A memorial on the corner of Montagu Street and Lockwood Boulevard commemorates 64-year-old Edwin Gardner, a cycling and rowing enthusiast.
July 29, 2010
In tribute to Edwin Gardner, a man truly about town
WRITTEN BY Stephanie Hunt
Charleston lost one of its gems last week when activist Edwin Gardner died after he was hit by a car as he biked his way home from a morning row on the Ashley. Just who was Edwin? A man you couldn’t help noticing if you crossed paths at any one of his many haunts—art openings, committee meetings, Spoleto gigs, the library, the marina, Fast & French, Circular Congregational Church, Blue Bicycle Books…. He stood out because of his theatrical mannerisms, dapper attire, fantastic impressions, outrageously loud smile, and for his frequent (and spunky) sidekick, daughter Olive. While you first noticed Edwin for his physical stature, you quickly realized that his true stature had little to do with that lanky build of his and everything to do with his broad intellect and his deep and wide passions.
Edwin was a man about town in the best sense of the phrase. He was about making this town and this region, a better, safer, healthier place to live. He believed in community, in civic engagement. Edwin, alongside wife Whitney Powers, was an advocate for smart urban growth and design. He believed that Charleston should and could be pedestrian- and bike-friendly; that public schools—especially those downtown—should offer exceptional educational opportunities to all children; that empowering kids to build boats and row together as a crew could change their lives. As Tom Bradford of the bicycle advocacy group Charleston Moves put it, Edwin “lived as he believed. He lived a very considered life.” Many were stunned to learn he was 64 because he lived like he were half that age.
Edwin, who served as president of the Harleston Village Neighborhood Association, was on the Peninsula Task Force’s transportation committee and often at school board meetings, was wildly creative, robustly curious, and enormously enthusiastic. He was not afraid to ruffle feathers, or, if need be, raise hell. Even if you didn’t agree with him, you were smitten by his verve, his smarts, and his wit. As local author and Blue Bicycle Books owner Jonathan Sanchez wrote in a City Paper tribute this week, “He never said a dull thing.” And as Mayor Riley told The Post and Courier, “If he was in your neighborhood, you had a better neighborhood; if you knew him, you had a better life.”
This Saturday morning, friends, family, and community members will celebrate and honor Edwin’s life by doing one of the many things he loved to do: bike ride around the peninsula. Bicyclists of all ages and abilities will meet at Cannon Park (Calhoun Street between Rutledge and Ashley avenues) at 9 a.m. for a police-escorted, easy ride around town, staying south of the Crosstown. Helmets and everyday street clothes are encouraged. Come enjoy the streets of Charleston as Edwin did, on two wheels, and help champion his vision for a safe, bicycle-friendly community.
For more information on Saturday’s ride, click here.
For more information on Charleston Moves, click here.
For more information on the Charleston Bicycle Friendly Community Task Force, click here.
To read Jonathan Sanchez’s tribute to Edwin in Charleston City Paper, click here.
To read a blog post about the New Charleston Mosquito Fleet, a youth mentoring program Edwin was involved in, including a letter to the author from him, click here.
To learn more about the Mosquito Fleet or to row with the crew, contact Rob Dunlap at firstname.lastname@example.org.