Mary Garner Gardenhire, 70, departed this earth to be with Christ on October 4, 2019.
Mary was preceded in death by her father, Kenneth Bishop Garner, Sr., her mother, Frankie Hotalen Garner and her beloved sister, Connie Marie (“Sissy”) Garner.
She leaves a brother, Kenneth B. Garner, Jr. (Sherry), daughter, Kimberly Alice Gardenhire Scarborough (Victor), son, Randall Todd Gardenhire, Jr. (Amber), and four grandchildren; McKenzie Marie Gardenhire, Maddox Bishop Gardenhire, Blake Levi-Gardenhire and Alexis May Scarborough.
She was a 1967 graduate of Brainerd High School, attended Covenant College and graduated from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1972 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in History. While at UTC, Mary was the editor of the independent student newspaper, The Fourth Estate, as well as an advisor to the independent student newspaper on the Knoxville campus of UT, The Other Publication, sponsored by the local chapters of Young American’s for Freedom.
Elected to the Hamilton County Quarterly Court in August, 1972 as the highest voter recipient of all the 15 districts and elected again in November, 1972 after a court challenge to redraw the districts. She served for six years. This was the first time in 150 years the Republicans controlled an elected body in Hamilton County. She also headed up the district office of the Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon in the 1972 election.
From December 1972 until January 1975, Mary was on the staff of Congressman LaMar Baker as his constituent service representative for the Third Congressional District. Active in the local Republican Party, Mary held several leadership positions during the 70s; most notability was being the Third Congressional District Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1976 pledged to Gov. Ronald Reagan.
Mary was the first woman to be a member of the Chattanooga Jaycee’s. She also served on the Metro Government Charter Commission. Later she worked with Washington advocacy groups to secure federal funding for the Walnut Street Bridge project. Mary served on the Erlanger Board of Trustees from 1992 until 1999. While on the Erlanger Board, she supported the implementation of the Wound Care Center Program and the Emergency Heart and Stroke Center; the construction of the Pediatric Subspecialty Building, the East Brainerd Outpatient Facility, the Ancillary East Surgery Center, the Women’s East Pavilion, the Chattanooga LifeStyle Center and the Medical Mall; and the formation of the Galaxy Health Alliance.
Mary was an owner of Ken Garner Enterprises, a family business founded by her father. She served as corporate secretary for Ken Garner Manufacturing, Inc. since its founding. Mary was licensed to sell insurance in 1980 and was awarded special recognition in sales during her time at Hufffaker and Associates. Mary worked with several agencies, one of which she owned. It was during these years she and her assistant, Rebecca Guest, successfully became a formidable team in the insurance industry. She currently worked with Southern Insurance.
Mary was an accomplished piano player, avid reader, gifted writer, advocate for others, and loved to travel and immerse herself in other cultures. Mary was a devoted mother and grandmother with wisdom in her words and calming comfort in her advice. Mom’s advice was one of a kind and may these words and fierce loving kindness forever echo in our minds and hearts. Mom was warm, loving, tenacious, resilient, fearless, educated, gracious, loyal and the epitome of lady to the very end of her life. Our lives are forever changed and words can’t describe how much she will be missed.
Mary fought a courageous and relentless eight-month battle against Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Her family is extremely grateful to her doctors and nurses, Hans Humberger (Therapy Consultants) and numerous others involved in her care. Eternal thanks especially to her wonderful caregivers Angie Cartwright, Anna Gross, Sierra Dugall, and Theresa Young. They are also thankful for the support and devotion of her faithful friends M. L. Drazich and Russell King.
Her services will be held at Chattanooga Funeral Home East Chapel, 404 South Moore Road on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 11:30 a.m. with the Reverend Steve Bennett officiating.
Visitation will be on Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 4-8 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either the Williams Syndrome Association or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Please share your thoughts and memories at www.ChattanoogaEastChapel.com.