Orange County native
After his father passed away, Judson Morgan Gardner moved to his grandfather’s farm with his mother and brother. He graduated from Orange County High School, He was president of his senior class, a member of the baseball team and the rifle squad.
Judson, known as "Bugs," built gliders in Orange, Baltimore and Winston-Salem before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps for four years. He served as a transport pilot and glider pilot.
A life in Orange
Bugs Gardner met Elaine Bray while home on leave and they later married. In 1963, they built their home in Orange. They had three sons, Jud, Doug and Roger. Bugs was active in Scouting, Boosters Club (youth baseball coach), Country-Town Pool and Rotary. He also supported the local soapbox derby competition.
In 1964, Mr. and Mrs. Gardner joined Orange Presbyterian Church. The Youth program and happy associations with earlier ministers -- Dr. Stribling and Dick Taylor -- all had a part in drawing them to OPC.
Bugs received his B.S. in Architecture from U.VA and went to work for Russell Bailey. In 1968, he became a partner in Bailey and Gardner and participated in the design of our new sanctuary in 1971.
A life in the church
Bugs Gardner served on the Board of Deacons, and as Chairman, at OPC. He also served as an Elder and was a Trustee for the church. His fair-mindedness was a wonderful asset to the church.
In 1987, Bugs was employed by OPC to draw plans for renovations and additions of the old Sanctuary and the Sunday School, after considering the recommendations of the Plant Study Committee.
Elaine Gardner joined the Women of the Church. For many years, she took responsibility overseeing the decorating of the Sanctuary for the Candlelight Service. She also worked as the church secretary.
Renee Chamberlain and Elaine were both top seamstresses and enjoyed working together designing and sewing garments and having “showings."
A lasting legacy
In 1995, some of the women of OPC made a quilt top to commemorate the Church’s sesquicentennial (150th). Elaine was part of the committee that constructed this masterpiece. Bugs drew the designs, which were enlarged for use as patterns.
Elaine passed away February 2015 and Bugs in July 2017. They are survived by their sons and their wives: Judson M. Gardner, Jr. and Jackie of Lynchburg, Douglas Alan Gardner and Patrice of Chesapeake, Roger W. Gardner and Linda of Richmond. Also, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The Gardners’ devotion and dedication to OPC played an important part in our history.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team