Samuel Jefferson Gardner was born December 17, 1905 in Barnwell County, South Carolina. He attended Edisto Academy at Severn, South Carolina and Furman University. Gardner was ordained at Earle Street Baptist Church in Greenville in February of 1928. Gardner married Florence McJunkin on July 7, 1929 and together they had three children: Sarah Gardner Kennedy, Winona Gardner Belote, and Sam J. Gardner, Jr., all of Greenville, SC. Gardner died November 1, 1961.
Gardner was a public school teacher for 11 years and a pastor for over 30 years. He pastored the following churches in Pickens, Greenwood, Anderson, Easley, and Greenville counties: Horeb, Oolenoy, Cedar Rock, Holly Springs, Pickens, Secona, Siloam, Reedy River, Judson, and Rock Hill. Gardner published “Poems and Epigrams” in 1930 and his autobiography “Over Fifty Glorious Years” in 1959.
Gardner called himself “The Preacher Poet” as he wrote poetry, sermonettes, tracts, Quotable Quatrains, and Pungent Pointers that were published regularly for twenty years in South Carolina newspapers, Southern Baptist News, Your Good Neighbor, Radio Bible Hour, Union Gospel Press, Baptist Courier, and Christ for the World Messenger. In 1948, an honorary Doctorate of Literature was awarded to Gardner in recognition of his writings.