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A tree falls in Farragut

The Rev. John Dowling said God may have been sending message to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in the early hours of Wednesday, March 5, when the giant oak tree located in front of the church’s office off Grigsby Chapel road was pulled out of the ground, roots and all. “Our church stationary had the oak tree on it for years. I have been here for over 10 years and the stationary always had the oak tree on it. A couple of months ago, the secretary said ‘Hey father, we are moving, do you think we ought to change the stationary?’ So we decided to put the new church on it.

“We put the picture of the new church on the stationary about two months ago and here the tree fell, it may be God’s way of saying ‘I approve this message.’”

The tree, which has been estimated by Cortese Tree Specialists to be about 300 years old and one of the five oldest trees in Tennessee, has been the subject of many telephone calls and e-mails to both farragutpress and Farragut Town Hall from citizens expressing their disappointment at the loss of this giant piece of history.

“One guy [from Cortese Tree Service] I talked to this morning said he knew it was not long for this world because last year when we had some branches fall Cortese came out and trimmed it up a bit and he stuck some kind of measuring device into it and realized it was hollow. He said it went about four feet into the tree,” Dowling said.

“It was no surprise to them that it fell, but no one was here, so I do not know if it made a sound or not,” Dowling added with a chuckle.

“ But seriously,” he said, “It was a beautiful tree. It was magnificent. When you came around that corner [on Grigsby Chapel Road] it just stared you in the face.”

Harry Shuckman, facilities director for St. John Neumann, said there is a sister tree on the property that is almost as old but not quite as big as the oak that fell.

Though the tree obviously has to be disposed of, there are plans to try and preserve a piece of this arboreal history.

“We are going to try to plant a few of the buds that have bloomed and maybe make a couple of benches to set out in remembrance of the tree. We also want to cut a piece and take it up to Father Casey because he really loved the tree,” Shuckman said.

The Rev. Bill Casey previously held the pastoral position at St. John Neumann for 10 years prior to the appointment of Dowlng

“We have always protected that tree and had parties and picnics under it and lots of Easter egg hunts around it,” Shuckman said.


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