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Mourners remember 100-year-old elm tree

A somber mood filled the church as the Rev. David Johnson delivered the eulogy to the handful of mourners.

"Is there a more unnerving sound than the hideous mechanistic screech of a buzz saw at work?" Johnson asked, quoting from the poetry of May Sarton. "It is an anti-sound, it does not fit with any landscape."

The deceased was a 100-year-old elm tree, cut down earlier this month near the church to make way for construction of a school.

Candles burned and flowers surrounded a slab of the doomed tree set up as a memorial on the altar during the service Sunday.

The felling ended a 19-month battle to save the tree, which stood on the border between the grounds of the First Parish Unitarian Church and the construction site.

Officials on the school's oversight committee felt large boughes would hang too close to the spot where a cafeteria was to be built. Bad weather could bring a branch down onto the schoolyard. So the elm was removed, along with several other trees.

Elm trees are cherished for the shade they provide. Many reach a height of 75 to 100 feet and some live for more than 200 years.