C. L. Garner,
Chief of the Division of Geodesy, was born in Bogue, North
Carolina on September 22, 1884. On graduation from North Carolina
State College in 1907 with the degree of Bachelor of Science
in Civil Engineering, he entered the service of this Bureau,
where his early assignments were on the vessels and shore
parties, engaged in wire-drag, hydrographic, topographic and
triangulation surveys in the United States and the Philippine
From 1914 to 1916, Captain Garner was busily engaged in the
determination of the force of gravity at 70 stations in various
sections of the United States. During World War I he was assigned
as chief of party of triangulation, traverse and leveling
operations, which were considered of such importance to the
war effort that his transfer to the armed forces was not allowed.
One of the Chief's most interesting and important field assignments
was the measurement of the 23-mile Pasadena, California base,
used by the late Dr. A. A. Michelson in the determination
of the velocity of light. This base was measured with a high
degree of precision, the mathematical probable error being
one part in 11 million. He also was in charge of the Santa
Ana, California base, used in additional research by Dr. Michelson
in the determination of the velocity of light in vacuum.
From 1923 to 1927, Captain Garner was Commanding Officer of
the Ship DISCOVERER working in Alaska, California, and Hawaii,
and from 1927 to 1929, he was in charge of the New York District
Office. From 1929 to 1936 he was Assistant Chief of Geodesy,
becoming Chief of that division January 1, 1937.
During his long service in the Bureau, Captain Garner has
always been deeply interested in surveying and mapping and
their importance in engineering and science. As Chairman of
the Board of Surveys and Maps from 1937-1940, he was instrumental
in putting the mapping plan into effect, which calls for the
acceleration of mapping in the United States as an item of
vital importance to the war effort. During his service in
Geodesy, 75 percent of the mapping of the country has been
In keeping with most field officers of the Bureau, he has
his share of experiences and anecdotes. On one of his triangulation
parties working in New Mexico, three of his men took refuge
from a thunderstorm under a canvas tarp. There was quite a
display of lightening and one bolt struck two of the men burning
them rather severely, but the third man who was in the center
was untouched. One of the outside men was Commander Schoppe
who in addition to receiving several burns, had all the metal
parts of his leather puttees flushed together or entirely
One of Captain Garner's favorite stories, however, is of the
time during a wire-drag season in Maine, as he was returning
by launch to Rockland with his inside coat pocket full of
pay checks, when a freak wind breezed up inside his coat,
blew the entire payroll out through the coat collar and sent
each check scampering madly over the waves. While visions
of the Accounting Section danced through his head, he immediately
ordered the launch about, and he and the crew began madly
scooping up the fluttering checks, now water-soaked and sinking.
Thanks to their gyrations, all checks were recovered, thoroughly
dried on the boat's exhaust muffler (luckily India ink had
been used) the party properly paid off, and Accounts had only
routine problems that month.
Captain Garner has held office in many scientific and engineering
societies, being president of the Washington Society of Engineers,
Vice President of the Philosophical Society of Washington,
President of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Director,
Society of American Military Engineers, Chairman of the Section
of Geodesy of the American Geophysical Union, and chairman
of the Committee on Entertainment of the International Union
of Geodesy and Geophysics. He received the degree of Doctor
of Engineering from North Carolina State in 1940 and belongs
to Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Pi.
He is chairman of the Committee of Geodesy of the Commission
on Cartography, Pan American Institute of Geography, and has
taken an active part in the development of that commission,
having attended the meetings in Washington and Rio de Janeiro,
and will attend the coming meeting at Caracas, Venezuela.
During World War II, the Division of Geodesy played an active
part, and because of the stringent demands upon his time,
Captain Garner was unable to indulge in his favorite sports
of bowling, golfing or fishing.
All during his varied service in the Bureau, Captain Garner
has taken keen interest and pride in maintaining the high
standards of its work. It is through his efforts that the
geodetic control surveys have progressed so rapidly during
the past few years.
Captain Clement Leinster Garner, NOAA (retired), died on April
5, 1979. At the age of 94, he was the oldest retired officer
of the NOAA Corps.
Captain Garner was born September 22, 1884, in Bogue, North
Carolina. He received a Bachelor os Science Degree in Civil
Engineering from North Carolina State College in June 1907.
He was appointed in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (a
predecessor organization of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration) as an aid on July 1, 1907.
During his almost 40-year career, he had a variety of assignments
in the field, on ships operating on both coasts and in the
Philippines, and on geodetic work throughout the United States.
He was in charge of the New York station from May 1927 until
September 1929. He became Assistant Chief of the Geodesy Division
in October 1929 and chief of that division on January 1, 1937,
where he served until his retirement for disability on October
1, 1945. Captain Garner voluntarily returned to active duty
on two separate occasions after retirement to represent the
Coast and Geodetic Survey at meetings with representatives
of South American countries interested in surveying and mapping.
The honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering was conferred
upon Captain Garner in June 1940 by the Greater University
of North Carolina. He was a member of American Society of
Civil Engineers, the Philosophical Society of Washington,
Washington Society of Photogrammetry, American Astronomical
Society, Washington Academy of Sciences, Federal Board of
Surveys and Maps, Society of American Military Engineers,
American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society
for the Promotion of Engineering Education, the Cosmos Club,
and the Association of Commissioned Officers of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He was a 32nd degree
Master Mason, Scottish Rite, and also a member of the Shrine
Anchor Masonic Club, Sojourners, and Heroes of '76.
Captain Garner's wife, Mary, predeceased him in May 1977.
He leaves two daughters, Alice Elizabeth Upchurch and Mary
Captain Garner was buried on Monday, April 9, 1979, at the
Ft. Lincoln Cemetery, Brentwood, Maryland.
THE BUZZARD, Vol. X, 5/20/1943
THE BUZZARD, Vol. XIII, No. 39, 10/4/1945
NOAA CORPS BULLETIN, 4/1/1979