Dr. Robert G. Gardner, an exceptional individual and extraordinary historian, was president of the Baptist History and Heritage Society from 1983-1984 and recipient of the Society’s W. O. Carver Award in 1986. Pastor, professor, archivist and author, he was well-beloved for his kindness, wit, warmth and encyclopedic memory. Robert Gardner will be missed in the Baptist family. The Summer 2014 Baptist History & Heritage Journal will feature a remembrance of Robert Gardner. Below is an obituary as distributed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. — Bruce Gourley, executive director, Baptist History and Heritage Society
Dr. Robert Granville Gardner, 90, husband of Anne Fargason Gardner, died at his home in Macon on August 11. A memorial service will be held at the First Baptist Church of Christ, 511 High Place, on Friday, August 15, at 2:00 p.m.
Born in Lima, Ohio, he was the son of Ernest Granville and Gertrude Roberts Gardner. After service in the United States Air Force, 1943 to 1946, he was graduated from Mercer University with the bachelor of arts degree in Christianity and philosophy (1949) and from Duke University with the bachelor of divinity degree (1952) and doctor of philosophy degree in church history (1957).
Ordained to the gospel ministry in 1947, he was pastor of four Baptist churches in Georgia and North Carolina. Beginning in 1957 he was associate professor or professor of religion at Shorter College, Rome, Georgia. For twenty-five years he was college historian/archivist. He was named professor emeritus of religion at his retirement in 1994. He was a member of First Baptist Church, Rome, and later First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon.
He was visiting professor at the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary, 1967, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1976 and 1983. From 1995 to 2012 he was senior researcher in Baptist history at Mercer University, Macon.
Gardner was author of six books and numerous pamphlets, articles, book chapters, and reviews dealing with the history of Baptists. He was editor of Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History, 1971 to 1997. For forty years he took an active part in the Georgia Baptist Historical Society and the Baptist History and Heritage Society, serving as president of each.
He received “The Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to Baptist History” from the Historical Commission, Southern Baptist Convention, 1986, and “Citation for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Georgia Baptist History” from the Historical Commission, Georgia Baptist Convention, 1992.
Survivors include Anne Fargason Gardner, his wife of sixty-six years, Macon; Susan G. (Frank) Broome, his daughter, Macon; David R. (Judy) Gardner, his son, Lorane, Oregon; three grandchildren, Anna V. (Chad) Davis and Zachary F. Broome, Macon, and J. Truitt Broome, Athens; two great-granddaughters, Madeline J. Davis and Audrey F. Davis, Macon. The family will receive friends in the church sanctuary both before and after the service.
Donations may be made to the Fargason-Gardner Scholarship Fund, Mercer University McAfee School of Theology, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta 30341, or the Robert G. and Anne F. Gardner Endowed Fund for Baptist History and Research, Mercer University Tarver Library, 1300 Edgewood Avenue, Macon 31207. Hart’s Mortuary and Crematory, Cherry Street, has charge of arrangements. Click here for the online obituary and guestbook.