Gardner Baldwin of Vineyard Haven died of a heart attack, on Wednesday, September 7, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. A graveside service was held on Tuesday, September 13, in the Oak Grove Cemetery, State Road, Vineyard Haven.
Gardner was born March 22, 1951, in Montclair, New Jersey. He spent his childhood in New York, Boston, and Florida. As a child, he summered on Martha’s Vineyard, taking special pleasure in the time spent with “Nanny,” his grandmother Florence Macy. Gardner attended college in Indiana and Wisconsin but felt he “already knew all they had to teach” and left before graduating.
Gardner pursued a career as an actor and screenwriter. He worked on several movies and the TV series “VR Troopers.” Like many in the entertainment industry, he also worked many odd jobs, and he had success as an entrepreneur in the nightclub industry in Florida. At least one of his screenplays was made into a film many years after he wrote it.
Gardner returned to the Vineyard as a year-round resident in 1999. He quickly received a job offer from Bunch of Grapes Bookstore where he was a loyal and valued employee until just days before his untimely death. He was essential in the creation of the new store after the July 4 fire of 2008. Although Gardner primarily worked behind the scenes at Bunch of Grapes, he loved to stand in front of the store, smoking his ubiquitous cigarette and watching the flow of the seasons on Main Street. It was also at Bunch of Grapes that Gardner met Alaina Darr, his life partner.
Gardner was a lifelong student of baseball, politics, philosophy, and history. He subscribed to the Bill James Baseball Abstract when it began in 1977, and read every edition since then with enthusiasm and delight. He was a self-described Marxist and radical whose ideas were “just to the right of Fidel Castro.” He was convinced that reading and learning are active pursuits and immersed himself in both with zeal. His conversation and insights will be missed by his many friends.
Gardner is survived by his mother, Betty Gardner of Vineyard Haven; father, Donald Baldwin of Alexandria, Virginia; and Ms. Darr of Vineyard Haven; also his uncle, Procter Smith, and wife, Leigh, of Vineyard Haven; cousins Alison Smith Driscoll and J.P. Hitesman of Delaware; Pamela Brock of Massachusetts; and stepfather Frank Fuchs and his wife, Muriel, of Florida. He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him.