In Memoriam

Peter Ehrlich

January 26, 1948 - May 2, 2017 Born in Bronx, NY. Graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in forestry. Worked in Golden Gate Park in the reforestation program and created the reforestation program for the Presidio. He was a lover of birds and plants, which translated into making a big impact on tree protection in the Presidio and beyond. He had encyclopedic knowledge of various tree species and was keen on ensuring the right plant for the right place in the field. He thrived in nature, fueling this energy and love for the wild through countless projects, including helping Andy Goldsworthy with plant-based art installations in the Presidio. Peter was a compelling storyteller with a sharp-witted sense of humor. He always voiced and stood up for what he believed in. Peter will forever exist through the legacy of his passionate spirit, inspired by this world and all its living beings.

Peter Ehrlich

Greg Severino

Greg Severino

August 5, 1961 - December 11, 2016

Aloha ‘Oe Gregory K. Severino
By Carol Kwan

My good friend, Gregory K. Severino, died on December 11, 2016, while scuba diving. He had been battling cancer in late 2015/early 2016 and was recovering well from treatment, gaining weight and strength, although his doctors weren’t sure if the cancer was in remission or not. He was a scuba diving enthusiast, so he died doing what he loved.

Greg was a bigger than life part of Hawaii’s arborist community. He served as Aloha Arborist Association’s (AAA’s) president for 9 years, starting in the late 1990s through January 2008. As an Italian, Greg loved to tell stories, usually accompanied with hands waving in the air. From what he told me, he was mouthing off at AAA meetings about all of the things that AAA should be doing, so everyone else said, “Fine then – you be president!” He jumped into the role and made things happen, teaching training classes and coordinating volunteer work days. Greg spearheaded the effort to put on our first Tree Climbing Championship (TCC) in Hawaii in many years in 2009 and helped make it an annual event by planning and organizing several of them. Because Greg offered aerial rescue training, a pre-requisite for the Certified Tree Worker exam, there are over 85 Certified Tree Workers who were able to sit for the exam and get their certifications. Anytime anyone needed help, Greg was the first to volunteer, whether it be a non-profit, a church, a school, or another worthy organization lacking in funds, and he was there with the Paradise Landscape Maintenance, Inc. (PLMI) crew and equipment to make things happen.

Steve Nimz, Certified Arborist, remembers Greg as one of the most enthusiastic, friendly people that he’s worked with in the tree business. “Greg always had a great smile and a positive attitude about tree work. When he wasn’t talking about trees, he was talking about diving. Whatever he did, he did with gusto.”

Kevin Eckert, Board Certified Master Arborist, recalls Greg as a tremendous leader and supporter of our industry and the people involved. “He came right from the heart with everything he did. He was a great teacher and just a good all-around guy and he will be very much missed by his friends, colleagues, and the industry in general.”

Greg is survived by his 15-year old son, David Severino, and his adult daughter, Jessica Chiocchio. A fundraiser has been set up to help with expenses for his son.

For Greg, my friend – the refrain from the song Aloha ‘Oe written by Queen Liliuokalani:

Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A hoʻi aʻe au
Until we meet again

Carol Kwan is the President of Carol Kwan Consulting, a Certified Arborist, Vice President of Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture, and a Director of Aloha Arborist Association.

David Cox

1929 - 2015

David Cox

David Cox of Georgetown passed away Saturday, Jan. 24. He was born in Alameda in 1929. Dave and his wife, Martha, moved to Georgetown in 1985 following his retirement as a horticulture instructor at Diablo Valley College. He graduated from Cal Berkeley in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in entomology; he loved bugs. Dave was the former owner of Redbud Nursery in Georgetown, a broadcaster on KFOK Community Radio with the show Garden Thyme, and a life member of the Divide Garden Club. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Martha; and step-daughters, Amy and Suzi Huntington. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him. A memorial service is planned for the spring.

