Courtesy Gary Gardiner
‘Always a Story to Tell’ Since he was a 12-year-old growing up in Gainesville, Fla., Gardiner had wanted to be a photographer. “I wasn’t very good,” he says with a laugh. “But who is at 12?” He got his first taste of a photo shoot on a trip to Disneyland in California. He had a brand new Kodak camera and spent the day trying to get good pictures of Sleeping Beauty Castle. When he developed them, he realized he had taken a variety of scenic shots of the railing in front of the castle. He would get his redemption several years later at his first job with the news bureau of the University of Florida. His first assignment sent him to Walt Disney World. He left school in 1972 to work for the Orlando Sentinel. From there, Gardiner’s career took him to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi, the Associated Press in Atlanta and finally to Columbus as a photo editor for the AP in 1982. He recalled his mother asking, “What went wrong?” when he told her he was leaving for Columbus. “Being a good, southern woman, she thought Atlanta was like New York City. Why would you want to leave?” He and his wife, Sherry, made central Ohio their home and settled in Westerville. They have three children, Angie, Amy and Daniel, and eight grandchildren. From The Columbus Dispatch building in
Courtesy Gary Gardiner
downtown Columbus where the AP staff was based, Gardiner says he spent the most rewarding years of his career helping to cover the region. “There was always a story to tell,” he says. “We never wanted for anything.” Along the way, he covered AIDS victims before some news organizations dared and helped install the first digital photo system at papers across the country. But eventually he began clashing with higher-ups about what stories should take priority. His desire to focus on more features and in-depth coverage wasn’t shared by managers. “We just weren’t covering the stories I thought were important,” he says.
TOP: Anglers fish as the sun rises over Hoover Reservoir on July 5, 2014. BOTTOM: Gary Puckett performs Oct. 4, 2015, during the Ned Mosher Apple Butter Festival at McVay Elementary School, as a girl watches from the log cabin.
Westerville365 | Spring 2016