Public memorial service for former Gov. Booth Gardner set for Saturday in Tacoma

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TACOMA — The memorial service Saturday in Tacoma for former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner is open to the public.

The University of Puget Sound’s Memorial Fieldhouse opens at 10 a.m.

Organizers said the Rev. David Alger will officiate and Gov. Jay Inslee will present flags that were flown at half-staff on the state Capitol campus in Gardner’s honor. Former Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who both worked for Gardner, will speak.

The TVW public-affairs network will provide live coverage. He died March 15 at his Tacoma home from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

Gardner served two terms as governor. During his tenure, he pushed for standards-based education reform, issued an executive order banning discrimination against gay and lesbian state workers, banned smoking in state workplaces, and appointed the state’s first minority to the state Supreme Court. The state’s Basic Health Care program for the poor was launched in 1987 and was the first of its kind in the country.

Gardner announced his plan for a ballot measure to allow assisted suicide in 2006 as he continued to battle Parkinson’s.

Washington state had already rejected a similar assisted suicide initiative in 1991, but after a contentious campaign, where Gardner contributed $470,000 of his own money of the $4.9 million raised in support of the measure, nearly 58 percent of voters approved the new law in 2008.