SPRINGVILLE — Often troubled former Utah County Commissioner David Gardner died Tuesday.
Gardner, 58, served two terms on the commission from 1995-2002. A cause of death was not listed in his obituary.
Gov. Gary Herbert served alongside Gardner on the three-member panel.
At Gardner's last commission meeting in December 2002, Herbert called him a good friend and said few people knew how educated, kind and talented he was. He described him as an expert on health and human services in the state.
Gardner many times paid out of his own pocket the bills of financially strapped taxpayers who came to the commission, Herbert said.
"He's a human being who has a sensitive heart. I've seen him sit and listen to someone's troubles when he himself had enough trouble to fill a lifetime," Herbert said at the time.
The governor reiterated that sentiment in a statement Thursday, saying he was saddened to learn of Gardner's passing.
"At his best, he was a kind, talented and dedicated public servant. Jeanette and I extend our sympathy and heartfelt condolences to members of the Gardner family at this difficult time. May they find peace and consolation," he said.
During and after his time as a commissioner, Gardner faced a series of alcohol-related legal problems.
Gardner was arrested in March 1999 after he ran his car off the road and then tried to put out a resulting grass fire with his feet.
He told police he had one drink of vodka with lunch and accepted a sip of a drink from a hitchhiker he had picked up earlier. Tests revealed Gardner's blood-alcohol levels were at or above the legal limit.
He was charged with a class B misdemeanor for driving under the influence of alcohol, but the charge was later dismissed on a technicality.
In October 2000, Gardner was arrested for DUI again. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of DUI, theft and driving with an open container and served two days on a Utah County Jail work detail, paid a fine and served probation.
"I made some stupid decisions," Gardner said as he left office in 2002. "I screwed up, and I've paid the price for it in spades, but I can look anybody in the eye and say it never affected my ability to do my job or my commitment to the job."
In 2007, he was charged with sexual battery for grabbing and fondling the inner thigh of a 26-year-old woman he had just met. He pleaded no contest to class B misdemeanor assault and was placed on probation and ordered not to drink alcohol.
Gardner was ordered to spend 74 days in jail for violating his probation and driving without an interlock device, driving with a revoked or suspended license and driving with an expired registration in 2009.
Before he was elected to the commission, Gardner was employed as the treatment coordinator for adult psychiatry at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. He also was a licensed as a marriage and family therapist until the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing placed him on probation in December 2002 for unprofessional conduct. He later voluntarily surrendered his license.
Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Wheeler Mortuary, 211 E. 200 South, Springville. There is no public viewing. A graveside service will be held in Hyde Park, Cache County, at 3 p.m. Saturday.
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