YARMOUTH — One of the town’s most revered citizens, former Tree Warden Frank Knight, died this morning at the age of 103.

A dedicated and active community member for decades, Knight died in hospice care following a long illness, said Town Manager Nat Tupper.

Knight was best known for his 50-year effort to save a 217-year-old American elm tree, nicknamed “Herbie,” which stood at East Main Street and Yankee Drive.

The tree, thought to have been the oldest of its kind in New England, had Dutch elm disease and was finally cut down in January 2010.

Knight, then 101, was there to see it happen. When asked if he was sad to see the tree go, Knight said no.

”Nothing lasts forever,” Knight said. “We had a great, beautiful relationship, and I thank God every night for it.”

Tupper described Knight as a person with a brilliant mind and a  genuine sense of caring for others.

“He was a delightful person,” Tupper said.

Deb Hopkins, a friend, told the Associated Press that Knight will be laid to rest in a coffin made from Herbie’s wood.