Sam Breeding Gardner

June 8, 1934-Nov. 19, 2021


Sam Breeding Gardner passed from this life of sorrow, on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. His departure was from Saint Thomas-Rutherford Hospital, in Murfreesboro, and followed a very brief, but precipitous, illness.

Sam, who most recently was enjoying his retirement from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, was a longtime member of the Cole’s Chapel Community, though, of-late, he was residing in Sparta following the sale of his home.

Preceding Sam’s passing were his wife, Margaret Alberta Wilhite Gardner, and, their son, Sam Kirk Gardner.

Born in 1934 on June 8, Sam had accumulated 87 years of life on the afternoon of his passing.

Beginning life in the midst of the “Great Depression,” Sam’s    challenging youth was no impediment to his living a colorful and eventful life. In 1950, as America shouldered the burden of resisting communist aggression on the Korean Peninsula, Sam, a freshly minted U.S. Navy sailor, eagerly entered the struggle as a crewman on board a naval frigate patrolling the coast of North Korea and exchanging artillery gunfire with enemy shore batteries! Quite a change for a Sparta boy from rural, Middle Tennessee! Later he earned a technical rating while on board the U.S.S. Dixie as a Dental Implement Technician, a skill he would hone and pursue throughout life.

Upon the completion of his naval service, Sam sought and   obtained a position with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. His decades of service witnessed him participate in quelling the Memphis Race Riots and appearing in other “Hot Spots” around the state. Later, he served as detachment supervisor for an elite cadre of troopers tasked with providing protective service and transport of then-Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. He retired with the rank of sergeant, serving as a field supervisor in Cookeville’s 6th District.

Survivors include Nathan Gardner, grandson; Sarah Gardner Simmons, granddaughter; Mrs. Kirk Gardner (Sharon), daughter-in-law; nieces and nephews; and a multitude of friends.

Services will be 2 p.m., Nov. 24, 2021, from the Chapel of Thurman Funeral Home, with family visitation 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Nov. 24, at the funeral home.

Edward Wilhite and Capt. R.C. Christian, THP, will direct the service. Burial will be in Elrod Cemetery with his wife and son.

Thurman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.