John Lawrence Gildner – Colonel, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report

John Lawrence Gildner, 66, a retired Air Force colonel and hospital administrator who had been chief executive officer for 20 years of the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents in Rockville, died of cancer November 3, 1999 at his Seabrook home.

A former administrator of the hospital at Andrews Air Force Base, he had lived in the Washington area for 30 years. He was the founding administrator of the Rockville facility, which treats emotionally disturbed children.

Colonel Gildner was born in Austin, Minnesota. He was a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he also received a master's degree in hospital administration. He served in the Air Force for 26 years in France, Germany, Labrador and elsewhere.

He received a Legion of Merit, an Award for Distinguished Service to Education from the Montgomery County Board of Education and an award from the Association of Military Surgeons for outstanding accomplishments in federal health care management. His hobby was watercolor painting.

He was a fellow of the American College of Hospital Administrators and a member of the Federal Health Care Executives Institute, Washington Society of Landscape Artists, Association of Mental Health Administrators and Glenn Dale United Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Carol S. Gildner of Seabrook; two sons, Gregory L. Gildner of Venice, Fla., and Scott B. Gildner of Scottsdale, Ariz.; two brothers, Jay W. Gildner of Chevy Chase and Van H. Gildner of Boulder City, Nev.; a sister, Mary E. Snore of Naples; and four grandchildren.


On November 3, 1999 of Seabrook, Maryland. Beloved husband of Carol S. Gildner; father of Gregory L. Gildner of Venice, Florida, and Scott B. Gildner of Scottsdale, Arizona; grandfather of Samantha, Travis, Jesse and Grace Gildner; brother of Jay W. Gildner of Chevy Chase, Maryland, Dan H. Gildner of Boulder City, Nevada, and Mary E. Snore of Naples, Florida.

Services will be held on Tuesday, November 16, 1999 at 9 a.m. at the Fort Myer Chapel, Arlington, Virginia. Interment Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Regional Institute fro Children and Adolescents Foundation, Rockville, Maryland 20850.

Submitted by Bob Leyshon

John L. Gildner was a personal friend of mine. We worked together at the Regional Institute for Childrena and Adolescents in Rockville, Maryland. This school has now been renamed in honor of John. He was truly an outstanding person.  I am impressed by the tribute you have organized, and thought the attached article might have a place on your website.

Maryland Renames Center After John Gildner ’64

Many of us strive to make a difference in people’s lives and create something that will continue after we’re gone. Such is the legacy of John Gildner, who launched an exemplary career in healthcare by earning an MHA degree at the University of Maryland and managing a number of medical centers while he was in the Air Force.
But he will be remembered most for his vision and leadership in establishing a model facility in 1981 to care for and educate emotionally disturbed children in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Called RICA or Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, the facility is a community based public treatment, education and residential center for 180 severely emotionally disturbed boys and girls, ages 6 – 18. The program is a partnership between the State of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Montgomery County Public School System.

Gildner served as RICA’s CEO until his death from cancer in 1999. About 18 months later the State of Maryland and its Board of Public Works, chaired by Governor Parris Glendening, approved renaming the facility to The John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents. The Montgomery County School, which is on RICA’s campus, was also renamed the John L. Gildner RICA School.

Glendening said, “He (Gildner) had a tremendous professional reputation, as well as statewide impact.” Another delegate to the Board said, “John had a special knack for making each person he spoke to feel as he was the most important person John knew.”

“John Gildner wore many hats,” wrote Leah Tarpley, an Administrative Aide at RICA. “In his public life, and especially in his work here at RICA, John Gildner was a humanitarian devoted to the alleviation of human suffering. He was concerned above all with the children and families served by RICA.”

Born in 1938 and raised in Austin, Minnesota, Gildner joined the Air Force and rose to the rank of Colonel, before retiring from active duty. He earned a Legion of Merit Award from his first assignment as Chief of the Plans and Health Care Delivery Branch, Medical Plans and Resources Directorate, Office of the Air Force Surgeon General in Washington, D.C. He was also decorated for his work in supervising the collection and distribution of blood during the Vietnam War.

Gildner’s military background also includes serving as Administrator of the USAF Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and administrative positions at USAF bases in Goose Bay, Labrador; Omaha, Nebraska; and Chateauroux, France.

He was recognized in 1976 with the Ray E. Brown Award from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States for outstanding accomplishments in federal healthcare management. Later in life, the Montgomery County Board of Education presented him an award for Distinguished Service to Education.

He was a Fellow in the American College of Hospital Administrators, a member of the Federal Health Care Executives Institute and the Association of Mental Health Administrators. In addition, he was active as a preceptor for the Departments of Hospital Administration at the Medical College of Virginia and George Washington University.

Gildner and his wife of 44 years, Carol, lived in Seabrook, Maryland. He is also survived by their two sons Gregory of Venice, FL, and Scott of Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Maryland Renames Center After John Gildner ’64.” Minnesota Network November 2002: pp 5-6. Department of Healthcare, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN.

Award for Distinguished Service to Education from the Montgomery County Board of Education:

John L. Gildner, Individual Pioneer

Over the past 20 years, John L. Gildner was instrumental in opening, maintaining, and overseeing the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents-Rockville educational and therapeutic program, operated by the state of Maryland and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS),  for severely emotionally handicapped children and adolescents.

Before RICA was created, MCPS had little alternative but to send troubled and disruptive youngsters to distant and sometimes impersonal facilities or even out of state. Under John Gildner’s administration, RlCA’s sustained commitment to excellence has been recognized. It has been accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations since 1984 and has been accredited with commendation at the highest level attainable in its last three surveys: 1993, 1996, and 1999.

As a retired United States Air Force Colonel, John Gildner came to RICA in 1979 and helped to establish the criteria for success and the exceptional quality of care RICA is known for today. Instead of pursuing more lucrative opportunities, John Gildner preferred a second career in public service that would benefit the children and families not only in Montgomery County, but also surrounding communities.

Through John Gildner’s efforts, the RICA program has educated, treated and successfully mainstreamed thousands of students. Many of these RICA alumni have become productive adult citizens. His devotion to children and adolescents has had a profound and immense impact on the families and communities of the state of Maryland.

“Distinguished Service Awards: 1999.” November 1999. Montgomery County Board of Education. Rockville, Maryland

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