Robert "Dan" Jensen

November 12, 1952 - April 20, 2015

Some of you may have seen the sad news posted on our social media outlets. We now have Dan’s full memorial information which is listed below. It will be added to our memorial page tomorrow. Walt Warriner and I had the good fortune to visit Dan shortly after his diagnosis – he was in good spirits and so thankful for the full life he lead in the name of trees. John Conway shared with us at Street Tree last month Dan’s desire to have his friends and colleagues know that he truly cherished their camaraderie. The quote below is from Dan’s President’s message - this same time of year, 10 years ago. He was a wise man and a great leader. I love that his family chose to honor his service in his obituary. Dan would have loved it.

Dan Jensen

Life, as we know it, in the Western States is largely dependent on an abundant supply of water. -Dan Jensen (2005)

Robert "Dan" Jensen peacefully succumbed to advanced gallbladder cancer at home with his family on the morning of April 20th, 2015. Dan was a loving husband, brother, father, grandfather, mentor, and friend. He spent his life making Southern California more beautiful during his 48 year career in landscape and arboriculture. Dan had a BS in Ornamental Horticulture from Cal Poly Pomona, was an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist, a licensed Pest Control Advisor, and a Qualified Pesticide Applicator. He was active in the activities of the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, the Street Tree Seminar, the California Pest Control Advisors Association, and the Agricultural Production Consultants Association. He was a Past President of Street Tree Seminar, served a second term as Treasurer, was also a Past President of the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, and remained active on the Finance Committee thereafter. There are no words that can explain how much Dan will be missed. He is survived by his wife Rhonda, son Dane, daughter-in law Diane, grandson Manus Daniel, second grandchild due in May, and his three siblings, Dale, Denise, and Diane.

There will be a Rosary Service for Dan held at 6pm at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Huntington Beach on Thursday, April 23rd. In lieu of flowers, it was Dan's wish that donations be made to The Britton Fund or The Tree Fund

May God keep you safe.

Gathering of family and friends for appetizers at Claim Jumper on Brookhurst in Fountain Valley from 3pm to 7pm on Saturday April 25th

We will be honoring Dan and our other members who have passed this year during the Welcome on Tuesday morning. Please keep Dan’s family in your thoughts – and your own in your arms. Life is precious.

With fond memories and a heavy heart,


Charles Mathias

Charles Mathias

February 8, 1910 - September 22, 2013

Charles Mathias of Nipomo died Monday September 22nd at 103. He was born in Monte Vista, CO February 8, 1910. He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Velma, his son Edward, grandsons Brent and Kirt and granddaughters Sarah and Laura. He is predeceased by his parents Chester and Nanella, and siblings Frank and Lucy. He lived a full and active life as a farmer, cattle puncher, professional musician, high school teacher and principal and landscape designer. He graduated from Colorado State University and retired from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power where he was in charge of landscape design and maintenance. Charles was a founding member and past president of the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture where he initiated the arborist certification process in use today. He had also been president of the board of the United Methodist Church in San Fernando, CA and Black Lake Mobile Home Owners Association in Nipomo. At 102 he was not only the oldest active member of the Retired Active Men’s Association, but continued to play saxophone in their musical combo. He loved to dance, hike, fish, travel and play bridge. In lieu of flowers consider contributing in his name to The Britton Fund (which promotes arboriculture research and education in the west—see the at 31883 Success Valley Dr. Porterville, CA 93257. A memorial gathering for friends and family will be held 4:00pm Saturday, October 12th at the home of Ed and Ann Mathias 937 Corbett Canyon, Arroyo Grande.

John Charles Phillips

March 7, 1923 – May 23, 2013

John Charles Phillips passed away on May 23, 2013. He was born on March 7, 1923 which is coincidentally recognized as Arbor Day in California. The trees in our community have longed to thank him for his determined efforts to preserve them in society. He touched many a tree and influenced many more men to preserve and protect them. The future will benefit from his tireless and countless efforts. John was preceded in his departure by his lovely wife of 60 years Roberta Jane Sohner (Phillips). He is survived by his sister Ruth Noble and three children, John, Lynn and Robert. Also survived by three grandsons (Jacob, Jessie and Cobin) and one granddaughter (Jennifer). As well, son in law Randy and daughter in law Edith." For John's full obituary from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, please click here.

