Priscilla Dodge Gardner
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HANOVER Priscilla Dodge Gardner was born February 24, 1923, and de parted peacefully from this world on Thursday, September 27, 2007. Her smile was as contagious as her positive outlook to every adventure life handed her. Those of us privileged to know this wonderful woman knew an inspirational, strong, and loving person. Priscilla grew up in BenAvon, Pa., always involved with school activities at Avonworth High, graduating in 1941. She continued her education at Carnegie-Mellon, graduating with a degree in Theater Arts in 1945. Pris' accomplishments throughout her life were many: WWII USO actress; performing offBroadway in the late 1940's; Director of trade shows for Gardner Associates in Pittsburgh; Artist Director of "Behold the Man", the first passion play featuring an all black cast staged in Atlanta, Ga., and Cincinnati, Ohio, during the turbulent 1960's; actress for Totem Pole Playhouse; Director for Littlestown School District's High School Musicals; and Founder and Artistic Director of the Bedford County Players at Gardner Memorial Theatre in Bedford. Pris ended her theatrical career in 1987 to concentrate on her fight against Parkinson's disease, a battle she waged for over 30 years. She was the loving and dedicated wife to Harry B. Gardner, Jr., who passed from this world in October 21, 1985. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother to daughter, Darlene Thomas and husband, M. Ted Thomas of Mechanicsburg, daughter, Heidi Little and husband, David Little of Hanover, and son, Timothy Gardner and wife, Mary Gardner of Deptford, N.J., and six grandchildren, Kayte Thomas, Ian Thomas, Brandon Thomas, Meghan Little, Thomas Gardner, and Allison Gardner. In lieu of flowers, Pris had requested donations for Parkinson's Research. Donations may be made to Johns Hopkins, Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence, 600 N. Wolfe St., Carnegie 214, Baltimore, MD 21287; or a donation may be made to the Homewood at Plum Creek's Benevolent Fund, Homewood at Plum Creek, Hanover. There will be a loving memorial service for Priscilla on Saturday, October 20, 2007, at 11:30 a.m. at Homewood at Plum Creek, 425 Westminster Ave., Hanover. Arrangements are by Auer Memorial Home and Cremation Services, Inc., Harrisburg.

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Published in Evening Sun from Sep. 30 to Oct. 1, 2007.
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7 entries
October 14, 2007
Gardner Family,

I share in your loss for a great woman. Your mother was one of the most influential people in my life. As a young boy, your mother gave me my first opportunity to "act" when she selected me over many other qualified boys to play the role of Winthrop in the “Music Man”. This was the beginning of a wonderful period in my life as “Music Man” led to “Showboat”, “Oliver”, “King and I”, “Carousel” and a few more that I can not remember. Your mother lit the spark within me that forever changed how I view the world. Although formal acting was not my final chosen profession, what I learned on the stage has aided me throughout my endeavors. I also want to thank the Gardner family for sharing your mother with so many of us. In some small way, we are all Pris' children. Her effects were profound and our respect and love for her was absolute. My prayers are with you and your families. May you find peace during this time in the knowledge that your mother was so many things to so many people.


Rob Lias (aka Winthrop)
Chesterfield, Virginia

1967 - 1975
Rob Lias
October 8, 2007
Darlene, Heidi and Tim,

I am so very sorry to hear that your mom has passed away. The online tribute by Chris Rawson doesn't quite come close to capturing her influence on so many of our generation. You and your families are in my thoughts and prayers. I'll never forget her.
Hank Howarth
October 4, 2007
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.
What a classy lady.
Much love from all the Rieblings.
We have so many fond memories.
Betsy Riebling
October 3, 2007
Darlene, Heidi and Tim,
It has been many years since we have been in contact and I regret that it is under these circumstances that we are in contact once again. I was so sorry to hear of the passing of your Mother. Your Mother touched so many lives both in and out of the theater.

Darlene, I think of you often when I hear The Rose by Bette Midler. You used that as a song for your wedding on that very hot summer day many years ago. Please know that you and your families are in Leister family thoughts.
Cindy (Leister) Kelly
October 3, 2007
Darlene, Heidi, Tim, and families--

Such memories come back of your mother and all of you, dating all the way back to 1967 and the mission trip to Cherokee! Remember your father's stint as cook and your mother's production of Noah and the Ark? Next came "Music Man" (I've got a redheaded grandson who would make a wonderful Winthrop) and then your mother's invitation to join the cast of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at the White Barn Theater in Irwin. All the trips to Forest Hills and Irwin for rehearsals with your mother in the driver's seat. I always got to sit in the front with my nose to the windshield, and she would be going on and on and on--typically oblivious to others on the road! Then there was "Showboat" (we called it "Slow Boat"--it did get long!). In between there were visits in your home--even while in college we had to check in with your mom from time to time and look through her scrapbooks. Your mother was such an important friend and mentor while I was struggling through adolescence. As I have worked with adolescents over the past 35 years, she has continued to be a role model for me, and I have such warm memories of her. So many people share your loss and I hope that provides some comfort. Blessings on you all! Love, Jim Ritchie

PS to Darlene--I get to Mechanicsburg to do some teaching at least once a year and will be there February 14-17 at First UMC.
Dr. James Ritchie
October 1, 2007
Hedi and Tim;

I am so sorry to hear the passing of your mother. I never someone who was always so positive as your mother was. May she rest in peace. Tim please feel free to email me anytime to check in...would love hearing from you.

Keith and Ruth Warehime
Keith Warehime
October 1, 2007
Dear Darlene, Heidi and Tim, I was sorry to hear that your mother had passed away. She was always so kind and funny to the kids in the neighborhood. I looked forward to playing at your house because your parents would take the time to talk to me and there was always something good cooking on the stove. Mrs. Gardner gave me my first taste of live theater with the North Star Players. She worked hard on those plays but you could tell that she loved every minute. My prayers are with you and your families. She was a great lady. Lisa George Weismann
Lisa Weismann
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