Born in Ireland, Gardner graduated from Trinity College in Dublin. He earned a master’s in mathematics from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton in 1953.
A geophysicist by profession and a mathematician by training, Gardner taught at the Carnegie Institute, Rice University, and the University of Houston, among others. For more than 20 years, he was a seismologist for a subsidiary of Gulf Oil Corp.
Gardner was a formidable social activist, particularly on behalf of women’s rights. In 1969, a complaint filed with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations against The Pittsburgh Press contended that dividing the newspaper’s ads into male and female help-wanted sections resulted in discrimination against women. In support of the complaint, Gardner statistically estimated the pay differentials. The newspaper lost, and the case went up to the Supreme Court, which ruled against gender-designated ad columns for most jobs.
Gardner’s only immediate survivor is Jo Ann, his wife since 1950.
Graduate memorials are prepared by the APGA.