by David Ammons | June 10th, 2010
“Booth Who?” was the slogan that puckish campaign aides famously used for Booth Gardner’s early campaign buttons and yardsigns back when he wasn’t exactly a household name yet. He eventually hit the political version of a Grand Slam, serving in the state Senate, Pierce County Executive and as the two-term governor.
His story is now told in a new Legacy Project book called, naturally enough, “Booth Who?” It’s available free online and in print form ($25 softcover, $35 for limited edition hardcover). No public dollars were used for the printing. Author John Hughes, chief historian, spent untold hours interviewing Gardner and many other sources, and dipping into the state Library and state Archives collections. It’s the 10th title now published.
The Legacy Project in the Office of Secretary of State is part of the planned state Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus and online. The Center, which brings together the Archives, Library, history exhibits, an education center and more, was approved by the Legislature several years ago, and awaits a final go-ahead in January.
Several hundred friends, family, legislators, former aides and colleagues joined to honor Gardner at a book rollout Wednesday evening at the University of Puget Sound, where he was once dean of the business school and a longtime trustee and benefactor. UPS President Ron Thomas called it a homecoming for Gardner. The emcee, Secretary of State Sam Reed, listed some of Gardner’s lifetime achievements and added, “He continues to inspire and challenge us even today.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire, Gardner’s fellow Democrat and his former Ecology director, regaled the audience with memories of Gardner, including eluding the security detail and sneaking downtown for a hamburger. She hailed his lifetime of work for citizens’ most basic needs, and for inspiring people for public service. Gov. Dan Evans, a Republican who worked with Gardner on higher education construction and other causes, also attended the event, as did Democratic state Auditor Brian Sonntag. The event will be available for viewing at www.tvw.org. A photo gallery is here.
Gardner, who is combatting Parkinson’s disease, held court from his wheelchair, spending time with each person who lined up for a photo or to spend a few quiet moments in conversation. His voice was mostly shot when it came time to respond to the effusive praise, but he said later that he had an amazing time. He was among the very last to leave the hall.