Panolian Editorial 2/8/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2013

Leadership void felt again this week at Gardner’s death

“We should never again depend so much on one man” was a common thought when Leonard Morris passed away in 2007, leaving a void almost too big to fill.

District 11 Mississippi Representative Joe Gardner, who had replaced Morris in the legislature and helped fill that void, died this week.

Gardner was a worker. A retired school teacher/school administrator at North Panola High School, he also found time to serve on South Panola Schools’ trustee board. A Vietnam era army veteran, he retired from the Mississippi National Guard and was currently serving for his brothers-in-arms as Commander  and charter member of the newly formed VFW Post as well as being active in about every worthwhile organization around.

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Having an enterprising nature, Gardner never had “a” job—he always had three, four or more.
During his career in education, he would also have National Guard meetings to attend, and an insulation business, not to mention looking after a family farm, whether row crops or emus.

He was always a very busy man. Driving on Curtis Road near his home, one has to notice the number of 18-wheelers parked at different households. Many of those drivers and others were trained by Joe Gardner who saw a need and put people to work after opening a truck driving school, Gardner Institute, Inc.

All this while being not only a father, husband and family member, but also serving his God as pastor of Greater Concord M.B. Church.

Gardner turned his attention again to service when an opening came on the South Panola School Board, and again after the death of his friend and neighbor Morris when Gardner sought and won the District 11 Representative position.

His death was a surprise to us all but what was not a surprise were the comments concerning his kind behavior and demeanor from colleagues in the Mississippi House.

Joe served well his God, his family, his community and his state.

Now, there is another void.

(Please see related obituary this section)