"A eulogy to Sydney Gardner"
- By Paula Gardner
John was born in Ingham in 1932, the only son of Syd & Lil (nee Hodel). Educated at Ingham State Primary School, and Toowoomba Grammar School. Studied pharmacy at the Central Technical College, graduating in 1954. President of the Queensland Pharmacy Students' Society, President of the National Union of Pharmacy Students, and founding co-Editor of the student newsletter, The Draught. In 1954 he was selected as the Central Technical College's student representative to attend the Royal Ball at Brisbane's City Hall; his partner that night was Patricia Gent, who later became his wife.
John Gardner's community service record was a fine one. He completed deferred National Service in 1954, and was chosen as Commanding Officer of the 11 NS Training Battalion during his Intake's Leadership Parade. He then returned to Ingham to take over the pharmacy formerly owned by his late father. In 1957, as a Private soldier, he joined C Company, the 31st Infantry Battalion, rising through the ranks to become Officer Commanding C Company, and retired with the rank of Major in 1971. He was awarded the MBE (Military Division) in 1970, for service to the Citizens Military Forces. He was Chairman of the Ingham Recruiting Committee (CMF) for a period, and was Anzac Day Parade Marshall in Ingham for many years. He was made a Life Member of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association Ingham Branch in 2006 and a Life Member of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association in 2019.
He was Editor of The Whispering Boomerang, the news bulletin of the 3st Infantry Battalion Association from 1994 to 2008. John was editor of the series Lives and Times, Volumes 1 to 4, editor of the book Detoured to War, and collator of a collection of poems titled Voices in Verse on behalf of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association. He was made a Life Member of the Association in 2006. He was accepted as a Member of the Sunshine Coast Legacy Group in 2004, and in 2007 became the inaugural Editor of the Group's newsletter, The Brief. He was posted to Legacy's Retired List in 2012.
John Gardner was elected to the Ingham Ambulance Committee in 1965, and was in turn Treasurer, Deputy-Chairman, and Chairman of the Committee. He was the author of a history of the Ingham Ambulance Centre, titled Sixty Years Ready. In 1987 he successfully revived The Queensland Ambulance Review, last published in 1925, and was that publication's Editor until 1994. He was the longest serving Committee Member in the history of the Ambulance in Ingham.
He was a Founding Member of the Ingham Apex Club, and of Ingham Jaycees, a Founding/Acting Member of the Ingham Little Theatre, a Founding Member of the Ingham Branch of the Queensland Arts Council, President of the Ingham Archery Club and Secretary of the Ingham Golf Club. He played competition squash from 1968 to 1978. He was an early Member of the Ingham Blue Nursing Committee, and Patron for some years.
John was a Founding Member and first Vice-President of the Ingham District Research and Promotion Bureau (later the Development Bureau of Hinchinbrook & Cardwell Shires), and while serving as Chairman of the Bureau's Board of Management was closely involved in negotiations which led to the Cardwell Shire Council aligning itself with the Bureau.
He was the Inaugural (and only) Chairman of the Social Involvement Group of Hinchinbrook, responsible for bringing the first social welfare worker to Ingham. He was Chairman of the Co-ordinating Committee for the James Cook University project, Social Welfare in a Country Town - the Hinchinbrook Study and was local Researcher for the National Register of Unusual Monuments during the Bicentenary Year.
John Gardner was elected to the State Branch Committee of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia in 1977 and to the Guild's National Council in 1981, serving Queensland pharmacists in an honorary capacity for a total of six years. He was a Member of the Queensland Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia for thirty-six years.
He was Inaugural Chairman of the Ingham District Committee on the Ageing, and the guiding force behind the financing and construction of the Forrest Beach Senior Citizens' Centre. He was Secretary of the Ingham District Welfare Council, and an active supporter during the founding of the Community Information and Support Centre.
He was a Community Torch Bearer at Caloundra during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay. John was an enthusiastic reunion convenor, organising a 50th, 60th, and 70th Anniversary for his Toowoomba Grammar School "class of '47", a 50th Reunion for his National Service Intake and a 50th Reunion for his Pharmacy year. From 1971 to 1994 he owned "Mt Leach Farm" in partnership with Mr Alan Bosworth, describing the property as a "Bush Shangri-La".
In a final act of community service John bequeathed his body to the Department of Anatomical Services at the University of Queensland.
John's wife for 62 years, Patricia Hilary, predeceased him in 2019. His ashes will eventually be laid to rest with Patricia's at St Andrews Anglican Church, South Brisbane where he and Patricia (nee Gent), met as choristers in 1955 and where they were married in 1957.