In Memoriam: Terry Gardner, A Man to Remember

Science for Peace will long be grateful for all the ways Dr. Terrell Gardner contributed to its birth and life.

Terry was the founder and first secretary/vice-president of Science for Peace and one of the editors of SfP’s first book “The Name of the Chamber was Peace,” a work of the Toronto Chapter. He was a member in 1980 of the small committee run by Eric Fawcett for “Directing Science toward Peace,” which was the forerunner of Science for Peace itself. He also joined, in December 1980, a small ad hoc committee that had been studying how to get peace studies established as a discipline at the University of Toronto. No sooner had Terry joined this group, than he proposed to present the concept to University College, whose Council brought it into reality at its November 1981 meeting. This was the conception, if not quite the birth of the peace studies program that lasted so many years at UC.

We begin Terry’s life story at the time he was employed by the Hartford Insurance Company as an actuary. His boss told him he would not advance in the company if he did not give up his knitted hat, his habit of whistling and his bicycle ride to work. He quit.

He took a PhD at Columbia University in the branch of mathematics known as C-star algebra. It was Chandler Davis, his teacher and friend at Columbia, who persuaded Terry to come to the University of Toronto, one of few universities interested in C-star mathematics.

There are elements of Terry’s life that reflect the upbringing he had as one of seven children. Family gatherings were songfests of Bach chorales and 16th and 17th century rounds. He, like his father, sang in choirs. He went on to sing in the Boston Symphony Chorus at Tanglewood, the Camerata Singers in New York and later the Toronto Chamber Society (now renamed the Toronto Chamber Choir).

His wife Connie recalls Terry talking of how he and his sister would go the local dump and retrieve clocks and radios and take them apart just to see how they worked. He was a hands-on type from an early age and always wanted to “figure things out.”

Terry was in the U.S. Navy during the war as an instructor in radar and sonar. After marriage and three daughters, his wife died of cancer. His second wife, Connie helped raise the children.

In Toronto Terry became a pivotal force in sustaining Science for Peace and promoting the idea of a Peace Studies Chair at the university. Starting with no money Terry enlisted Peter Richardson and William Klassen to raise the necessary one half million. When Anatol retired prematurely (at age 72!) from the directorship of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, and returned to Toronto, Terry persuaded him to start the program and be the first director and Professor of Peace Studies. Rapoport, though a most celebrated scholar, agreed to teach and manage the peace studies program for nothing, and accept only the modest fees paid to sessional appointees for individual courses taught. Terry also brought Anatol into Science for Peace as a member, then Board member, and as President, in May 1984.

Terry was also a promoter of the monthly Science for Peace lectures at the U of T. He was passionate about getting the best lecturers in peace issues to make contact with the public and with students.

Terry, as the Education Director of Science for Peace attended the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition interested in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

What did Terry do to maintain his energy for peace work? Connie thinks the bicycle and the music were two ways he coped. Their trips took them throughout Ontario, to Montreal, Prince Edward Island, Austria, France, Maine, wherever the bike routes were in beautiful countryside.

His personal work habits are not ones to copy, his desk was a mess, he eschewed electronic media as long as he could and he left 40 papers unpublished. His interest was not in personal advancement or accolades. Getting credit was not important.

Connie recalls one high point in Terry’s life. He heard retired US General Lee Butler speak on the Cold War and of how horrified he (Butler) was by what he had learned through serving as a high-ranking officer. Butler thanked the peace movement for keeping the issues alive so people were informed and ready to respond.

It was on the internet pages of US Space Command that Terry found the decoded language of Vision 2020 and the long range plan for US space dominance. Terry related this to CNANW and to the Department of Foreign Affairs who took his material. Not many weeks later, as a result of much campaigning, Canadian support for Missile Defense was rejected in Canada.

To his longtime friend, Derek Paul, Terry had a natural dignity and was the epitome of “See, hear, or think no evil” of anyone.

There are things we can learn from Terry’s life: don’t worry about who gets the credit, just do it; connect with friends and mentors; never give up; don’t waste time stewing, just get busy; push the limits if you must; find a good soul mate, enjoy singing and whistling, wearing your old cap and bicycling, take time for wine, whiskey and good food.

I would add: renew your membership in one of the best peace and justice groups around. Terry would like that.

A shorter version was first published in Peace Magazine.