New Space Offers Informative Displays on Former N.C. Governor and His Wife, Fay Webb Gardner

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Two entities that have former North Carolina Governor, O. Max Gardner, as their namesake are pleased to announce a new partnership. The first week in March 2020, the office of the O. Max Gardner Foundation Inc. moved from Shelby, N.C., into a home in Boiling Springs owned by Gardner-Webb University. The new location at 1410 College Ave. was endowed to the University by Dr. and Mrs. Dan Moore.

“I wanted the Foundation to be more associated geographically with Gardner-Webb University,” shared O. Max Gardner III, Gov. Gardner’s grandson and president of the Foundation. “I think this relocation will benefit the University and the Foundation and also confirm the historical relationship between the two institutions. I hope more students from Gardner-Webb, prospective students and their families, and just folks in this area will want to come and learn more about the Gardner and Webb families. Our hope is to enhance the Gardner-Webb Community and Boiling Springs in general.”
The new location is more than office space, explained Gardner, who also serves on the GWU Board of Trustees. “We have a lot of historical documents and display boards with different events in Gov. Gardner’s life. We will also explain who the Webb is in Gardner-Webb with the help of Natalie Bishop (associate dean of the GWU library). Mother Fay (Gov. Gardner’s wife) was just as influential in giving financial and moral support to Gardner-Webb as Governor Gardner. She had a lot to do with their initial support for what was then called Boiling Springs Junior College.”

Bishop will create the displays on Mrs. Gardner from a collection of scrapbooks, personal papers and genealogical materials that are archived at the GWU Library. Formed in 1942, the O. Max Gardner Foundation is a fully non-profit and tax-exempt entity that carries on the legacy of Gov. Gardner by providing financial support to any institution devoted to charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes. The two primary institutions that have benefited from the financial support of the Foundation are Gardner-Webb University, which was saved from a financial death by the support of the governor and his wife, and the Consolidated University of North Carolina System, which was created when Gov. Gardner pushed through the legislation during the Great Depression.

The Foundation also supports the O. Max Gardner award, presented annually since 1949 to a faculty member in the Consolidated University of North Carolina System. Established by the governor’s will, the award is the oldest, most distinctive statewide honor given by the System’s Board of Governors.

The historical display is a work-in-progress and will also include a section to honor the former owners of the home, Dan and Bettye Moore, longtime supporters of Gardner-Webb. A GWU alumnus, Dan was in public education for more than 30 years. After retiring as principal from Shelby High School, he served his alma mater in various positions, including athletic director, faculty member, administrator, baseball coach and a member of the Board of Trustees. In 1990, he and his wife endowed the Daniel W. and Bettye A. Moore Scholarship to provide financial assistance to worthy and/or needy full-time students. He died in 1998 and the same year was posthumously awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Gardner-Webb. Bettye, who was also a teacher, was appointed to serve as a trustee in his place. Before her death in 2015, she served several years as a trustee and was named a trustee emerita.
Learn more about Fay Webb Gardner from the GWU Library Archives.
Oliver Max Gardner (1882-1947) was a politician, businessman, and lawyer of Shelby, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C. He was elected a North Carolina state senator in 1910 and 1915, lieutenant governor in 1916, and was governor from 1929 to 1933. He also served as Under Secretary of the United States Treasury and as Ambassador to Great Britain under the Truman Administration. For more information about O. Max Gardner and the Foundation, visit: and

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