WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
BERT GARDNER (78)
2003 COWBOY HALL OF FAME POSTHUMOUS AWARD
Bert Gardner was born on September 15, 1902 in Sweetwater, Texas. Two weeks later his parents, John and Cattie Lou Gardner, headed west to Arizona in a covered wagon, taking three months to make the journey. They came through Apache Pass by Bowie, Arizona about the time the U.S. Cavalry abandoned Fort Bowie. Bert was raised on a homestead near Douglas fondly called "Poverty Flats" due to the harsh conditions. The Gardner home was near the old Paul's Quarry, and Bert told stories about Pancho Villa and his men coming by the ranch for water and to rest their horses.
Bert later moved to Willcox to attend school and was an accomplished athlete in football, basketball and track. Bert always wanted to be a history teacher and coach football but went to work in the oil fields in Oklahoma with his brothers. He then spent several years as a professional boxer with his brother Roy. They fought under the name of Moore and trained with Jack Dempsey in Rico, Colorado.
He married Gladys Lanham and settle down in the Riggs Settlement managing a ranch until WWII broke out. He joined the Cavalry Corps of the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas for the duration of the war. He and Gladys came back to Willcox and went back to his first love, which was ranching. Over the years, Bert and Gladys worked for several ranches in the area: the 10 Ranch near Safford; the old Shaffer Place north of Bowie; and for the last years of his life, the Stark Riggs' ranch in Dos Cabezas called Red Wing.
Bert loved the simple life of the ranch and he was a true cowman. He loved the serenity and peacefulness of ranch life, and he had lots of friends that would come visit Bert and Gladys just to hear him tell his stories and eat some of Gladys' lemon pie. One was always welcome, but you had better be prepared for one of Bert's tall tales, and he had many.
Bert was an avid roper and competed for many years in the Prescott rodeo over the 4th of July, and in local ropings when time allowed. He had a buckskin roping horse named ”Tommy” that was a companion and friend until he died at the ripe old age of 30.
One of Bert's favorite things to do was go to Willcox on Thursdays to the livestock auction and visit with all the other cowmen. You could find him in the Brand Inspector's office telling one of his tales to Alvie Lane or in the bleachers spinning one of his yarns to an audience.
Bert lived a full life and never regretted a day spent ranching. Taking care of cattle was a love of his and he did it better than most. Bert died in May of 1975 in a horse accident doing what he did best, taking care of cattle. Bert and Gladys had one daughter Nancy and a granddaughter Heather. Bert loved life and lived it to the max and demanded that everyone around him do the same. If you knew Bert Gardner you were lucky. If you did not, ask anyone about Bert and they will say he was a true cowman.