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Sunday, January 6, 2013

WA Capt. Arthur F. Gardner

WA Capt. Arthur F. ‘Art’ Gardner
May 14, 1919 ~ January 4, 2013

Marine Corps WWII veteran, recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross, WAL pilot,
Lawyer, Los Angeles school board member/president,
DGW president 1991 & 1992

Notification of the passing of early Western pilot Captain Arthur Fuller Gardner, age 93. Art was the youngest of six born in a farm home near Batavia NY, raised on the family farm near Alexander NY. Captain Gardner hired on with Western Airlines 12-10-1945 and retired with Western at the mandatory age 60 in 1979, based LAX. Art’s time with Western actually began when he hunkered down and survived a plane crash! On December 15, 1942, a Western plane en route to Los Angeles crashed near Fairfield UT. Of the 19 passengers and crew aboard, 17 died. News articles read: “A doughty 23-year-old Leatherneck tightened his safety belt and rode out a Western Airlines transport crash...Lieut. A. F. Gardner of Alexander NY and the United States Marine Corps smiled through a scratched bruised face...suffered a double fracture in the right thigh and shoulder injuries....” Lt. Gardner did so well in testifying for Western as to what happened the night of the crash, that Western’s Jimmie James offered him a job when the war was over. Thus began his career with Western in 1945. In 1972, Captain Gardner became Senior Vice President of Flight Operations but went back to the line after two years because he didn’t like a desk job. Art was admitted to the state bar of California in 1951 and was a practicing lawyer. He was a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education, 1951-1955 and 1959-1971, was chosen as board president for two one-year terms, in 1960-61 and 1969-70, which were turbulent integration times for schools. After leaving the school board, he served as chairman of the Council for Peace and Equality in Education. Captain Gardner was active with ALPA and was president of the Delta Golden Wings (1991-1992). 

Captain Gardner was in an assisted living facility in Costa Mesa CA at the time of his passing. The Los Angeles news article notes that he had been in hospice care since suffering a stroke in December. I have not yet seen an obituary in print nor am I aware of funeral arrangements.   Further updates to follow...

Thank you,
~ Carol

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