PORT ANGELES — Wood from an ancient tree has been returned to its owners in the form of finished bowls.
Members of the Strait Turners, a North Olympic Peninsula wood-turners group, presented several bowls made of madrone wood from the huge tree at Ted’s Tree Park, 231 W. Eighth St., to owners John and Jackie Miller on Nov. 29, said Tracy McCallum, a member of the wood-turners group.
At 85-feet tall, a circumference of more than 21 feet and a crown spread of at least 95 feet, the tree was one of the largest in Washington state. It was officially estimated at about 400 years old, although some, including McCallum, figure it was older, perhaps centuries older.
The madrone tree was taken down a year ago after arborist Travis Waddell of Pacific Northwest Tree Service determined it had finally died.The tree died soon after the death of its caretaker, Virginia Serr, at the age of 93. She had bought the 7,000 square-foot lot around the tree in 1999 and turned it into Ted’s Tree Park in memory of her late husband, Ted Serr, who died in 1997.
She said her husband, a dentist, had greatly admired the tree as he drove past it on West Eighth Street on his way to work for 20 years. He worried that someone would take it down and so his widow thought preserving the tree a fitting memorial to him. She cared for the tree consistently until she died.
In 2013, arborist James Causton of Port Angeles — who had worked since 1990 to help it, winning in 2000 the International Society of Arboriculture, Pacific Northwest Chapter, Individual Arborist Award in part because of his preservation efforts — said that the monolithic tree was terminally ill with a root fungus caused by excessive groundwater.
The last green branch of the tree succumbed about two months after Serr’s death in March 2020, said her son-in-law John Miller, whose wife, Jackie, inherited the lot and the towering madrone from her mother,.
The tree which shaded half of the busy arterial was a potential danger to its neighbors, pedestrians, passing cars and children attending a nearby pre-school, the Millers decided and so they, reluctantly, had it removed.
John Miller talked of feeling sick to his stomach as he watched crews with North Star Earthworks and Pacific Northwest Tree Service take the tree down over a period of four days last December.
“The tree has been in the family a long time,” he said.
They purposely left the trunk and some major branches standing with the thought that sometime someone might want to sculpt it into something as extraordinary as the tree itself had been.
It is still waiting for that to happen, but a good portion of the wood that came down went to the Strait Turners for wood-turning projects by it’s members.
“The turners used some of the wood to make three beautiful bowls to give to John and Jackie Miller and Andy Pittman to honor their dedication and respect for this venerable creature, Ted’s Tree,” McCallum said.
McCallum and fellow Strait Turners’ members John Elliott, Jackie Ledoux and Valerie Henschel met with the Millers under the tree to present the bowls.
Arborist Andy Pittman of North Star Earthworks could not attend the presentation but also received a bowl, McCallum said.
“It was a solemn affair, honoring the tree, those who maintained it, and those who took it down,” McCallum said.
“Ted’s Tree will not be forgotten, but live on in the objects that are being made from it.”
Former and present Peninsula Daily News staff members, as well as Tracy McCallum of Strait Turners, contributed to this story.