A Tribute To My Father On His Birthday

USAF Chief's Induction Ceremony with Lee Gartner, Andrews AFB 2003

Today marks the birthday of my late father, Ernest Lee Gartner. If he were still around he would be 99 years old today. Much of my passion and drive stems from the life and business lessons I learned from my father. In this special post, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on his influence in my life that has helped make me into the person I am today.

My father was a kindhearted, stubborn, difficult, witty, and an amazingly savvy businessman. My dad gave me his strong points and showed me the blueprint for how to be successful: including a strong work ethic and instilling within me the belief that I can achieve whatever it is that I desire.

I learned from his example and internalized his high expectations. He went to work every day until the day he died. Some people might have called him a workaholic, but he never gave anything less than 100% to his job. He has handed down his natural leadership abilities, which have helped me achieve a number of career “firsts” while I was in the Air Force, and ultimately reach the top enlisted position as the first female Command Chief of a premier Air Force unit.

What I learned from my father that made me a better person was his example of always trying to learn more. He was invested in self-improvement and always read books, magazines and newspapers. This was a great influence growing up and helped me put ongoing time into learning. Ask questions when you don’t understand something and don’t be afraid to seek out more information. Looking back, researching solutions to problems was a completely natural process for me thanks to my father’s example.

My father taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to and that anything worth doing is worth doing well. It’s great advice I still live by today. His example made a lasting impact on me and I have to credit him for my constant quest for knowledge and excellence.

My father’s greatest gift to me was the drive to persevere. He taught me courage in the face of adversity, more than any other human being I have ever met. Lee Gartner successfully navigated Reed Brothers Dodge through numerous Chrysler setbacks, including the first Chrysler Bailout, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler, and the sale to the private equity firm Cerberus. He applied his 30+ years experience with Reed Brothers to meet the challenges of gasoline shortages, high interest rates, severe inflation, and weakening consumer confidence which drove Chrysler into financial crisis. This survival is testimony that he not only conquered setbacks, but often rebounded to reach new levels of success. He was a hard worker, he was the type that persevered.

I will always remember my dad as a successful businessman whose persistent energy was always there for family, but in equal measure for the public he served. He was smart and also honest and dependable – characteristics that kept Reed Brothers Dodge at the pinnacle of auto dealerships throughout his career.

I never had a chance to tell my dad how much I admired him, but I remain proud of him and his accomplishments. Lee Gartner continued what Lewis Reed built from the ground up and helped make Reed Brothers Dodge into a successful family business that lasted almost a century.

My dad set a standard of excellence and provided a set of values for my life that I still follow today. Dad, this is for you.. Happy Birthday!

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

2 responses to “A Tribute To My Father On His Birthday”

  1. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Hello Again , Jeanne Gartner,
    As always I enjoy your posting to this “blog” , but today’s post is especially fine. Your remembrance and praise for your father is priceless. What Lee Gartner taught you stood you in good stead throughout your remarkable life and career. I am sorry you did not make the opportunity to thank your father for these gifts while he lived , but somehow I think he knew of your appreciation of his many skills and for the life lessons he gave to you. I too failed to thank my father and mother adequately for all they did for me. It is most important to convey these thoughts and sentiments to influential persons in our lives when they are alive. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well” is one of my favorite sayings , even though it often leads to frustration with failure to meet the standard. You have met the standard today, Sincerely Jonathan (Jack) Richards in cold and snowy Chesterfield, Missouri.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hello Jonathan Richards. So sorry for the late reply. It’s been a crazy few months! It’s pretty amazing that the advice I’ve gotten from both of my parents has stuck with me over the years. Thank you for stopping by… I always appreciate your comments and hearing your feedback.

      Kindest Regards,

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