NOAA History Banner
gold bar divider
home - takes you to index page
about the site
noaa - takes you to the noaa home page
search this site
white divider
arrow Profiles in Time
arrow C&GS Biographies

banner - profiles in time c and gs biographies

Captain 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 Islands.

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 accomplished.

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 burned off.

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 Frances Wantz.

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


Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer