said Inslee.

Gardner died March 15 at his Tacoma home from complications of Parkinson's disease.  He was 76 years old.

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