Robert D. Gardner

October 15, 1925December 7, 2010

Robert (Bob) D. Gardner, 85, a former psychiatrist and Executive Director of the Central VA Community Services Board, died Dec. 7 at Westminster Canterbury. Memorial Service will be held at 12pm Friday, Dec. 10, 2010, at Agudath Sholom Synagogue. Interment will follow at Beth Joseph Cemetery in Madison Heights. Dr. Gardner, was also known as Dr. Nostalgia, a purveyor of antiques and collectibles, most notably postcards and paper memorabilia. Bob Gardner was born and raised in Trenton, NJ, but moved to Virginia to attend the University of VA in 1943 and thereafter made Virginia his home. During WW II, he served in the US Army Medical Corps. Dr. Gardner attended UVA Medical School, served at the VA hospital in Roanoke, taught at UVA medical school and opened a private practice in Lynchburg in 1960. From 1972 to 1985 he was Executive Director and then Clinical Director of Chapter 10 Mental Health services for the state of Virginia, and then returned to private practice until his retirement in 1990. He was active in community affairs, volunteering at the Fine Arts Center Theater, Lynchburg Museum, and the Mental Health Association. He was honored in 2007 by the VCCJ with its Humanitarian Award. In addition, he was president of the International Federation of Postcard Dealers, and, as a member of the Brotherhood of Agudath Sholom Synagogue, managed the annual Jewish Food Fair for 15 years. He was also a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Assoc. Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Leah Belle Gardner of Lynchburg, sons Todd (Lori) Gardner of Silver Springs, MD and Greg Gardner (Debra) of Owings Mills, MD and daughter Shayne Gardner of Arlington, Va. He was predeceased by daughter Jill Gardner. He is also survived by grandchildren Joshua, Alana and Jake Gardner, and his brother, Martin (Laura) Gardner of Hastings on Hudson, NY. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to the Jill Gardner Memorial Scholarship Fund, through the Greater Lynchburg Community Trust, or Agudath Sholom Synagogue. To send a condolence to the family, please visit, Whitten Park Avenue Chapel is assisting the family.


  • Funeral Service Friday, December 10, 2010

Robert D. Gardner

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Audrey Madans

December 29, 2010

How sad to learn of Dr. Nostalgia's passing. My husband & I used to love meeting up with him & discussing our postcard collections.
Please accept my deepest sympathies. Audrey Madans, Charlotte, N.C.

Gardner's Antiques Gardner's

December 15, 2010

Our condolences, from Gardner's Antiques, New Hope, PA

December 14, 2010

Dear Leah Belle & Family,

Please accept my sincere sympathy on the loss of one so dear to you. It was always a pleasure to be in such good company at antique shows and auctions.

Bob will be well-remembered by those who were fortunate to have known him.

And, to borrow a quote: "God made memories so that we can have roses in December". May your precious memories of Bob be your "roses in December".

Warm regards,

Barbara Sazynski

Dr. King Davis

December 14, 2010

To the Gardner Family:
Please accept my deepest condolences. Dr. Gardner was the Region Ten Mental Health Director when I arrived from Brandeis University in 1972 to be the new state director. He was very helpful in getting me started in a new job and went out of his way to be helpful, offering guidance, history,mentoring, and great wisdom. He provided services to so many people in the Virginia system for many years. Everyone in the central office of the department of mental health admired his frankness, humor, and professionalism. He was a great community psychiatrist with a critical understanding of mental illness and the need for community services.

Dr. King Davis
The University of Texas at Austin

Susan Patton

December 14, 2010

Dr. Gardner was my psychiatrist in the early 1970s. He was a good doctor and a good human being. He saw me through a very difficult period in my life. He was a wise and caring man, and had a great sense of humor. There were weeks when my visit to him was all that kept me going. He played an important role in many lives, and will never be forgotten. Thank you, Dr. G.

Jeff Latker

December 14, 2010

My deepest condolences to all of you from the Latker family.

December 13, 2010

On behalf of myself and most especially my parents, Albert and Martele Wasserman, I would like to express our condolences to the entire Gardner family. My parents have so many fond memories of Bob and will cherish them. Thinking of you all, Rae Rosenthal

December 13, 2010

In my thoughts and prayers, Mrs, Gardner, Greg, Shayne, and Todd. He was a fine man, condolences too you all at this time of year. Memories, they are precious. Love, Faye Moorman Mays

Rest In Peace Dr. Nostalgia

December 13, 2010

A dear family member who will never be forgotten.

Eric Bradley

December 10, 2010

This, along with an obituary, was published in the Dec. 29, 2010 edition of Antique Trader magazine.
"Like so many of us can do with items in our collection, I remembered exactly where and when and how much I spent with Dr. Nostalgia when I learned he passed away Dec. 7. It was Robert “Bob” D. Gardner, aka  Dr. Nostalgia, who launched me on one of my favorite collections and in a totally unexpected way.

For decades, Bob was known up and down the Eastern seaboard as Dr. Nostalgia, issuing prescriptions to addicted collectors at fine antiques and collectibles shows.

We first crossed paths during the 2006 Baltimore Summer Antiques Show. I was promoting the former Atlantique City Show and spent that Labor Day weekend recruiting dealers. The show was spectacular and shared significant crossover with our “high ticket” dealers. After two days of shaking hands, collecting contracts and passing out free passes, my eyes were beginning to glaze over from aisles of iridescence, ormolu and patinated bronze. I turned a corner, deep in the back section of the show and there was Dr. Nostalgia, happily chatting away with Nurse Leah Belle, his wife. I couldn’t get through my introduction when my eye caught a colorful dome in the back of his booth.

It stood out as much for its novelty as the fact that it didn’t look like anything else in the show. Resting on a top shelf was an old gray fedora with its brim neatly trimmed in a zigzag pattern. The hat was covered with dozens of celluloid gumball prizes, Cracker Jack toys and odd bits and pieces.

Dr. Nostalgia knew he had a customer. He took the hat down and explained the lore behind the beanie: how poor boys and girls of the 1930s and early 1940s would salvage the usable part of their dad’s old fedora hats and then cover them with whatever small collection they could muster around their modest neighborhoods. It was as though I had found something I always regretted losing as a kid.

He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “There’s a connection here,” and he offered me a deep discount on the price before I had the chance to ask. I stayed in their booth for some time and learned all I could about 1930s and ’40s home front collectibles and their large postcard inventory.

Bob and Leah Belle were scaling back the number of shows they exhibited at, but our paths crossed again two years later at Joyce Heilman’s excellent Great Eastern paper show in Allentown, Pa. To my surprise, both Bob and Leah Belle not only remembered me but also asked if I kept the beanie.

I don’t talk about the collection much because, frankly, I’m still a little embarrassed to be so excited about something so juvenile. But Bob and Leah Belle made it OK to collect them and loved hearing the stories behind each one I added to the family. I now have 10 of these great pieces of Americana folk art in my collection and they have brought me countless hours of joy, research and excitement. The collection has instilled a connection to others in the hobby, too (Ted Hake once sent me a beanie in thanks for a cover story on his 200th milestone auction) ... and it was all thanks to Bob.

Rest in peace, Dr. Nostalgia.
Thanks for the prescription.

-Eric Bradley, editor, Antique Trader magazine.