ForeverMissed
Former Oregon legislator, renowned attorney, and passionate science author James “Jim” Gardner was known to friends and family as a brilliant but humble man with a boundless sense of humor and a love for building personal connections with others. His professional reputation for excellence was exceeded only by the love and affection held by those closest to him.

Jim was raised in Kansas City, Missouri as the eldest of five siblings (alongside Esther, Ruth Louise, Mary “Dolly”, and John). His lifelong passion for learning led him to study philosophy and theoretical biology as an undergraduate at Yale University. As part of his thesis project for the Scholar of the House program, Jim conducted a series of private interviews with Jean-Paul Sartre in the fall of 1967. Alongside his studies, Jim worked as Feature Editor for Yale Scientific Magazine and interned at the Wall Street Journal.

After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Jim served for three years in a clandestine branch of US Army Intelligence in Germany. There, he developed a lifelong passion for Germany, its language and its food.

Upon returning to civilian life, he entered Yale Law School and earned the position of Article Editor for the Yale Law Journal. After law school, Jim served as a clerk for Judge Alfred T. Goodwin on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then clerked for Justice Potter Stewart on the United States Supreme Court. During both clerkships, Jim was involved in developing and refining some of the key judicial doctrines surrounding the fields of antitrust law and civil rights.

Following his judicial clerkships, Jim moved permanently to Oregon and immediately sought election as a Democrat to the Oregon State Senate. Jim served in the Senate from 1978 to 1984, where he served as Chairman of the Education Subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Development. Jim was especially proud of his early sponsorship of bills that sought to expand gay and lesbian civil rights in 1979, 1981, and 1983. He was consistently ranked as the outstanding member of the Oregon State Senate in polls conducted by the Oregonian and other newspapers.

Following his time in the Senate, Jim co-founded what would eventually become the lobbying firm of Gardner & Gardner alongside his wife and lifelong partner Lynda. Their small family firm would go on to represent some of the world’s largest multinational corporations and helped promote legislation that accelerated the rise of green technology and expanded job opportunities in Oregon.

Alongside his lobbying practice, Jim co-founded the Conference of World Regions (CWR), a non-profit organizations dedicated to improving international communication and educating elected officials on science- and technology-driven policy issues. Participants in CWR included major organizations such as the European Commission, the OECD, the World Bank, the US Council of State Governments, and the US Council for International Business. Jim’s passion for these topics grew out of his lifelong love of travel and cultural exchange, and he remained a consummate traveler and explorer even after the dissolution of CWR.

Jim leaves behind a wealth of writings and intellectual contributions, particularly on topics at the intersection of science and philosophy. He wrote his first book, Effective Lobbying in the European Community, in 1991. His first science book, Biocosm, was published in 2003 and was selected in by Amazon.com’s editors as one of the top ten best science books of that year. He published his third book, The Intelligent Universe, in 2007. Features on his books appeared in TIME magazine, US News & World Reports, Harper’s magazine, and National Geographic. Jim was also the author of numerous articles published in the Wall Street Journal, WIRED, World Link, Complexity, the International Journal of Astrobiology, and other prestigious journals. In addition to his own writings, Jim also served as chief freelance book reviewer for the Sunday Oregonian on popular science and technology nonfiction books.

In spite of his lifetime of professional achievements, Jim’s greatest passion was for his family and friends. Jim was inseparable from his wife Lynda, with whom he traveled the world and shared a professional practice for decades. Together, they instilled in their children Rachel and Joe a passion for discovery and exploration and built a wealth of friendships and close associations that helped provide comfort and warm memories during Jim’s final months of illness. Jim died peacefully, surrounded by family members, on the day of his 44th wedding anniversary. He is survived by his wife, children, siblings, and grandchildren Anza and Elio.

A memorial service will be held at a later date, once concerns over the spread of Covid have lessened. Information regarding a memorial will be posted to this site. 

