Monday, May 27, 2024

Shakespeare Park Sundial


Jack Gardner’s Sundial

And A Friendship That Still Blooms in the Shakespeare Park Garden

By Orna Rawls

Orna Rawls is a member of the garden committee, in charge of the birdbath.

In 1959 actors John Housman and Will Geer attended a Stratford High School theatre performance, looking for local talent. Impressed with SHS senior Jack Gardner, they invited him to audition in New York City. Jack was then cast in Antony and Cleopatra, starring Katherine Hepburn, at our own American Shakespeare Theatre.

Jack went on to star with many other celebrities in other productions around the globe, and continued enjoying his friendship with Will Geer. As many of our readers know, actor and botanist Will Geer created the garden that now carries his name, located at the entrance to Shakespeare Park on Elm Street. Maintained by Stratfords of the World Reunion Committee and volunteers, the garden attracts local residents looking for beauty, inspiration and peace.

Among the visitors were a local couple, Robert Litzie, a very close cousin of Jack Gardner, and his wife Joanne. Joanne, seeing a pedestal among the flowers, thought that erecting a sundial in Will Geer’s Garden would be a great memorial to Jack, who died this May in Florida.

Jack Gardner with Bernadette Peters in Dames At Sea

Joanne presented the idea to Jack’s husband, James Turner, and to the garden committee. All loved the idea. The committee cleaned up the pedestal and added the marble slab to the top to ready it for the sundial. Joanne found online a sundial made in England, and all was ready to go.

Last Sunday, September 17th, the two theatre friends’ memories were united in a touching dedication ceremony at the garden.


  1. Thanks, Orna, for such a touching article! We are so pleased with the way everything turned out!
    Hopefully, this will reach some of Jack’s SHS ’59 friends who were unaware of his passing.
    Many thanks!

  2. I was using this lovely garden as a backdrop for one of my show cars this Summer. I see why it attracted me, the energy of the past was indeed the magnet. Interesting Article, the Good Old days. Thank-you!


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