Sal Hernandez

March 23, 1969 – February 16, 2013
It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our friend and true tree-ro, Sal Hernandez. A certified arborist and owner of S & H Tree Service in Ramona, he lost his life in a non-tree-related camping incident. Super Sal was an amazing inspiration for all of us in how to best serve our profession. We can honor him in our daily work by sharing his love and passion for people and trees.

Sal, on donating his crew's tree work to local schools: “Imagine if all the contractors helped all the nonprofit organizations,” he said. "There are things in life that money doesn’t fix. There are things that you have to do in life. The money is not the price. To donate makes me happy.”

I first met Sal at the WCISA Tree Climbing Championship in Casa Grande, AZ. It was 5:30am, dark and chilly and we were both bringing our gear from our trucks to the staging area. Sal greeted me with the most cheerful good morning and bright smile I’d seen in a long time. I thought, “Wow, what an encouragement. What a great guy.” It was no surprise when Sal won the Spirit Award for the competition, given to the individual displaying the best attitude. Thank you, Sal. You showed us how to live with a generous and caring heart. We’ll pass it on. – John Eisenhower

Sal will be truly missed. “Super Sal” was indeed super in every aspect of his life. His passion for his profession and love of people is something we can all learn from. He was a great friend and humanitarian who had a unique talent of making people happy. Today I celebrate the life of a great man and a true professional. Rest in peace Sal and may you find many trees to climb in heaven – Frank Saldana

Please visit Sal’s memorial website here.

Scott V. Johnson

September 26, 1959 - October 17, 2012
Scott Vincent Johnson, a longtime resident of Pacific Palisades, passed away peacefully at home on October 17 after a long battle with cancer. He was 53.

Born on September 26, 1959 to Everett and Gloria Johnson, Scott grew up on Friends Street, attended Palisades Elementary and Paul Revere Junior High, and graduated from Palisades High in 1978.

A consummate athlete, Scott turned his childhood love of motorcycles into a career as a professional motocross racer, winning the number-one plate in Southern California in 1980. After earning national number 93 in 1981, Scott was signed by German manufacturer Maico to contest the 1982 AMA Supercross and Motocross National Championships.

In 1984, Johnson moved to Belgium to race and became the first American to win the Belgian national title. Scott also represented America in three United States Grand Prix at Carlsbad Raceway (1983, 1985, 1986). Returning to Belgium in 1987, Scott remained a consistent top finisher and as the token American enjoyed a strong fan base, which in no small way was due his friendly and approachable personality.

After officially retiring from professional racing, Scott followed the career path of his father, Everett (founder of Johnson & Sons Trees) and became certified arborist #600, eventually taking over his father's business, Bay Cities Tree Preservation. Scott continued to serve the community as his father had before him, building a strong reputation and loyal clientele, many of whom came to regard Scott as a friend.

During this period Scott, a true outdoorsman and lover of nature, transferred his passion for motorcycles to mountain bikes and regularly rode the trails and fire roads of the Santa Monica Mountains.

A lifelong athlete and physical fitness enthusiast, Scott met personal trainer and longtime Palisades resident, Tracy Ryan, at the Pacific Athletic Club. The couple married in 2002, and in 2003 they welcomed their son, Ryan, into the world.

In 2009, Scott was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma and was accepted into a clinical trial for a new drug to combat the disease. He defied the odds, with a miracle rebound, surprising the medical community when the cancer went into remission. Following the ordeal, Scott, Tracy and Ryan committed themselves to embracing life and traveling extensively together as a family.

Unfortunately, the cancer returned this past September. Scott succumbed to the disease, but not without a fight that, once again, astonished the entire clinical staff, his friends and family.

Scott will always be remembered as an extremely kind, compassionate and considerate human being, a lover of trees, an extraordinary athlete, an exceptional friend, a wonderful listener, a loving father and devoted husband. Scott's fight with cancer and his ongoing work as a tree specialist inspired him to want to help others.

He was predeceased by his brother Mark (whose son, Eli, owns Johnson Tree Service in the Palisades). In addition to his wife, Tracy, and their nine-year-old son, Ryan, Scott is survived by brothers Mike, Chris and Brad, and sister Michelle, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A service will be held to celebrate Scott's life on Friday, November 2, at 12:30 p.m. at Corpus Christi Church, corner of Sunset and Carey.'

Scott felt very strongly for the Wounded Warrior project and wore a bracelet supporting the organization. A donation in his name may be made to: One may also dedicate a tree planted in Scott's honor: or donate to The Angeles Clinic to support melanoma research:

Nancy Pendergast

August 30, 1955 - September 23, 2012
Nancy Pendergast Niday, devoted mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and dear friend to many, lover of all things of this earth, died unexpectedly September 23, 2012, at her home in Cardiff-by- the-Sea, California. Nancy was born on August 30, 1955 in Lawrence, Massachusetts to Thomas H. Pendergast Jr. and Marguerite M. Pendergast. She attended St. Patrick's School in Lawrence, and graduated from Lawrence High School where she had served her class as President. Subsequently, she attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating with Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy. Nancy moved to California in 1977, settling in the San Diego area, where she established NPN Landscape, a commercial and residential landscape design company that quickly developed an extensive and loyal client base throughout the region.

Nancy was very active in the planning of the 2011 WCISA Conference in La Jolla, California. Nancy and her dedicated team turned the meeting room and exhibit hall into a plant filled sanctuary with a style that is known throughout San Diego. Nancy was an integral part of the 4th Annual Britton Fund Ride connecting our foundation to the venues and groups along the 60 plus mile pathway through the San Diego and Encinitas area. Nancy was passionate about her love for the environment, a tireless volunteers and just an all-around sweetheart. She is missed but loved for all she gave.

Nancy was recognized in her industry for excellence, earning numerous awards and distinctions. Nancy was a licensed contractor and certified arborist. Nancy's strongest love was of her family, and the center of this world was her son, Tyler. He made her proud in so many ways, notably his shared love of the environment, his creativity, artistic accomplishments, athletic skill, and his academic achievement. Nancy's love for Tyler was unconditional, as was his love for her, and which will always be.

In addition to Tyler, Nancy is survived by her father, Thomas Pendergast Jr. and step-mother, Alice (Aldonis)Pendergast of Peabody, Massachusetts; sisters, Ellen Trainer of Beaverton, Oregon, and Susan DiResta of West Newbury, Massachusetts; and brother, Thomas Pendergast III of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Other survivors include her former husband, Gilbert Niday of Hawaii; and stepsons, Troy, also of Hawaii, and Grant and Dusty, both of California; and an extended family of aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins. Nancy was preceded in death by her mother, Marguerite. A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m., on Saturday, September 29, at the City of Encinitas Community Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Room 142A, Encinitas, CA 92024. A Catholic Mass of Burial is being planned in Massachusetts at a later date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Nancy's name to the individual's charity of choice. In addition, friends and family can post fond memories of Nancy, and personal recollections to:

Richard W. Harris

The Western Chapter recently lost one of its giants. Dr. Richard W. Harris passed away at the age of 92. For those of us who knew Dick, no comment is necessary. For those of us who weren’t lucky enough to know him, no comment is sufficient. Dick was that sort of person.

Arborists around the world knew Dick as a member of the faculty at the University of California, Davis where he worked in the Environmental Horticulture Department from 1950 – 1986. In addition, Dick served as director of the Parks and Recreation Administrators Institute from 1960-84 and president of the International Society of Arboriculture. He was the author of Arboriculture – The Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs and Vines, first published in 1983. Dick was one of the founders of the California Tree Failure Report Program.

In a time when most arborists focused on pruning for aesthetic reasons, Dr. Harris expanded on his early training and research in pomology to teach students how to prune young trees to enhance structure. Working with UCD engineers, he tackled the problem of staking and trunk development, demonstrating that placing the stake next to the trunk causes the trunk to grow away from the stake. Representing the ISA, Dick served on the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers and was an author of the 8th edition and CTLA Chair for the 9th edition.

Dick was a devoted husband and father as well as a mentor to students and arborists. To call him a gentleman would not do him justice. Dick had a respectful, thoughtful manner to go along with his knowledge and curiosity.

