Skooter reporting 05/17/12
The 217-year-old tree nicknamed “Herbie” finally succumbed to Dutch elm disease and over the weekend, the 103-year-old, was a professional logger but earned his true legacy spending decades protecting New England’s tallest elm tree has died as well.
Knight will be buried in a special casket carved from the 110-foot-tall-tree that first came to life in 1793 as a final tribute to this rare relationship between man and nature.
A close friend of Knight told the press that it is a wonderful thing to have them together that way and felt as if Frank took good care of Herbie and now Herbie will take good care of Frank, Deb Hopkins said.
Knight became the unofficial “tree warden” in 1956, in Yarmouth, located about 10 miles north of Portland, Maine. Dutch elm disease was causing mayhem on the local elm tree population during that time. Herbie became infected, and Knight had local workers randomly prune the tree's diseased limbs. The tree reportedly survived 14 cases of Dutch elm disease over the years, thanks to Knight and the workers.
But in January 2010, Herbie’s time has come, Knight told the AP at the time, the 110-foot-tall tree, whose tall stature could reportedly be seen for miles, finally collapsed. "And mine is about due, too, " Knight had said.
His son, Dick Knight told the Boston Herald that his father cared for Herbie for 52 years, and in return Herbie will care for Frank forever.
After the tree went down, its wood was used to make several items, including an electric guitar. Some of Herbie’s wood was being set aside for Knight’s coffin, and he wasn’t aware of that. The coffin was designed by local custom furniture maker Chris Becksvoort.
Knight and Herbie became something of a legend over the years. People traveling from around the world posh and take their picture with the famous tree.
Jan Ames Santerre, urban forestry program coordinator for the Maine Forest Service was quoted as saying, "It wasn't just the tree. It wasn't just Frank. It's almost like a little love story. He saw that tree and he knew he wanted to save it." [unquote]