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Dr. William Gardiner
Dr. Gardiner, a chemistry professor at the University of Texas, broke his neck in a bicycle crash on 11-14-00 and died a few days later. The Statesman reported that he hit a metal cover in the road (the kind that covers construction). We don't know anything beyond what the Statesman reported, below.


Chemist, cyclist, lover of life: Admirers recall UT's Gardiner
William Gardiner 1933-2000

 
BYLINE: Ben Wear, American-Statesman Staff
DATE: 11-21-2000
PUBLICATION: The Austin American-Statesman
PAGE: B1
 
Bill Gardiner often taught a course at the University of Texas on thermodynamics, which is all about heat and energy and movement. So was he. Gardiner, who spent most waking hours in recent years working in UT's chemistry department or bicycling, died Friday after a bike ride home from work ended in a headlong pitch to a downtown Austin street. He was 67.
 
"Bill Gardiner was a great teacher," UT President Larry Faulkner said Monday. Faulkner knows firsthand; he took a course in statistical mechanics from Gardiner as a chemistry student at UT in the late 1960s.
 
"It was maybe the single best-taught course I ever took," said Faulkner, who through the rest of his graduate studies audited every course Gardiner taught.
 
Faulkner and others Monday also recalled Gardiner's devilish sense of humor. Faulkner remembers talking to him as one of Gardiner's numerous books was nearing print, one that Faulkner as a student had helped vet. Gardiner said the book would include thanks to him for his help.
 
"You're acknowledged as one of those `too numerous to mention,' " Faulkner said Gardiner told him.
 
Friends, family, colleagues and former students will remember Gardiner -- a world expert on combustion chemistry, a sexagenarian soccer player, a rain-or-shine bicycle commuter and a tough-love teacher -- at a service at 2 p.m. today at St. Stephen's Episcopal School, 2900 Bunny Run. Gardiner is survived by his wife, chemist Regina Monaco; his ex-wife, Gertraut Schimanski Gardiner; and daughters Charlotte Gardiner of Austin, Amy Chanmugam of Austin and Grace Baker of Houston.
 
Gardiner broke his neck about 10 p.m. Nov. 14 when he fell from his bike while riding south on Guadalupe Street at Sixth Street. David Adcock, a professor and colleague at UT, said Gardiner remained alert for most of the next two days in intensive care until his death Friday morning. Gardiner, Adcock said, lost control of his bike when his tires hit a metal plate used to cover one of the road excavations around downtown. He was thrown over the handlebars.
 
A city police report takes note of the bicycle accident at Sixth and Guadalupe but doesn't mention how the accident happened. Matthew Kite, assistant director of the city's public works department, said he hadn't heard of the accident but that his department would investigate as soon as it receivesd a report from police.
 
Gardiner, a Niagara Falls, N.Y., native, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in 1954 and later got his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University. He joined the UTniversity of Texas chemistry department in 1960 and was still teaching and doing research there until his death.
 
"He wasn't looking at retirement at all, no way," said Ruth Shear, a UT chemistry lecturer.
 
He had a reputation among students as anything but an easy A and among his peers as a brilliant and versatile scientist.
 
"His classes were well-known for being hard," Shear said. "He didn't pull any punches. . . . Yet a lot of the students, they would say he really cares; he really tries to get you through it."
 
His informal office hours, Shear said, were "1 p.m. to 1 a.m."
 
As for his professional accomplishments, a partial list: two Fulbright scholarships, the three definitive texts on the chemistry of combustion, a Humboldt fellowship, numerous published articles in leading scientific journals.
 
Away from the lab, Gardiner was a unique specimen of a senior citizen. He played weekend soccer for the Lazers club and would cross the country to participate in long-distance bicycle races. He cycled Texas, too, including an annual 150-mile ride from Houston to Austin. Adcock remembers that a couple of years ago, Gardiner bicycled to College Station for a seminar. And he commuted by bicycle every day to his home in far South Austin. Gardiner and another professor, Adcock said, were using some of their spare time in recent months trying to design better bicycle lights.
 
At 67, his friends say, Gardiner died young.
 
"Even though he looked like an old man, he was one of the most youthful people I knew," Shear said. "He was full of life."You may contact Ben Wear at bwear@statesman.com or 445-3627. `Bill Gardiner was a great teacher. . . . It was maybe the single best- taught course I ever took.'UT President Larry Faulkner, who took one of Gardiner's courses in the 1960s.
 
Illustrations/Photos: COLOR PHOTO, PHOTO; Photo: Rodolfo Gonzalez/AA-S; Metal plates covering road construction pose a nuisance for drivers -- and a hazard for cyclists such as William Gardiner, who was killed Nov. 14 when he hit one of the plates and was thrown from his bicycle as he commuted home from the University of Texas to far South Austin. // William Gardiner started teaching chemistry at UT in 1960 and became known as an exacting and dedicated instructor with a good measure of energy and wit.
 
© The Austin American-Statesman




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