In Memoriam: Todd Gardner, Jerry H. Jeffery Jr., Harry Robertson and Don Worrell

Todd Gardner, 1930–2015

FFRF Life Member Todd Gardner, 85, of Palm Springs, Calif., died on Oct. 15, 2015.

Todd worked for the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco from 1951-1998, and was assistant manager at the time of his retirement.

He was together with his partner Gary Gray, also a Life Member, for 30 years, including the last two years as spouses. “We got married by the mayor of Palm Springs,” Gary said.

Todd had been a member of FFRF since 1990 and a Life Member since 2010.

FFRF sends heartfelt condolences to Gary and others who knew Todd.

Jerry H. Jeffery Jr.,


Jerry H. Jeffery Jr., 67, of Maitland, Fla., died Aug. 21, 2014. Jerry was born Aug. 4, 1947, in Newport, Ark. He is survived by his wife Anita and two children, Samatha and Michael Jeffery.

Jeffery, an attorney, worked with FFRF’s 2014 case against the Orange County (Fla.) School Board for allowing a private group to distribute bibles to 11 schools within the district and, alternatively, to allow FFRF to distribute materials.

Harry Robertson, 1941–2015

Longtime FFRF member Harry Robertson of Lahaina, Hawaii, died at Maui Memorial Medical Center on Oct. 8 at the age of 73, after a nine-year battle with cancer.

He was born Oct. 18, 1941, in South Africa and attended school there. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cape Town, where he was a member of the rowing team that won the South African National Championship in 1963.

He came to the U.S. in 1968 and got a master’s degree in business administration from Cal State-Long Beach and then went to work for Fluor Corp. He retired after 29 years and moved to Hawaii, where he remained active in the community. He enjoyed traveling, visiting six continents and more than 25 countries.

Harry is survived by his wife of 35 years, Peggy Odell Robertson, and two children, Reed Odell Robertson and Kate Robertson Marks.

Peggy wrote the following in a letter to FFRF in November:

“We had been reading Freethought Today for over 30 years and started a Freethought Society here in Maui for a couple of years. Harry and I would divide the newspaper (Freethought Today) as soon as it would come and discuss how great it was.

“Harry was a gracious, kind, thoughtful scholar and a gentleman that everyone liked, besides being an immigrant and accomplishing much in life. I received hundreds of letters and emails from all over the world describing Harry as a wonderful man. I wrote down four pages of adjectives that described him and read them all to our Poetry Society, and at the end I told them he was an atheist and everyone applauded!”

FFRF sends its sincerest condolences to Peggy and those who knew Harvey.

Don Worrell, 1923-2015

Don Worrell, an FFRF Lifetime Member and former Board of Directors member representing Alabama, died on Dec. 16, 2015, in Huntsville, Ala., at the age of 92.

He was graduate of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, with degrees in journalism and business administration.

He served as an Infantry rifleman in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, where his feet were frozen and he was hit by artillery shrapnel “right square in the buttocks,” Don said, “as Forrest Gump put it.” He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with V for Valor.

He worked as a reporter and news editor on newspapers in Columbus, Ga., Newport News, Va., Norman, Okla., and Tuscaloosa before joining NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville as an information specialist. “In plain language, a PR man,” Don explained. Among his duties was speechwriter for the center director, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the German-born creator of the Saturn V Moon rocket.

As Don pointed out, “Dr. von Braun was also the creator of the V-2 rockets, which we used to see flying over our foxholes in Belgium a decade earlier on their way to their targets in London — to me, a rather ironic, even absurdist, commentary on warfare in general.”

An enthusiasic (“but totally untalented”) golfer from age 12 into his 90s, Don made four holes-in-one along the way. “The first three were luck,” he admitted. “But that fourth one was pure skill.” After a long pause, “Well, maybe not.”

A paying hobby was teaching ballroom dancing, also into his 90s. “I almost made enough to pay for my golf,” he laughed. He claimed to be the world’s oldest living ballroom dance teacher.”

Don is survived by his wife, Naoko, whom he met in 1959, when she was his tour guide during his visit to her hometown of Kyoto, Japan. They have a son, Ken, also of Hunstville.

Per Don’s wishes, no funeral sevices were held.

He liked the epitaph: “Once I wasn’t. Then I was. Now I ain’t again.” And, to quote Richard Dawkins, “Being dead will be no different than being unborn. I shall be just as I was in the time of William the Conqueror or the dinosaurs.”

“We will greatly miss Don, a warm and vital presence at many national conventions and events at Lake Hypatia, Ala., with the Alabama Freethought Society chapter,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Freedom From Religion Foundation