Sault Ste. Marie has lost a well-known and highly respected community member.
Patti Gardi died Wednesday at the age of 83.
A teacher with the former Sault Ste. Marie Roman Catholic School Board, Gardi was known for her volunteer work with Bon Soo and the Sault Symphony Orchestra.
She served with the SSO for 30 years.
She was the orchestra’s manager from 1993 to 2008 and again from 2009 to 2013.
“Being the manager, she really had things organized,” said Louis St. Pierre, an SSO percussionist speaking to SooToday on Thursday.
“We had a good relationship. Patti would come up to you and say ‘could you do me a big favour?’ That was her classic line, and it would be some little thing like moving a box out of the car. We would get chatting and she would tell me things like ‘I’m telling you, I’m going to write a book one of these days’ about her experiences and then we would have big laughs about it. It was just a blast chatting with Patti,” St. Pierre said.
Gardi was predeceased by husband Frank Gardi, a well-known local TV producer and community events organizer.
The two could be described as a highly visible local power couple.
“Frank was the master at promoting and Patti was the master at organizing. They really kept the orchestra going. There is a board but she was the constant. Board members come and go but she was there to keep the office going and that things were done in the proper way,” St. Pierre said.
“When she retired from the orchestra she was really missed. She did her bit for King and Country. She earned her retirement from the orchestra.”
St. Pierre said Gardi will be remembered as “very good hearted and funny. She was very well liked. I’ll miss her.”
“I moved back to the Sault from Guelph in 2007 and I was looking for ways to get involved in the community. Patti reached out to me about joining the board of directors for the Sault Symphony. Patti really carried the torch for the symphony,” recalled Thomas Brandstetter, who once served as SSO vice president.
“If it wasn’t for Patti and Frank I think the symphony could’ve folded many times throughout the years. She was definitely one of a kind.”
“I produced a couple of plays for Theatre SMC and the board approved the staging for The Sound of Music in 2009. I spent a lot of time in the office getting to know Patti and working collaboratively to bring that production to the stage for the community," Brandstetter said.
“She was like a second mother to many people. She always cared so much about the people that worked with her, people on the board, the symphony members themselves. She always had a real interest in people’s lives. She was really genuine that way.”
“I went on to produce a number of musicals for the Musical Comedy Guild and I would definitely thank Patti in getting the community to buy in for those musicals. She definitely had a way of getting sponsorship and in-kind partnership. I definitely learned that skill from Patti, in how to build relationships with the business community in order to promote a show and make it successful," Brandstetter said.
As SSO manager, Gardi led programs such as the Sault Symphony School of Music, the annual Beer, Bratwurst and Beethoven festival and programs in the schools for special-needs students.
Gardi was the founder and chief instructor of the Sault Ste. Marie Twirlettes and Drum Corps.
Under her leadership, the Senior Corps of the Twirlettes represented Sault Ste. Marie in various national and provincial parades and competitions, including Grey Cup parades.
Gardi was a longtime volunteer with Bon Soo, especially with the Miss Bon Soo Pageant.
She chaired a panel of judges for the annual event and acted as a mentor to its contestants.
As chaperone to Miss Bon Soo, Gardi served as an ambassador for Sault Ste. Marie, accompanying various Miss Bon Soos on visits to communities across Canada, the Caribbean and Europe.
Gardi was also known for her admiration of the monarchy and fondly remembered the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Sault in 1959.
Gardi earned many awards for her numerous contributions to the community.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie awarded Gardi the Medal of Merit in 2008, recognizing her contributions to the community as a teacher, mentor and volunteer.
She is survived by three children and five grandchildren.
To view Gardi’s obituary and for information on funeral arrangements, click here.