Share your story about Dr. Harris at our WCISA memorial page,

Henry Martin Donselman

August 11, 1948 - January 29, 2012

Henry Martin Donselman Memorial Website

Sandra Kay Hopp

November 7, 1959 - January 24, 2012
Sandra Kay Hopp, our beloved wife, mother, daughter and sister left us to be with our heavenly Father and all of those who trusted in Jesus as their Savior who have gone before her.  After a long, courageous battle with cancer, she passed away on January 23, 2012.  She was at the Community Hospice House in Hughson, CA at the time of her passing.

Sandy was born November 7th, 1959 in Modesto, CA to Ray and Charlene Heiman. After graduating from Beyer High School in 1977 she went on to receive her AA from Modesto Junior College and her BA in Speech Communication from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. 

On September 21st, 1985, Sandy married the love of her life, Randy Hopp, in San Mateo, CA.  They made their first home there before moving to the Central Coast where she and Randy both graduated from Cal Poly. After graduating, they went on to reside in Oroville, Smith Valley (Nevada) and Don Pedro before settling in Modesto. 

All who knew her will remember Sandy for her beautiful smile and the kindness she extended to everyone. Rarely thinking of herself, her focus was always on other people, even through her battle with cancer. She was an avid reader and a music lover. As an accomplished pianist, she helped lead worship at many of the churches she attended.
Besides providing a warm and loving home for her husband and daughter, Sandy also worked outside the home. Her affability and excellent communication and organizational skills made her the perfect candidate for the varying positions she held from personal assistant to the VP of Visa, assistant to a department head at Cal Poly and most recently, as an assistant to one of the county supervisors in Stanislaus County.

Sandy will be greatly missed by so many.  She is survived by her husband, daughter Amber, parents Ray and Charlene Heiman, brother Ray Jr (& Christine), sister Sheri (& Barry) Christensen, nieces & nephews and their families. 

There will be a memorial service to celebrate her life, on February 4th, 2012 at Calvary Chapel of Modesto, 4300 American Avenue. 
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to Alexander Cohen Hospice House, Hughson, CA.

Burt Sperber passes away

Industry News

The founder and chairman of ValleyCrest Landscape Cos. passed away late last week of complications from surgery.

Chuck Bowen | October 3, 2011 |

One of the landscape industry’s pioneers has passed away. Burt Sperber, founder and chairman of ValleyCrest Landscape Cos., died Sept. 30, Lawn & Landscape has learned.

Sperber, who was named to the 2009 Lawn & Landscape Leadership class, founded ValleyCrest in 1949 and saw the company grow to become one of the largest landscape companies in the world.

"I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. My dad loved each and every one of you. He was so proud of everyone's success. You were part of his family. Thank you for making his life so amazing," wrote Sperber's son, Richard, in an email to employees Saturday.

Richard Sperber took over as ValleyCrest's CEO in 2008.

“There are so many factors that make my father a good leader, but three factors instantly come to mind. He is honest to a fault. He consistently does exactly what he says. That is one of the leading keys to his success,” Richard said in a 2009 profile of his father. “My father genuinely loves this industry. I can't believe how much time he spends helping others in the industry, always making time to return calls and even continue dialogues for a week or more with landscapers all over the country, many of whom he doesn't even know, who consistently ask him for advice.

“Third, he has a love for our employees. He constantly engages and mentors people within our organization. He is on the phone all day long – whether talking to field workers or managers. He loves being there for his people.”

Sperber's funeral will take place Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, Calif. A reception will follow at ValleyCrest’s corporate headquarters in Calabasas.

ValleyCrest released this statement:

Calabasas, Calif. – Burton S. Sperber, FASLA, founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ValleyCrest Landscape Cos., passed away Sept. 30, 2011 at the age of 82 of complications from surgery. He was born May 14, 1929 in Los Angeles. An iconic figure in the landscape industry and respected business and community leader in Los Angeles for decades, he was counted on by titans in business and real estate to bring their projects to life through landscapes. Ultimately, he was revered for having created a world-class organization but preferred more simple recognition for his horticultural expertise as the “head gardener,” and a devout family man.

Sperber and ValleyCrest Landscape circa 1950.

