Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The oldtimer and the tree

The tree lived for 217 years and the man who kept it alive has now died at a little less than half that. Frank Knight (pictured above in 2009 with "Herbie" behind him and in 2010 after the tree was cut down, video here) had been the tree warden of Yarmouth, Maine, for more than 50 years. "Frank’s passion for the town, its trees, and his kind and gentle manner was an inspiration to all those who knew him," reads a statement from the Maine Department of Conservation on Frank's passing at the age of 103. Dutch elm disease was killing trees by the hundreds when Frank began as a volunteer, so he focused his efforts on one giant elm that at 110' could be seen from miles away. With pruning and pesticide, he was able to nurse the tree through 14 rounds of the disease, until it finally had to be taken down 2 years ago. At that time, Knight - by then a legend among schoolchildren and forestry workers - said, "His time has come. And mine is about due, too." At the request of his family, and without Frank's knowledge, custom furniture maker Chris Becksvoort built a simple casket from wood of the tree which had been set aside. The centenarian will be laid to rest in it after dying in hospice on Monday. "To have them together like that is a wonderful thing. I feel like Frank took good care of Herbie. Now Herbie will take good care of Frank," says friend and successor Deb Hopkins.

Plenty of previous posts about trees:

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