‘She’s a tough gal’
104-year-old resident still strong and healthy
In 1912, the Titanic sank, Woodrow Wilson won the United States presidency and Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki gave 3,000 cherry blossom trees for planting in Washington, D.C. In that same year, one of Charles County’s oldest citizens was born. Eleanore Ann Gardner celebrated her 104th birthday on Sept. 20, and she said she feels great.
“I promised her last year that the county would recognize her birthday every year, as long as I am a commissioner,” said Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D). “She will no doubt outlast me.”
Eleanore was born in Washington, D.C., in 1912 to a banker (her father) and a district building employee (her mother). She grew up to become a secretary/executive assistant and office manager at various companies including National Geographic and the college fraternity Phi Gamma Delta
and its educational foundation, which she helped run for many years. She lived in the district for 68 years before moving to Newburg.
Eleanore lives with her son, John Wesley Gardner, 80, and his wife on Bank O’Dee Road. Their family property in Newburg dates back to 1870. The farm house has since been remodeled by John and his wife. The property is uniquely covered in oyster shells and sits closely on Cuckold Creek, where it meets the Potomac River.
“It’s pretty cool having my mother live this long, and the joke is that she’s probably going to outlive us all,” John said.
Eleanore lives a simple life and still has her impeccable sense of humor. She enjoys sitting outside watching the water, trees, birds and listening to the sounds of nature. Eleanor also enjoys listening to National Public Radio.
“My wife and I had taken over the house in Newburg while I was working in the music industry as a stage director and tour manager with celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Hendricks and other legendary musicians,” John said. “So when I came back to the D.C. area, we decided to come to Charles County and make this our home.”
Eleanore has outlived two husbands, her siblings and most of her own family members who lived into their 90s. She remembers living through World War I and World War II with her family, who are of Dutch descent. “She’s a tough gal,” John said. She loves living in Charles County and feels like her current home is the ideal house she would have built to retire in. Eleanore has made some changes in her life such as no longer smoking — she stopped at 100 years old — and has since tried to enjoy life on a daily basis.
She said turning 104 feels no different than being 103 years old.
“At 104 I feel pretty good,” Eleanore said. “I don’t have any aches or pains so I’m really very fortunate. I don’t think I have anything to do with why I lived this long. It’s all the man upstairs. There must be a reason for why He has kept me here this long.”
John describes his mother as “determined” and dogged about finishing a project or achieving a goal.
“She has a great sense of humor and grasps jokes quickly,” John said. “The next great stor y about her is yet to come. After all, she is only 104 years old.”
Eleanore Ann Gardner, 104, and her son John Gardner, 80, at their residence in Newburg.
Eleanore Ann Gardner, 104, sits outside her Newburg home and enjoys the view of Cuckold Creek on Sept. 27.