Madeira says good-bye to friend, painter

August 20, 2013
At the age of 70, Gardner is still a competitive racquet ball player

Since the age of 16, Eddie Gardner has spent his summers painting the classrooms and buildings at Madeira. This September, Eddie will put away his brushes and ladders for good as he retires after 54 years.

The Gardner-Madeira connection dates back to the early 1940s, when Eddie’s grandfather, Charles Gardner, received a call from the school for an estimate to paint the buildings. Charles and his brother Kenneth were hired to paint all the trim of the buildings for $975 – a generous sum in those days. Eddie’s father and his uncles continued working the Madeira account, and eventually Eddie went into the business himself retaining the Madeira account.

As a teenager, Eddie would walk up Route 193 (now Georgetown Pike) from his family’s farm in Great Falls to the Madeira campus gate with only a handful of cars passing by. He and his family worked hard to build their business. Eddie has had a successful career as a contracted painter in the area. His company has had a busy schedule all over Great Falls and McLean with the summer months reserved for the school.

“I love Madeira,” commented Eddie in an interview. “My customers know that they have to wait until summer is over to get their jobs done. Regardless of any other contract work I’ve had, this school has been my number one priority.”

Because Eddie and his crew are gone by the time the students return to campus, most of the alumnae do not know him, but the campus residents and staff are sad to see him go. “We are going to miss having Eddie on campus,” says Director of Admission Ann Miller who has known Eddie since she started 12 years ago. “He possesses so much institutional knowledge: not just about the buildings and grounds, but about the school in general. His stories could entertain us for days.”

After his retirement in September, Eddie and his wife, Judy, plan to split their time between their home in Loudoun, where they have lived for 28 years of their 38-year marriage, and Florida, where they enjoy dancing, going to the beach, and, for him, playing racquet ball.

The school will honor Eddie for his years of service at their annual Faculty and Staff Picnic on August 26.