Charles Winn Gardiner


Charles Winn Gardiner died Oct. 21, at age 92. A man who knew a good thing when he found it, he was married to his beloved Janie for 68 years and worked in the computer industry for 61 years. 

Charlie grew up in Brookline, the youngest son of Elizabeth (Denny) Gardiner and Robert H. Gardiner IV.  He attended the Park School and Groton School before graduating from Harvard College in 1950, summa cum laude in engineering sciences, and Harvard Business School in 1952. 

His career as a software engineer began at the Laboratory for Electronics in 1952 and included a two-year stint in England.  He worked for several companies around Route 128 during the ’60s and ’70s, and obtained multiple patents, before joining Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) in 1986.  There his work focused on cryptography.  Charlie was the lead software engineer for a groundbreaking product called SafeKeyper, which was used to establish and verify encrypted connections.  His colleagues remember him for his superb memory, his gentlemanly demeanor, his bow ties and his dry sense of humor.  He retired from BBN in 2013 at age 84.

Charlie married Janie (Lothrop) in 1953, and they lived for decades in Manchester.  He served on the Manchester Conservation Commission and the vestry of St. John’s Church in Beverly Farms.  He took great pleasure in tennis and skiing with family and friends, thoughtful conversation, Latin and Greek, walks in the woods, grammatical precision and especially sailing off Manchester and along the Maine coast.  His friends and family thoroughly enjoyed his quick wit and entertaining storytelling.  In recent years he and Janie, who died in April 2021, lived at Edgewood in North Andover.

He is survived by his children and their partners: David and Betsy Gardiner of Arlington, VA, Gordon Gardiner and Karen Sommer of Seattle, Charles Gardiner and Jennifer Gotti of the San Francisco Bay Area, Susannah Gardiner and David Kornblau of New York, and Elizabeth Gardiner and Andrew Marshall of Washington, DC.  Charlie’s six siblings predeceased him.  His survivors include eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and dozens of extended family members, about whom he cared deeply.  His family thanks Lindsay Thomas, Elba Herrera, Aidan Cheney-Lynch and the Edgewood staff for their remarkable kindness and care.  A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Church in Beverly Farms on June 12, at 2 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. John’s Church ( or the Trustees of Reservations (

gardiner, charles winn gardiner, john gardiner, george allanson-winn, 1st baron headley, aidan cheney-lynch, lindsay thomas, elba herrera, jennifer gotti, harvard college, harvard business school, gordon gardiner, robert h. gardiner iv, st. john’s church, andrew marshall, janie lothrop, elizabeth gardiner, denny gardiner, karen sommer, groton school, david kornblau, susannah gardiner, bolt beranek, winn gardiner charles winn gardiner, betsy gardiner