Mark Gardner graduated MB, BS, at Melbourne University in 1909, and after two years as Resident at the Childrens and Melbourne Hospitals went to London for further experience.
He had a brilliant sporting record at Melbourne Grammar and the University, where he was a rare Triple Blue (cricket, football and athletics) and played 34 games for Melbourne and University in the VFL. (the M.U. Football Club was disbanded during the 1914-1918 War). When the British Red Cross called for volunteers to care for the wounded in the First Balkan War in 1913, he was attached to the Unit sent to Turkey, where the experience was a valuable precursor to 4 ½ years Great War service in the RAMC, which included postings to France, Russia, the Hospital Ship Britannic and German East Africa, where he was awarded the Military Cross. Following demobilisation in 1919, Mark Gardner spent two years at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, rising from Third to Senior Surgeon, and returned to Melbourne with glowing testimonials from the great men of Moorfields, E. Treacher Collins, Sir John Herbert Parsons, J. Herbert Fisher and Sir William Lister, who had observed his surgical skill in the RAMC in France.
On return to Melbourne after more than ten years’ absence, Mark Gardner threw himself into Melbourne’s medical life, joining the Honorary Staff of the Eye & Ear Hospital, where for twenty years he was senior Ophthalmic Surgeon and staff representative on the Hospital’s Committee of Management. He was also a Founding member of Melbourne Legacy and its President in 1926-1927, and for the whole of his working life was on call to treat the widows and children of Legacy’s fallen servicemen. He was also Honorary Ophthalmologist at the Childrens and Foundling Hospitals.
He founded the Medico-Legal Society and was a member of the Trinity College Council from 1923 until his death. During the Second World War, when older doctors carried the additional burden of covering for younger colleagues in the armed services, he was a member of a roster of ophthalmologists set up to treat industrial eye accidents. He also served as Consultant Ophthalmologist (Visiting Specialist) at the Heidelberg Military Hospital and with his colleague Dr. Leslie demonstrated the use of penicillin in the treatment of wartime eye casualties.
Worn out by the stress of his second World War, Mark Gardner died at the age of 65 in November 1949 as he would have wished – immediately after seeing his last patient in the rooms at No. 12 Collins Street which he had occupied for the whole of his post-WW1 working life.
Some years after his death, his family remember seeing a Hospital property in nearby Morrison Place bearing a brass plate “Mark Gardner House”, but it appears that the property was later compulsorily sold by the Victorian Government and nothing remains to identify the site except for a diagram in the Hospital’s archives. No record can be found of the decision by the Hospital’s Board of Management, but it is certain that Mark Gardner’s spirit will be present in Morrison Place when his beloved “Eye and Ear’s” 150th birthday is celebrated there in April 2013.