Posted by Margaret Pigeon on April 29, 2021
Jim was a kind, caring,loving, happy person.He had the ability to put people at ease from the first moment you met him. Jim was always open, humorous and welcoming. We would always look forward to Jim & Lynda arriving here in Cairanne, France knowing that we would have many lively dinners, stimulating conversations and fun times together. Jim will be sorely missed by all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lynda and the family at this very difficult time. Margaret & Peter Pigeon.
Posted by RICHARD BOTTERI on April 27, 2021
Jim was an excellent lawyer and a great Democrat. I went door-to-door for him during his campaign for the senate. A great loss.
Posted by Michael Dotten on April 27, 2021
I remember Jim as a brilliant and kind lawyer, a legislator who realized that one didn't have to surrender principles in order to compromise, leading to inevitable progress on social and governmental issues. Many lawyers and lawmakers could learn from Jim's legacy.
Posted by jerard weigler on April 25, 2021
 A fine legal mind and an ebullient personality!!

 He was a cheerful, brilliant man with a quick laugh.
 A great pleasure to practice law with him and to exchange
 analytical ideas on complex issues but always see the humor.
 He was courteous professional and much fun to work with and also
  socialize.. He will be greatly missed

(The crib photo is a genius selection that he would have delighted in.)

 
Posted by Dianne Danowski Smith on April 25, 2021
Andrew and I are absolutely devastated to learn of Jim's passing. He was absolutely always the smartest guy in the room and generally pretty humble about it. We treasured our dinners and wine tasting with him and Lynda, and our trips to France, even getting to stay with them at their house in Provence, where we've been many times since. Their firm and mine shared clients so getting to work with him and Lynda on advocacy issues was where I learned so much. We can't imagine a world without Jim. Our prayers are with you Lynda, Rachel and Joe and the rest of the family. Godspeed to you. We hope there will be an in-person memorial. XXOOO
Posted by Rex Armstrong on April 25, 2021
Leslie and I are profoundly saddened to learn of Jim’s death. He was a remarkable and wonderful human being who contributed much to the lives of the people who knew him and to the greater community. He is greatly missed. Our love to Lynda and family.
Posted by Arlene Lord on April 25, 2021
I am so sorry to learn of Jim’s passing. I always looked forward to his sweet smile and easy laugh. I count myself among the lucky that go to know him. All my love to you, Lynda, and to the rest of your family. 
Posted by Bruce Bishop on April 23, 2021
Jim was truly the only renaissance man I ever had the privilege to know, work with, and learn from. His tolerance for us “mere mortals” was remarkable, and he was also fun to be around. 

As Salem lobbyists, we worked together on landmark health care legislation, including Oregon’s Death With Dignity, Genetic Privacy, and Clinical Research laws. We even collaborated to convince the Oregon State Bar that lawyer-lobbyists were engaged in the practice of law, not just in legislative puffery.

When he published his Cosmology book, I had to look up the word to know what he was writing about. I attended his lecture at Powell’s to try to understand it, and I remember the large and eclectic audience it drew. Even after reading the whole work, I grasped only a fragment of what it was all about. That's the kind of stuff Jim did in his “free time”. 

We exchanged New Year’s greetings in 2019, when Jim reminded me of a conversation we’d had in the Capitol years before. He’d told me that “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” And he noted that the observation “ . . . derived from a credo within the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) community that just because we have not yet discovered ETI, that doesn’t mean that ETI does not exist.” 

And that’s just one small way Jim Gardner will be remembered by so many of us in his wide circle of family, friends, and colleagues in Oregon and elsewhere.
Posted by Jody Daniels on April 23, 2021
Jim will be so missed. His brilliance, institutional memory, his respect for all points of view, his talent for bringing people together. He was a mentor for so many of us. Jody

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Margaret Pigeon on April 29, 2021
Jim was a kind, caring,loving, happy person.He had the ability to put people at ease from the first moment you met him. Jim was always open, humorous and welcoming. We would always look forward to Jim & Lynda arriving here in Cairanne, France knowing that we would have many lively dinners, stimulating conversations and fun times together. Jim will be sorely missed by all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lynda and the family at this very difficult time. Margaret & Peter Pigeon.
Posted by RICHARD BOTTERI on April 27, 2021
Jim was an excellent lawyer and a great Democrat. I went door-to-door for him during his campaign for the senate. A great loss.
Posted by Michael Dotten on April 27, 2021
I remember Jim as a brilliant and kind lawyer, a legislator who realized that one didn't have to surrender principles in order to compromise, leading to inevitable progress on social and governmental issues. Many lawyers and lawmakers could learn from Jim's legacy.
Recent stories

