The 1940s were a time of heroism and service.
Men, young and old were called to duty to fight social injustice across the world during World War II. And while they were overseas living out stories that serve as global inspiration to this day, women went to work. That’s when young Gertrude Gardner started helping people find homes as the Great Depression ended. This soon turned into a passion that led her to become the Crescent City’s first lady to build her own real estate company. In 1943, Gertrude opened her first office Uptown with “The Golden Rule” as the founding principle, and we’ve watched firsthand as the company has grown and prospered ever since.
World War II birthed a real estate pioneer in New Orleans
The story of Gertrude Gardner was recently chronicled by the Times-Picayune’s 300 for 300 project, which is celebrating the tricentennial of New Orleans by highlighting 300 people who have made New Orleans New Orleans. Along with each of the 300 icons’ stories is original artwork commissioned by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune with Where Y’Art gallery. Mrs. Gertrude Gardner’s artwork was done by the very talented Michael McManus.
Mrs. Gardner’s 300 for 300 piece details her legacy not just as it pertains to the Real Estate industry in New Orleans, but for her mark on social equality in New Orleans as well. The piece calls her a barrier breaker as she entered, and soon thrived in a male-dominated business.
Gardner “ushered in women’s rights in the real estate business and began the women’s movement in real estate in New Orleans,” said Albert Pappalardo, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors, when she died. “She was a pioneer, there’s no question about it.”
About the Icon
The TP’s piece also includes little known facts on each honoree that they call TRI-via. Mrs. Gertrude Gardner’s featured many fascinating facts including:
- Because of her intimate knowledge of the city, one could be excused for believing that Gardner was a native New Orleanian. She was born in Harriman, Tennessee, and moved with her husband to New Orleans in 1933.
- In 1976, Gardner became the first woman president of the Real Estate Board of New Orleans Inc. Three years later, she was the first woman named salesperson of the year by the Sales Marketing Executives Association of New Orleans.
- She was named New Orleans Realtor of the Year in 1977.
- As the company name implies, GARDNER REALTORS is and has been family owned since 1943. Gertrude Gardner first groomed her son Glenn Sr., to lead the company and later her grandson, Glenn Jr. who since 1979 has served as President. Glenn is currently grooming the 4th generation of leadership, “Chip” Glenn H. Gardner and Crystal Gertrude Gardner-Phillips.
- At her death, Gertrude Gardner Inc. had about 850 sales associates and 75 staff members working in 22 offices.
The Golden Rule
In Gertrude’s later years, she was affectionately referred to as “The Grande Dame of Real Estate.” Her legacy is truly one that lives on not only in each of our offices at GARDNER REALTORS, but throughout the Crescent City and beyond. She was famous for running her business according to the Golden Rule, as shown in the inspiring video below.
“It all simmers down to love… Love of people, love of your business, love of your family, you know, just love.” – Mrs. Gertrude Gardner, our Founder in 1943.
To read the entire piece and to see Mrs. Gertrude Gardner’s commissioned piece of art, click here.