Gardiner W. Tanner
CLARKSVILLE — A man with a strong work ethic and a generous spirit, Gardiner W. Tanner helped others as Bethlehem’s transportation director and as a good neighbor in Clarksville.
“He was always positive,” said his son, Jeffrey Tanner. “He always looked for the good in people.”
He died at St. Peter’s Hospital Hospice in Albany on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. He was 83.
Mr. Tanner was born in Rensselaerville on Aug. 30, 1929, son of the late Lena (Wood) and Raymond Tanner Sr.
“His dad had a farm,” said his son, and family members also worked for the Huyck Mills in Rensselaerville. Mr. Tanner was one of 10 siblings — seven boys and three girls — raised on the farm.
“He told stories about, during World War II, sneaking home when the air-raid signals went off,” said his son.
Not long after graduating from Greenville High School, Mr. Tanner went to work for the Huyck Mills, unloading felt from rail cars.
In 1952, he married Virginia Carl, who had grown up in Clarksville. They met when they got together with friends at a bowling alley, their son said.
The couple was “very happily married,” he said; their union of 60 years ended only with Mr. Tanner’s death.
The newly married couple first “lived in a trailer on my grandmother’s property,” said Jeffrey Tanner. Five years later, Mr. Tanner built a family home, with his own hands, in Clarksville, where the couple raised their two sons. “Mom still lives there today,” said their son.
Jeffrey Tanner has fond memories of the times he spent with his father as he was growing up. “My Dad and I would build furniture together,” he said. “We would do work together around the house. We built a garage….That might sound strange for a 15-year-old kid, but we liked spending time together.”
His son went on, “He had a very strong work ethic; even up till he got sick this month, he would work around the house, building something.”
Mr. Tanner’s strong work ethic also propelled his career. He started working for the Bethlehem Central School District as a mechanic and school bus driver, his son said, and worked his way up to be the transportation director for the large suburban district.
Just after Jeffrey Tanner was born in 1969, his father was promoted to be the superintendent of transportation. Mr. Tanner retired in 1991 after 43 years of working for the Bethlehem schools.
“A lot of the people he worked with and the students he drove came to his funeral,” said his son. “He dealt with a lot of concerned parents, and he must have done a good job because they remembered him and came.”
Mr. Tanner was very fond of his Clarksville home and built a water garden in his yard. “He adored that,” said his son.
He planted everything from flowers to trees — “you name it,” said his son. “And he would give or trade plants with the neighbors.”
Jeffrey Tanner concluded of his father, “He was very generous with his time for the neighbors; if they needed something fixed, he’d fix it. His calling was to serve others, through the school district or helping out the neighbors. He really shined.”
Gardiner W. Tanner is survived by his wife of 60 years, Virginia (Carl) Tanner; two sons, John Tanner of Slingerlands and Jeffrey Tanner and his wife, Jennifer, of Smethport, Pa.; one brother, William Douglas Tanner of Voorheesville; and many nieces and nephews.
Five of his brothers — Roland, Charles, Raymond, Niles, and Robert Tanner — died before him as did three sisters — Bernice Waldron, Janet Furman, and Eleanor Layman.
A funeral service was held on Monday, Dec. 31, at the Meyers Funeral Home in Delmar with interment in Memory Gardens Cemetery in Colonie.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Clarksville Community Church, 1997 Delaware Turnpike, Clarksville, NY 12041.
— Melissa Hale-Spencer