Every year during Customer Appreciation Week — the first week in October — at the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office employees set aside a day as “Jersey Day,” in which everyone dons jerseys of their favorite sports teams.
Deputy Recorder Dana Gardner came up with the idea eight years ago, and it has been a tradition at the office ever since. Gardner always wore a San Francisco 49ers jersey.
Gardner, 52, of Grand Terrace, did not live to partake in this year’s event. She was killed in Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas while attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival with her daughter, Kayla, and a group of friends.
Heavy hearted Recorder’s Office employees carried on the “Jersey Day” tradition Thursday, but instead of donning jerseys of their own favorite teams, they all wore 49ers jerseys in Gardner’s honor. They also created a button with a picture of Gardner posing with Kayla — Gardner wearing her 49ers jersey and Kayla wearing a Chargers jersey.
“We lost so much when we lost Dana. We lost so much insititutional knowledge and we lost a friend,” said Genevieve Preston, archives program administrator and a 10-year employee at the Recorder’s Office, in a telephone interview Thursday. “When you work with someone 9-10 hours a day, you know everything about them. They’re your work family.”
Less than two years after the Dec. 2, 2015 mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, county employees were shaken again at the news of Gardner’s death in the Las Vegas attack that killed 58 people and injured 527, some of them Inland Empire residents.
Gardner’s death prompted the deployment Monday of four crisis counselors to the office, said county Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk Bob Dutton.
But that didn’t stop employees from carrying on tradition in Gardner’s absence — in her memory.
Gardner, who began working for the Recorder’s Office in August 1991 as a document clerk and in her 26-year career learned just about everything there was to know about the job, always kept her door open to her staff, holding them to high standards but keeping morale high by making sure the work environment was relaxed and that each employee understood they were valued.