Donald Gardner, 87, executive director of the Philadelphia Clef Club
Sep 6, 2018
Donald Gardner, the executive director of the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, died on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. He was 87.
He was born on May 9, 1931 to the late Raymond and Naomi Gardner. He was educated in the Philadelphia public schools. Receiving no formal training in music, he had an innate musical ability and became an accomplished drummer and singer.
From 1946 to 1974, Gardner grew into a renowned recording artist. After releasing his third album, he created his own group, The Three Bachelors, renamed The Sonotones. He later teamed up with Dee Dee Ford, creating an unforgettable duet.
Gardner not only enjoyed success in the U.S., but also abroad where he toured with several artists. His success continued as a solo artist and while partnering with Baby Washington in the 1970s. He remained in music as an artist and repertoire (A&R) manager and night club owner into the 1980s.
Gardner became board president of the Clef Club in the early 1990s. The Clef Club was his passion project since its mission was to preserve the legacy of jazz and help young jazz musicians hone their skills.
During his time with the Clef Club, he served in a number of positions including executive director, president, operations manager and the facilities manager.
“Don was a fixture at the Clef Club and was known for his kind, yet no nonsense approach,” his family said in a tribute.
“He shared his talent, wisdom and vision with his musical family at the Clef Club every day possible, right up to the last days of his life.”
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Camilla Gardner; wife, Sally Gardner; son, Stuart Gardner; brothers, Maxwell and Leonard and sisters, Bernice and Geraldine.
He is survived by: his son, Darryl Baynes (Linda); daughter, Trina Reaves (Edmund); seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held Oct. 11 and Oct. 12 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, 738 S. Broad St.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be given to The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, 736-738 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146.