Since founding ValleyCrest in 1949 at the age of 19, he led the family of companies with vision and wisdom through more than six decades of dynamic growth to become the nation’s largest, privately-held integrated landscape services firm. Today, the Calabasas, Calif.-based company is led by his son, President and CEO Richard A. Sperber, who joined his father as co-CEO in 2008, after serving as president and COO of the company starting in 2001, and previously serving as president of the company’s development division for seven years.

“The unexpected passing of my dad came as a complete shock to me, the family and everyone who knew him,” said Richard A. Sperber. “I had the great privilege of working with him side by side every day and saw how he loved nurturing people. Nothing made him happier than watching everyone at ValleyCrest grow and seeing people do great things both inside and outside the company. He always encouraged us to do the right thing and was an amazing family man. I’m taking on the personal responsibility to carry on his legacy and values he instilled in me as I lead the company forward.”

Burt’s hard work, dedication and shrewd decision-making were coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, keen sense of adventure and knack for understanding people. A pioneer in establishing high levels of innovation, professionalism and respect within the landscape industry, Burt was a founding member of several state and national landscape associations and was a Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects (FASLA). He served as a director of Los Angeles Beautiful and was a former director of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

Recognized with awards and honors throughout his career as a landscape architect, contractor, business executive and for his involvement in charitable groups, Burt’s election into the Green Industry Hall of Fame in 2010, and selection for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Contractor of the Year (1999) and the City of Hope Man of the Year "Spirit of Life" Award (1971) reveal his true legacy to business and the community.

Burt got his start in the landscape industry early in life. His father owned a retail nursery, and he was a member of the Future Farmers of America at North Hollywood High School. When Burt was a teenager, he worked after school at the MG Nursery in North Hollywood, Calif., and a Sears, Roebuck and Co. nursery in Los Angeles. In 1949, Burt purchased the MG Nursery business with his father as a partner when the owner, Mossimo Giannulli passed away. Sixty-two years later ValleyCrest has more than 9,000 employees, operations in more than 150 locations nationwide, and is respected around the world. Even at 82, Burt came to work every day, revered by employees as the founder and chairman of a landscape services company that earned a spot on Forbes Magazine’s 2008 list of America’s 500 Largest Private Companies. ValleyCrest is counted on by architects, developers, commercial real estate owners, public agencies, property managers and luxury home builders to help create, build or maintain some of the world’s extraordinary natural environments.

Among the hundreds of celebrated landscape projects in which the company has played a role in bringing to fruition include: Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Getty Center, the Palm Garden at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Grove in Los Angeles, The Garden of Flowing Fragrance at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, Calif. Americana at Brand in Glendale, Calif., Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Wynn Encore and Wynn Las Vegas, CityCenter, Cosmopolitan, Caesar’s Place, and Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sea World Discovery Cove in Orlando, Four Seasons Hualalai Resort in Kailua-Kona, SoundScape Park at Frank Gehry’s New World Symphony in Miami, Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., Hudson River Park in New York, Dallas Center for the Performing Arts’ Winspear Opera House and Wyly Theater in Dallas, Boston’s Central Artery (Big Dig), the U.S. Federal Courthouse in San Diego, the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., venues for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., Florida Marlins Stadium in Miami, AT&T Park in San Francisco, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., and Patriots Place in Foxboro, New England, to name but a few.

Equally passionate and accomplished as a magician, Burt was inducted as a member of the prestigious Inner Magic Circle of England, the highest degree a magician can earn, and was one of only a few Americans to achieve such elite ranking. He was also named Magician of the Year in 2011. His passion for magic encompassed a lifelong pursuit of collecting and writing magic books. His extensive collection is one of the largest in the country and includes rare books dating back as far as the 1500’s.

Sperber with Lady Bird Johnson.

Over his life Burt was active in many efforts to build and support the Jewish community in Los Angeles. He helped to build Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge, where he was made a lifetime member. Years later he was instrumental in the building of the University of Judaism, now American Jewish University, located on Mulholland above the 405 freeway. He was also involved in countless community, charitable and educational endeavors including USC’s School of Architecture and Cal Poly Pomona’s Horticulture program.

