Community

Arbour Day’s leafy tribute

A tree will be planted in memory of Tom Paonessa, who passed away last August at the age of 103, during the Township’s Arbour Day celebrations on April 17.  - John Gordon/Langley Times file photo
A tree will be planted in memory of Tom Paonessa, who passed away last August at the age of 103, during the Township’s Arbour Day celebrations on April 17.
— image credit: John Gordon/Langley Times file photo

The Langley pilot of a water bomber who died fighting a wildfire, and a Langley City firefighter who died after he was struck by a train, will be among those memorialized in the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

Trees will be planted for them and a number of other local residents during Arbour Day on Sunday, April 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the arboretum, which is on Fraser Highway, immediately east of the new Nicomekl Bridge.

The pilot was Tim Whiting, 58, who died with his co-pilot, Brian Tilley of Edmonton, when their plane crashed south of Lytton on Aug. 1 last year, during the height of the forest fire season.

The firefighter who died was Ron Dunkley. The 34-year-old was in Seattle with a group of fellow firefighters for a Seahawks game when he was struck and dragged by a train on Nov. 6  last year. He died six weeks later, on Jan. 4.

Memorial trees will also be planted for Gail Aitken, a volunteer and member of the Township’s Recreation, Culture and Parks committee; Bunty Clements who, with her husband George, founded the Fur-Bearer Defenders Society and led the campaign against leg-hold traps; Milner pioneer Esther Davis; Tommy Paonessa, a boxing pioneer and member of the B. C. Sports Hall of Fame; Cindy Bury, photographer and philanthropist; Jim Ross, a former County Line Elementary school teacher, George Antone, a Kwantlen First Nation elder, and Ed Seibel, a pioneer farmer.

On March 28, Township council approved spending $300 for each tree planted in memory of residents who had made significant contributions to the community.

A number of events are planned during the Arbour Day event, and residents can assist in planting trees.

Arborists and master gardeners will be on hand to offer advice on tree and plant layout, pruning, and soil analysis. Youngsters can enjoy storytelling, face painting, and bucket truck rides, and the Arboretum and Botanical Society of Langley will hold a spring plant sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in support of the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Families attending Community Arbour Day will receive a free bag of compost material to take home.

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