12 things you should know about Ron’s buddy, Bert Gardner

Bert-Obit

IT WAS TWO YEARS AGO TODAY

Bert was the son of a traveling salesman who took his family along via a travel trailer that would be stationed in roadside campgrounds. By age 16, he had lived in 47 different states.

As a boy, he fashioned a radio from an oatmeal box and wire, and a love of storytelling blossomed as he enjoyed the early radio shows.

Endlessly curious, he delighted in figuring out how things work, fixing everything from motorcycles to washing machines and devising ingenious solutions to everyday problems.

His tall stature and guy activities like motorcycling, wrestling and hunting were at odds with the fact that he also was a hopeless romantic, teased for his appreciation of chick-flick movies and women’s fashion and never failing to write heartfelt notes to family members in recognition of special events.

He was smart, witty and extraordinarily well read.

Bert’s career in advertising spanned decades beginning with BBDO in New York, later moving to Leo Burnett in Chicago. Even in his early years, he created memorable campaigns such as the “Man from Glad.”

He began working at the Minneapolis office of Bozell Worldwide in 1977 and retired in 1995 as Creative Managing Partner and Executive Creative Director.

He would describe his achievements more in terms of teaching and opening doors for others and perhaps his greatest contribution to advertising was his mentoring of the ad world’s rising creative stars. He taught his staff to concentrate until the work was great-even if the product was a simple coupon ad.

At home, he devoted time to studying bird habits. Very early mornings always found Bert, seated in his favorite chair, watching his many bird feeders, nursing a thermos of coffee and reading from a book grabbed from a library used book sale, a bargain counter or his collection of fine classics.

He loved reading, seizing every opportunity to discover his next book or to discuss his latest read.

He also found fulfillment in retirement by donating his time to Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network where, nearly every Friday, he recorded for the blind a wide range of books from the witty Jimi Hendrix Turns 80 to Dog Days.

Bert leaves a huge hole in the lives he touched and is dearly missed by his family and friends who remember him for his adventurous spirit, his bear-like energy, his way with words, his candor and his pithy wisdom.

If reading and thinking about Bert makes you smile, click here to sign his guest book.

9 comments

  1. Steve Centrillo · · Reply

    Do miss Bert. Hard to believe it was two years ago.

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  2. Bob Warren · · Reply

    Bert was awesome.

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  3. Kurt Tausche · · Reply

    As Bert went into hospice he kept everyone informed on caring bridge.

    I followed closely and found an amazing series of writings, observations and lessons from Bert as his life wound down.

    So I compiled them into a document, “Bert’s Final Draft.”

    How remarkable his attitude was.

    I will share if you’re interested.

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    1. How thoughtful and kind. Yes, please send me a copy!

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  4. Thanks for posting this on the two-year anniversary of Bert’s passing. I think the best line in his obituary is: “Perhaps Bert Gardner’s greatest contribution to our industry was mentoring rising creative stars.”

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  5. Ron Wachino · · Reply

    My best Bert Gardner story goes like this.

    Creatives are out in Arizona at a secret test track to try out the Plymouth Neon…then still a hand built prototype worth $250,000 because of all the man hours that went into building it.

    It was Valentine’s Day weekend. I remember that because I know how pissed off my wife was that I was spending time with a compact car instead of her.

    The track was in the middle of the desert. (It was the first time I ever saw a real road runner.) We were far away from the prying eyes of competitive car company “spies” whose job it was to take photographs with extremely long lenses of anything that may be in development.

    It was a classic test track…oval shaped with banks on either end. In the middle of the oval was a slalom course constructed of pylons where we were asked to test the car’s maneuverability. Everyone took the car around the track at a decent speed then slowly pulled into the slalom course, careful not to knock over any of the pylons.

    Bert went last. I don’t know what was more interesting– watching Bert take the Neon through the paces. Or watching the Plymouth engineers cringing with every turn.

    When Bert brought the car back, the rubber on the front tires was worn down to the steel belts. And there was a pylon wedged in the wheel well.

    And that’s how I’ll remember Bert.

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    1. Loooove this! Thanks for sharing!!

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  6. Donivan Perkins · · Reply

    Great post David. Loved working with Bert. Smart. Funny. Generous.

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    1. Thanks, Donivan, for taking time to read this post and share your feelings.

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