Born in Wooster, Ohio, in 1923,
Delbert Ralph Gardner taught college English for twenty-one years
and performed writing and editing for the U.S. government for another
fourteen, all while pursuing his avocation of creative writing.
Thus far, his poetry, fiction, humor, scholarship, and essays have
seen print both in book form and in periodicals such as The
Literary Review, Poetry Digest, Christian Science
Monitor, Approach: A Literary Quarterly, The Hollins
Critic, American Poetry Magazine, Provincetown
Review, Monmouth Review, Weid: The Sensibility
Revue, and the University of Houston's Forum, among
A veteran of World War II, Del
Gardner served in the Eighth Air Force, 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th
Bomb Group (Heavy) from December 1941 to September 1945. After his
honorable discharge, Gardner put the G.I. Bill to good use, earning
his A.B. in English from Syracuse University, followed immediately
by an M.A. in English (American literature) from the same institution.
After several years of teaching, he returned to study at the University
of Rochester for a Ph.D. in English (Victorian literature).
From the '50s through the '70s,
Dr. Gardner taught freshman English, surveys of American and world
literature, creative writing, fiction writing, and seventeenth-
and nineteenth-century literature at Syracuse University, Lycoming
College, and Keuka College, where he achieved tenure. Always enthusiastic
about the arts, he served as the chair of the Artists and Lecturers
Committee at Lycoming College, for which he booked five to six events
each year for the Artists Series, handling all publicity for events
involving artistic personalities such as actors Gene Lockhart and
Sir Cedric Hardwicke. While at Lycoming, he helped organize and
subsequently advised the student literary society, as well as instituting
the college's first course in creative writing.
Achieving assistant, then associate,
professor's rank at Keuka College, Dr. Gardner continued to encourage
students in literary pursuits. He advised the staff of the college
literary magazine, Red Jacket, where students anonymously
selected all work. His participation in the arts community of the
Finger Lakes included two years of service as coordinator and journalist
for the Yates County Arts Council. Dr. Gardner loved the Finger
Lakes region, finding much happiness and inspiration on the idyllic
shores of Lake Keuka, to which he and his family returned each year.
While residing there, Dr. Gardner was honored with two grants-in-aid
from the College Center of the Finger Lakes for literary research
and creative writing, one of which assisted with the completion
of his book, An “Idle Singer” and His Audience:
A Study of William Morris’s Poetic Reputation in England,
1858-1900 (The Hague: Mouton, 1975).
When the mid-'70s recession
eliminated many jobs at the college, Del went into business for
a time before returning to the communications field. For fourteen
years he wrote, edited, and developed educational materials and
training literature for the U.S. Army, ultimately achieving the
civil service rank of GS-11 as a writer/editor for the Army Training
Support Center at Fort Eustis, where he earned a number of Sustained
Superior Performance Awards.
During his lifetime, Delbert
Gardner collected a writer's wealth of job and life experiences.
He grew up during the Great Depression; saw England, France, and
Germany ravaged by war; worked as an usher in a '40's movie palace,
a fireman on a locomotive, a pinsetter at a bowling alley, a salesman
(pianos, vacuum cleaners, and insurance), a cab driver, a journalist,
and everything in between; put himself through graduate school while
subsisting in an artist's garret; achieved his lifelong dream of
an academic and literary career for many years, only to be laid
off when his fortune seemed most secure; and found at last great
satisfaction in a job well done for the U.S. government. Through
it all, he shared comfort and strength with his close-knit family.
With his wife, Marilyn H. Gardner, he raised four children who have
inherited his passion for literature, art, and music. Along with
them, Delbert R. Gardner made his home in Newport News, Virginia,
for over twenty-six years, enjoying many nearby historical and cultural
treasures, a variety of beaches, and six grandchildren.
Sept. 21, 2008, Delbert R. Gardner departed this life. His daughter,
Adele Gardner, will continue to seek
publication for his work, as he requested. In addition to seeking
homes for individual stories, poems, and articles, she will be submitting
collections and collaborating on some of his manuscripts, as they
had discussed. To date, Dr. Delbert R. Gardner has had 59
separate works published (excluding his work as a journalist and
as writer-editor for the U.S. Army).
More about Delbert R.
Tribute to Delbert R. Gardner
For the Love of Reading" by Adele Gardner and Cy Dillon,
54, No. 3-4, July/August/September-October/November/December 2008.
Biographical statement in Editor's
Note Regarding Gardner Poetry as part of "Destination
Home," with editor
Meagan Dye's introduction to the Status Hat Cities issue,
& her father, their two poems "Refreshment
from Beyond the City's Grasp" by Adele Gardner and "Scenes
in an Airport" by Delbert R. Gardner, in Status
issue, March 2011.
A biography of Dad & his
cat in "Our
Mother Tongue," Hazard
Cat, Feb. 9, 2011.
Please find out more by exploring
the pages of this site, and see also the many tributes, biographies,
and memories shared on About
My Dad & Me: Featuring Del & Adele! For
instance, with input from her mother, Dr. Gardner's papers, and
her personal knowledge of the man, Adele Gardner responds to biographical/author's
statement questions on her father's behalf. Visit About
My Dad & Me: Featuring Del & Adele for links to these
memoir-style writer's statements (in particular, the column "More
about Del & Adele" on the right). Also, check out the Artist's
Statement about "Dove and Delbo" at Photography
Delbert R. Gardner inspired
the linked sites of "The
Gardner Castle." Ever since he coined the title in 1995,
it has resonated with me, particularly since my brothers and I have
often discussed the possibility of artistic collaboration. In addition
to the inspiration of his own dedication to writing, Dad has nurtured
so many of our creative interests and pursuits, he truly is the
king of the castle!
"You have reached the Gardner
Castle. If you would like us to return your call, please leave
a message after the beep."--DRG