A decorated Army veteran who served as a Master Sergeant in the Korean War, Burt is survived by his wife Charlene, and their three children, Ellice Sperber, Michelle Sperber and Richard A. Sperber, a sister Deanna Colton, and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Wendie Jo Sperber, and brother, Stuart J. Sperber. At 16 he met Charlene, was married in 1949 and for 62 years enjoyed a perfect partnership in life, along the way building a family and business. Charlene’s practical management skills complemented Burt’s hard work ethic and outgoing personality that earned respect from customers. That meticulous attention to customer service is an approach that endures as a core value of ValleyCrest today. The creative and adventurous side of Burt was balanced with his deep commitment as a native of Los Angeles to make the city a better place for all.

A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 at Mount Sinai Memorial Park and Mortuary in Burbank, followed by a reception at ValleyCrest’s corporate headquarters in Calabasas. The Sperber family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to weSPARK Cancer Support Center at: 13520 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, Calif., 91423, 818-906-3022,

George Kiloran - 3/4/1941 - 12/28/2010

George Kiloran

George Reynolds 69, passed away on Dec 28th from lung cancer. He left behind his life partner of 25 years, Anne Thomas, his 96 year old mother, Ann Bailey, sisters Margot Bradbury and Heidi Bailey, and two step sons Michael and Robert Thomas.

Geeorge moved to Sonora, Ca. in 1990 at the request of Ross Gray. Ross was very concerned about the bark beetle infestation in the pine trees in Tuolumne County. George saved thousands of trees in both Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties in the twenty years he was in Sonora. In 2009 business slowed down and George moved to Mexico to go sailing but was still able to help save trees with the help of his apprentice, Nate Berner. George has passed his business to Nate of Calaveras Tree Care who will continued doing what George did best, save trees.

George will be remembered for the stories he told so well. Even his lectures he gave to his clients were never boring. For those of you who were lucky enough to get to know George I'm sure you will agree there will never be another person like him that had so much passion when it came to saving trees. He will be missed but never forgotten.

If you would like to leave a message with Anne you may do so at

Rob Goss 1960-2010

Rob Goss

Rob Goss, owner of Wilderness Tree in Victorville, CA and tree care advocate suffered a fatal heart attack on 12/31/10. ISA Certified Arborist WE-1900A - Rob was very involved in promoting Modern Arboriculture in his community – he was a great guy and friend – we will miss him.


Antonio Barajs 10/17/77 - 11/15/2010

On Monday November 15, 2010 Traverso Tree tragically lost one of their beloved employees, Antonio Barajas. Antonio leaves behind his wife, Veronica and 4 month old son Antonio Alejandro. The Antonio Barajas Memorial Fund is set up through Bank of America. Donations can be made at any Bank of America branch- just ask for the business account called "Antonio Barajas Memorial Fund" to make a donation.

Noah Kwolek 1971-2010

The Chico Arboricultural community and Western Chapter suffered the loss of a dear friend on September 6, 2010. Certified Tree Worker, Noah Kwolek lost is life on 9/6/10 in an early morning vehicular crash. He's been a certified since 1993, and competed in a few Western Chapter climbing competitions.

Celebration of Life will be held, Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 11:00AM at the Chico Grange Hall, 2775 Nord Avenue, Chico, CA. This is the Nord Avenue off of West East Avenue at the railroad tracks. (Not the Nord Avenue which is also Hwy 32.) Noah was such a good man on so many levels and he is SO missed by our community. Noah built his own business, Arborist Enterprises. He was a contractor and arborist. Not only did he run his own successful tree business, but so many other tree companies in Chico and Paradise would sub-contract Noah's services. He was one of the best climbers and hardest workers, not to mention a JOY to work with and be friends with. Noah's business grew and grew as he developed strong friendships with so many of his clients. He would chat with his customers for hours and I know they would look forward to have him over. He had elderly clients who sincerely enjoyed their time with Noah. He always took his time. Noah was trusted and loved by everyone.

He devoted ALL of his time to his business. It was his #1 priority. He worked long, hard, grueling hours on Arborist Enterprises. He took business classes during what little free time he had. He sacrificed his own health at times working in over 100 degree weather, getting heat stroke. Noah kept going, even to a fault. He was bidding jobs on Labor Day and then lost his life. Noah was not an employee of any other tree company...He was an owner of his own successful, well-liked and trusted tree company. Noah also took it upon himself to travel to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. He used his skills to aide in disaster relief as it pertains to tree work. He stopped everything he was doing and drove by himself because he knew they were in great need. We worked with Noah often, as did so many other local tree companies. There is a camaraderie amongst the tree guys in this area. Noah is missed by so many of us, not only for his amazing skills and work ethic, but for his excitement, honesty, contagious smile, and kind heart.

