Gardner L. Boothe

Gardner L. Boothe (1872–1964)

Gardner L. Boothe was a Democratic Party leader in Alexandria for more than fifty years. Born in that city in 1872, he studied law at the University of Virginia in 1893 and opened a law practice. Boothe became Alexandria's city attorney in 1897 and five years later was elected a member of the Democratic Party's State Central Committee. That same year he was selected chairman of the Eighth District Committee, a position he held until 1952. Boothe aligned himself with the state's conservative establishment, backing stalwarts Harry F. Byrd Sr. and Howard W. Smith, including in their opposition to civil rights legislation. A member of the state's old guard, he presided over Alexandria's First National Bank for forty-six years and took an active role in local business, civic, and religious affairs. He died in Alexandria in 1964. MORE...

 

Gardner Lloyd Boothe was born on June 1, 1872, in Alexandria, the son of William Jeremiah Boothe, a businessman, and Mary Leadbeater Boothe. After receiving an education in private schools and reading law under a local attorney, he entered the University of Virginia in 1892. Boothe graduated with a law degree the next year and opened a legal practice in Alexandria. On February 7, 1906, he married Eleanor Harrison Carr, of Petersburg. The elder of their two sons, Armistead L. Boothe, became a prominent state legislator.

Boothe took an active role in Alexandria's political, business, civic, and religious affairs. He became president of the First National Bank in 1909 and retained that position for forty-six years. Boothe served on the boards of directors of the Washington Gas Light Company, the Virginia Electric and Power Company, and the Potomac Electric and Power Company. In 1895 he was elected to the vestry of Christ Church, the city's oldest Episcopal church, and served fifty-eight years. From 1916 to 1956 he was a trustee of Alexandria's Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary (or Virginia Theological Seminary) and of the Protestant Episcopal Education Society in Virginia. A member of the standing committee of the Diocese of Virginia, Boothe was also a trustee of the Episcopal High School in Alexandria and of Woodberry Forest School near Orange. He promoted various civic and charity endeavors in Alexandria, including service on the advisory board of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union from 1935 until 1963.

By the first decade of the twentieth century Boothe was at the center of a group of local leaders who virtually ran Alexandria's political life. He was also a principal figure in his congressional district's politics and from that base became one of the strongest party leaders in northern Virginia, with prominence at the state level. In 1897 Boothe became city attorney, and in 1902 he was elected a member of the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party and chairman of the Eighth District Committee. For the next fifty years he chaired the Eighth District Committee, resigning in 1952 after reapportionment placed Alexandria in the new Tenth District. During that time Boothe was aligned with the dominant faction of the state party, headed after the mid-1920s by Harry F. Byrd. Boothe was campaign chairman in 1930 for the first of Howard W. Smith's seventeen successful congressional campaigns. On March 6, 1948, Boothe introduced resolutions at a meeting of the state central committee that both roundly condemned Harry S. Truman's civil rights policies and supported Governor William M. Tuck's unsuccessful attempt to keep the president's name off the ballot in Virginia. The resolutions passed unanimously and urged Virginia's congressmen to oppose proposals for new civil rights legislation.

Boothe's law practice thrived, and in 1952 he became the senior partner in the firm of Boothe, Dudley, Koontz, and Boothe. More than a decade after Boothe's death he was remembered for his characterization of the Virginia gentleman as someone who walked his horse the last mile home, never crushed the mint in his julep, and always sliced his ham very thin. Boothe died at his home in Alexandria on May 3, 1964, after a long illness and was buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria.

Time Line

  • June 1, 1872 - Gardner L. Boothe is born in Alexandria, the son of William Jeremiah Boothe and Mary Leadbeater Boothe.
  • 1892–1893 - Gardner L. Boothe attends the University of Virginia and graduates with a law degree, after which he opens a practice in Alexandria.
  • 1895–1953 - Gardner L. Boothe is elected to and serves on the vestry of Christ Church, Alexandria's oldest Episcopal church.
  • 1897 - Gardner L. Boothe becomes city attorney of Alexandria.
  • 1902 - Gardner L. Boothe is elected a member of the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party and chairman of the Eighth District Committee.
  • February 7, 1906 - Gardner L. Boothe and Eleanor Harrison Carr, of Petersburg, marry. They will have two sons.
  • 1909–1955 - Gardner L. Boothe serves as president of the First National Bank.
  • 1916–1956 - Gardner L. Boothe is a trustee of Alexandria's Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary (or Virginia Theological Seminary) and of the Protestant Episcopal Education Society in Virginia.
  • 1930 - Gardner L. Boothe is campaign chairman for the first of Howard W. Smith's seventeen successful congressional campaigns.
  • 1935–1963 - Gardner L. Boothe serves on the advisory board of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union.
  • March 6, 1948 - Gardner L. Boothe introduces resolutions at a meeting of the state central committee that both roundly condemns Harry S. Truman's civil rights policies and supported Governor William Munford Tuck's unsuccessful attempt to keep the president's name off the ballot in Virginia.
  • 1952 - Gardner L. Boothe becomes the senior partner in the firm of Boothe, Dudley, Koontz, and Boothe.
  • May 5, 1964 - Gardner L. Boothe dies in his home in Alexandria after a long illness. He is buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria.

References

Further Reading
Dierenfield, Bruce J. Keeper of the Rules: Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987.
Heinemann, Ronald L. Harry Byrd of Virginia. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996.
Hershman, James H., Jr. "Boothe, Gardner Lloyd." In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 2, edited by Sara B. Bearss, et al., 94–95. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2001.
Smith, Douglas. "'When Reason Collides with Prejudice': Armistead Lloyd Boothe and the Politics of Desegregation in Virginia, 1948–1963." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 102, no. 1 (January 1994): 5–46.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Hershman, J. H., Jr., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Gardner L. Boothe (1872–1964). (2017, August 30). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Boothe_Gardner_Lloyd_1872-1964.

  • MLA Citation:

    Hershman, James H., Jr. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Gardner L. Boothe (1872–1964)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 30 Aug. 2017. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: May 29, 2013 | Last modified: August 30, 2017


Contributed by James H. Hershman Jr. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. James H. Hershman Jr. is a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.