CONCHE, NL – The Town of Conche was shocked to learn of the sudden passing of their deputy mayor, Bernard (Bernie) Gardiner, on Oct. 28.
Gardiner dedicated much of his life to serving the town.
The Northern Pen spoke with Mayor Charlene McGrath and Councillor Paul Hunt about just what their colleague brought to the town.
Since 1990, Gardiner served in various capacities on Conche’s council. From 1990 to 1992, he was deputy mayor, and then served as mayor from 1995 to 1998.
With breaks in between from 2003 to this year, he served on council for another 11 years and was named deputy mayor once again in October, before his passing.
McGrath remembers the advocate Gardiner was for the town in those years.
“His commitment to the town was admirable,” she said. “He had a genuine interest in wanting to see Conche do well.
“He actively advocated to keep our school open when the decision was looming to close it. He was a key player in getting a second-hand pumper truck for our fire department, and he greatly supported the recent plan to move our fire hall to the former Sacred Heart School location.”
McGrath said Gardiner always attended town functions, and worked to improve the town’s infrastructure and roads.
Hunt worked with Gardiner for three terms on council, as well as the harbour authority and local fire brigade.
In fact, Hunt says he was on the harbour authority with Gardiner from its very beginning.
He’s well aware of just how much “Bernie” brought to Conche.
“Bernie was all there for Conche and anything that could make it better, he was there for, no doubt about it,” said Hunt. “Whether it was the fire brigade, the harbour authority, or the council.
He had nothing but the best interests for the town.
“Anything that Bernie was on, if he had an idea, he wasn’t shy to put it forward. He was pretty outspoken.”
Hunt says Gardiner was the “best kind” to work with and disagreements never bothered him.
“You couldn’t get no better – if you never agreed with him, that didn’t make any difference,” he explained. “When you met up with the next time, he still had the big grin on his face. There was no grudges held or any of that.”
Hunt also remembers Gardiner as a fisherman, someone who was involved in darts, hockey and other sports, and most of all a good family man.
“He was a fine feller,” he said.
McGrath says Gardiner’s contribution to the town over the years has not gone unnoticed.
“We will continue to persevere with the same dedication and commitment as he had and ensure a bright sustainable future for the town of Conche, just as he wanted,” she said.
“Bernie will definitely be missed at the council table and in the community.”