Mario Nicoletta - 1973-2010

Dear Rose,

I'm writing you today about the passing of Mr Mario Nicoletta who was a western chapter certified tree climber. Mario was employed with the City Of Sunnyvale since December, 2000. He was a loyal family man and a truly dedicated tree worker who held high standards . He will be missed. Mario left knowing he always did his best for the community he worked for. R.I.P 1973- 2010.

James LeMasters

Marcos Schneider - 1953-2010

Mark Schneider

We are sad to announce that certified arborist Mark Schneider passed away on Tuesday, May 18. Mark was a dedicated arborist and a good honest man who always did his best to help others. He leaves the world a better place than he found it. Visit his memorial website at

Marcos Schneider Memorial Website (1953-2010)

Roger Garrigue.jpgRoger Garrigue (b. Oct. 26, 1922, d. May 30, 2010). Roger Garrigue grew up in Toulouse, France and served 6 years in the French Navy on the submarine Argo. During WWII, to avoid capture by the Germans, his submarine sailed from Dakar, Africa to the United States on peanut oil where the crew later assisted the U.S. Navy with their Submarine Squadrons in New London, CT and Key West, FL. Afterward, he served one year with the U.S. Army Public Relations Service in Europe. He became a proud United States citizen in 1947.

Roger fell in love with Margaret Snellbaker and they married in November of 1944 in Philadelphia. They were married and had three children: Roger, Garry, and Nancy. Roger became a widow in 1974 when his wife died of cancer. In 1976, he married Marjorie Rosati. Marge, as she was known, was very active in the Shady Ladies of ISA. Together they loved to travel in their RV, go camping and fishing, play cribbage, visit friends, and go to ISA conventions. They were very happily married for 33 years until Marge passed away in September 2009.

Roger developed a love for trees when he began working as a tree surgeon in Philadelphia in 1948. It was here in Philadelphia that he got the nickname "Frenchy" because of his strong French accent.  He and his family moved to Los Angeles where he continued to work as a tree surgeon, first with California Tree Service, and then with the Los Angeles Street Tree Division. He was involved with the Street Tree Seminar and became director of it in 1977. After 27 years of service, and with much education along the way, he retired from the City of Los Angeles in 1983.
Roger's involvement with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) began in 1969. He served in all the Western Chapter's offices becoming president in 1979, and then held offices on the international board, ultimately becoming President of ISA in 1992. During his tenure, he radically increased membership as well as donations to the Research Trust Fund. He also assisted in the development and growth of the European branch of ISA even helping the tree planning for Disney in Paris, France.  His goal in life was to teach others about the all encompassing beauty and purpose of trees. In his own words the day before he passed, he said, “I taught hundreds of people that trees are one of God’s greatest gifts. Tell them, I love trees now more than ever and I will pray for ISA from up in heaven.”

These are just some of the things that Roger did, but what really counted was his character. He was a faithful man, tenderhearted, and loyal to his faith, family, and friends. He was a diligent worker whose motto was in part, “Where there is a will, there is a way,” which he demonstrated in his creativity in problem solving. He had a great sense of humor and gentleness about him while being a perfect gentleman who loved to care for others. He always wanted to give to others, even when he was sick, and was always grateful for others and their special relationships. He would want to thank and bless each and every person who knew him for their friendship and love.

Roger’s memorial service was held Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 9:30am at Scripps Kensington Retirement Home chapel, 1516 South Marengo Ave., Alhambra, CA 91803. If you would like to further Roger’s passion for trees to others, please make a donation in his honor to the TREE Fund.  Donations can be made online at or by mail to TREE Fund, 552 S. Washington St., Suite 109, Naperville, IL 60540.           

Next time you watch a leaf fall to the ground – think of Frenchy and then…carry on!

Yours in trees,

Rose New.bmp



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