May 15, 2012

Yarmouth man to be buried in casket made from tree he revered

Frank Knight, who cared for New England's oldest known American elm for 52 years, dies at 103.

By Kelley Bouchard
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Frank Knight
click image to enlarge

Frank Knight stands in front of what was then New England’s oldest elm tree, “Herbie,” in 2009. Knight took care of Herbie for five decades, and when the diseased tree had to be cut down in 2010, he said, “Nothing lasts forever. We had a great, beautiful relationship.”

2009 File Photo/The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Frank Knight saw Herbie, the 217-year-old Yarmouth tree, taken down in January 2010.

2010 File Photo/John Patriquin

Additional Photos Below

"He was a delightful person," Tupper said.

Many townspeople admired Knight, who made a point of welcoming neighbors soon after they moved in, even in his later years. One Portland Press Herald reader posted this comment Monday on an online story about Knight's death:

"A car pulled into our driveway and Frank got out of the passenger side and introduced himself," the reader wrote. "As we were talking, he pointed to a large tree on my neighbor's property and said, 'That tree's dead, it just doesn't know it yet.' Two weeks later, it fell on my car. The man knew his stuff."

Today, the Maine Forest Service recognizes folks who share Knight's concern for trees with its annual Frank Knight Excellence in Community Forestry Award.

Deb Hopkins, who led the Herbie Project when Knight retired as tree warden, received the award in 2010.

"Frank was my mentor and my friend," said Hopkins, 56, who is a hairdresser in town.

"He enjoyed being with you as much as you enjoyed being with him. You were special just because you were there with him."

There are nine elm trees left in Yarmouth, Hopkins said, and she's carefully watching over all of them, especially the one in front of the First Baptist Church on Main Street.

"Frank said it was almost as beautiful as Herbie," she said.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Herbie the elm was still standing tall in August 2009.

2009 File Photo/John Patriquin


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