Departed Friends

Guy Sternberg's picture

This past year we lost three of our prominent, longtime members. Richard Earle, together with his late wife Jo, had been involved with many of our activities. Together they helped to organize the Winchester conference in 2003, and they were very active participants in some of our European Oak Open Days and tours, including the Spain tour. Frankham, their historic farm in Dorset, England, was the home for several oaks grown from IOS seed as well as some native veteran trees. It continues in operation under the care of their daughters Susan and Elizabeth.  

Michel Decalut was the founder and operator of a nursery and collection of rare plants named Waasland in Nieukerken, near Antwerp, Belgium. He was active in selecting and propagating oak cultivars and volunteered many hours helping the nearby historic chateau and arboretum of Hof ter Saksen with their trees.

Most recently, Daniel Dumont passed away while working in his oak collection. Daniel was one of the first IOS people I met during my first visit to Europe two decades ago. The hospitality and enthusiasm shown by Daniel and his wife Arlette and daughter Marie were a memorable introduction to the Old World for me. He owned several properties in and near Mohiville, Belgium. Each was densely planted with oaks (and some "lesser" trees) from around the world, and he would not rest until I had seen every one. Many of these were very small when he and I first met in the early 1990s, and had become nearly mature specimens the most recent time I saw them, in 2010. Several of the oaks in our own collection were obtained through his efforts to collect seed or take me to unique places where I could collect my own. [Editors's note: an account of the Oak Open Day held in September 2010 at Daniel Dumont's arboretum was published in International Oaks No. 22 and has been posted on the website.

I have been the grateful recipient of the hospitality of each of these fine people on several occasions, staying in their homes, hearing some of their tree stories, being toured around their regions, and leaving with some of their acorns. Decalut and Dumont, together with Stephane Brame of France, were the first three oak people I met during my very first oak trip to Europe nearly two decades ago. Here is a memory of that trip -- left to right: myself, Decalut, Brame, and Dumont at Decalut's Arboretum Waasland in 1996. 

The image below shows Richard and Jo Earle at their Frankham Farm in Dorset in 2003. 

Guy Sternberg