Mama’s Dream … Mother’s Day 2021

Shared by Dolly Greene on May 9, 2021
As I walked on the beach by the Pacific Ocean on Jimmy’s 75th birthday, I contemplated how Mama may have felt about bringing her first child into the world back in 1946 after the end of World War II. The salty air beside the ocean was heavy with moisture and warmth, heralding spring back from the days of winter storms at sea. I thought about what a wonderful day of the year this was for a baby to be born. I know that I will always celebrate Jimmy’s birthday and the gifts his life brought to us all.

I recall that as a young girl in Kansas City, Mama talked to us about her trust in the Bible. I remember Mama telling me her thoughts as we sat beside the fireplace and talked about important topics. She recalled that before she decided to have her first child, she opened the Bible randomly to seek an answer to her question about bringing new life into the world. She found a passage that told her she would have a son who would be a leader among men. That son was James Nelson Gardner, and he did become a leader in so many regards, within the family and in the world at large.

Mama’s words to her children ring true in our hearts long after her passing in May of 1971. She wrote a letter to us we take to heart saying, “First, you can never know how very greatly God has favored me in giving me not one but five of the most lovely and talented children I have ever seen. I feel very humble and yet very honored that He should consider me the one worthy of being your Mother.” Talented and intelligent are words that only begin to describe Jimmy. His energetic and caring spirit carried his siblings, his wife, and children through life as no one else could.

I recall Jimmy’s expression and sincere desire that Mama could have lived to see her grandchildren and great grandchildren. On this Mother’s Day 2021, I think about the children’s musical drama production “Flight into Understanding” that Jimmy helped Mama write during the Vietnam era. In a prologue to the play, they wrote, “Peace is a major concern of us all, and yet except for those of us who have sons who may be called to fight or those whose sons are now at war, it is still something far off, unreal. More real to us is a feeling of day to day struggles. We propose that misunderstanding and distrust can be overcome, perhaps through the mind in a dream.”

Jimmy made the dream Mama dramatized in a musical children’s play become reality. His lifelong work is a testament to his desire to bring the world together in harmony and to understand the universe to the extent possible. Mama truly had a son who was a leader in the truest sense of the word, a leader in his family, his state, country, and world. He will be loved forever.

On April 10th, 2021 as Jimmy stepped into the beautiful and infinite cosmos to join his Mama and Daddy. We honor him with the comfort of his Mother’s words on this Mother’s Day. In 1971, before she passed away, Mama wrote the passage below to her five children, knowing that she had little time left with us.

“I ask only that God take care of you and that you will know He is ever near and that I, your Mother, loved you as much as is humanly possible. Love each other, help each other and remember I would kiss each of you goodnight if I were with you tonight.”

Now Jimmy is with his family in the cosmos once again. We will look to the stars with wonder and some day join the infinite cosmos with him. Until then, let us fill our senses with the wonder of being alive on this small, blue planet in the sea of an infinite universe.

Great memories of Jimmy @ Starlight Theatre

Shared by John Gardner on May 5, 2021
As my sisters mention in their wonderful tributes, our brother Jimmy was always an amazing inspiration for all of his siblings, a person of outstanding abilities and achievements, with a very funny sense of humor.  

My sister Ruth mentions Jimmy was a young actor and singer.  In about 1956, he played the role of Michael in Peter Pan at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, a large outdoor summer theater featuring many Broadway musicals.  Later, he was a member of the chorus there.  We all loved watching Jimmy sing and perform at the exciting shows at Starlight in the summertime under the stars. I think that experience really inspired us younger kids to participate in plays and other performing arts. 

