Booth Gardner

Booth Gardner
19th Governor of Washington
In office
January 16, 1985  January 13, 1993
Lieutenant John Cherberg
Joel Pritchard
Preceded by John Spellman
Succeeded by Mike Lowry
Chairperson of the National Governors Association
In office
July 31, 1990  August 20, 1991
Preceded by Terry Branstad
Succeeded by John Ashcroft
1st Executive of Pierce County
In office
May 1, 1981  December 31, 1984
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Joe Stortini
Personal details
Born (1936-08-21)August 21, 1936
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Died March 15, 2013(2013-03-15) (aged 76)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jean Gardner (Divorced)
Cynthia Gardner (Divorced)
Alma mater University of Washington, Seattle
Harvard University

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


Gardner’s 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.[1]

Gardner was a graduate of the University of Washington and Harvard Business School.[2] 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.[1]

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, he 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.[1]

Later years

In 1994, one year after his retirement, Gardner was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. In 2006 he announced his support for assisted suicide.[3] 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;[4] he remained involved in implementing the Act.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8]

Gardner died at his home in Tacoma, Washington on March 15, 2013, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 76.[9]


  1. 1 2 3 Yardley, William (March 18, 2013), "Booth Gardner Dies at 76; Ex-Washington Governor", The New York Times
  2. La Corte, Rachel (March 16, 2013), "Former Wash. Gov. Booth Gardner dies", Seattle Times
  3. Postman, David (February 7, 2006), "Ex-governor backs initiative to legalize assisted suicide", The Seattle Times
  4. Tu, Janet I. (November 5, 2008), "'Death with dignity' act passes", The Seattle Times
  5. Tu, Janet I. (February 11, 2009), "Rules governing state's Death With Dignity law debated", The Seattle Times
  6. Bergner, Daniel (December 2, 2007), "Death in the Family", The New York Times
  7. Oscars, Nominees (Feb 2010). "2009 Oscar Nominees". USA: Oscars. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  8. Shaw, Linda (December 9, 2005), "Former governor now opposing WASL test for diploma", The Seattle Times
  9. "Former Wash. Gov. Booth Gardner Dies". ABC News. Retrieved 16 March 2013.

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
Chairperson 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
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