When I was about 6 years old, it was a great thrill for me to play one of the lost boys in my first role in the musical Oliver at Starlight at the same time that Jimmy had a speaking role and in that play. One of our favorite songs from Oliver was “Food, Glorious Food” which we would later sometimes sing at various family feasts.  My short acting career reached its height at a few years later but it was such great fun and an adventure for a kid to be in a musical at Starlight with Jimmy.  When I played "Little Jake" in Annie Get Your Gun, I remember Jimmy sent me a telegram from Yale - which I still have - in which he wrote, "Good luck to my favorite brother!"  

That’s just one example of how our brother inspired and encouraged his younger sisters and brother to seek out new adventures and opportunities, there are many others.

I’ll always feel very proud and lucky that Jimmy has been my big brother! 
Best wishes,
Johnny

Jimmy Gardner as a young actor @ Starlight Theatre in Kansas City:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/XBrH4WDWdRfc2VTs8

IMAGES OF CHANUTE KANSAS ... memories for Jimmy

Shared by Dolly Greene on May 5, 2021
“ Life began on the Kansas prairie, and took us to Oregon and Washington, where we thrive in a pioneer spirit today. As each of us passes on to a universe unknown, we hold dear our connection to each other forever. We are pioneer children bonded together, our brother Jimmy at the helm of our prairie schooner forever. ” - Dolly
In a time between waking and dreaming, the comfort of my birthplace takes my soul and images run through my mind. These are images of the time we were small children in a Kansas prairie town, a listing that brings comfort of childhood days without cares.
The red brick streets, uneven steps
The water fountain in the park, magical with colors
Our backyard with a maze of playground toys arranged by Mama for us to explore
A shed full of stored items, old and rusty, cluttered
Murray Hill School where Jimmy went to first grade
Downtown with sidewalk sales, dresses and shoes
The bakery smells, delicious and hot in the air
The Tioga Hotel set with crisp white tablecloths, shiny silver, cloth napkins and ice water
Black waiters dressed neatly and ready to help
The tall library stairs leading to musty old books
The drive-up bank with a silver drawer filled with lollipops and coin collecting books
The train station with old wooden luggage carts, rattling past
Our screen porch, wet from the hose and puddles of dishpans for bubble blowing swim lessons
Sounds of our rocking horse “Kansas City” skidding on the wooden porch floor
A special weather barometer on the wall near the swamp cooler
The fireplace full of birds, waiting for winter firewood to burn smoke and Mama’s winter sled cart
A special abalone seashell, shiny and glittering in a room with Bible storybooks and Golden fairy tales
Rooms filled with clothes and cedar chests stacked up high
Our baby beds on the porch, lined in a row for summer night sleeping
The sound of bare feet on the gray painted porch floor
The old table we ate on, legs sawed down for us to sit on the floor
Next door neighbors, Virginia and Lee and the garden tea parties amid tall flowers and vegetables
The smell of Virginia’s kitchen and Lee in his living room lounge chair nearby
Our wagon adventures past Virginia’s house, our wagon dining car followed by our parade of tricycles
Jimmy’s tornado shelter, a work in progress in the backyard
At night, the trains roll by with rhythm and cadence while we slept on the floor of the screened porch
The morning doves woke us as dawn came slowly
Waffles on the waffle iron, toasted fresh
Time for golf and swimming, the Country Club awaits
The sound of the clubhouse screen door opening and closing and the voices inside, smells of hamburgers and
fries billow out
The old porch swings on a wide veranda style porch, move and sway in the wind
Tall swings on the grass lawn where we play
The sounds of the swimming pool, jumping and splashing as Mama teaches us to swim
The golf course greens, soft on bare feet, wide prairie fairways open sky and the smell of cut hay
Washing stations for golf balls, a toy for us, scrubbing the golf balls and drying them on a white towel
Rolling in the prairie grass, patting the soft greens as Mama hits the golf ball, then pushes the stroller of babies
along and we pull the golf cart
Life began on the Kansas prairie, and took us to Oregon and Washington, where we thrive in a pioneer spirit today. As each of us passes on to a universe unknown, we hold dear our connection to each other forever. We are pioneer children bonded together, our brother Jimmy at the helm of our prairie schooner forever.