By Steve Roark Tri-State Outside
August 7, 2014
Our community recently lost a great citizen who championed a lot of good that has taken place in our community.
If you knew Edwin Robertson, you knew at least some of the manifold things he was doing that benefited people. From my perspective, he was chairman of the Harrogate Tree Board and an ardent supporter of urban forestry. He spearheaded getting Harrogate’s greenway trail constructed and then greening it up with a lot of trees. He also had a hand in planting trees along all the major roads through Harrogate. I mean that literally, because he was no stranger to a shovel.
Both literally and metaphorically, Edwin was a tree planter. And a good tree planter requires a certain persona. For one you need to have faith that the 12 inch seedling you plant today will survive and eventually grow into a large tree. Edwin planted or helped plant a lot of beneficial projects. The greenway, Servolution Health Services and Stand in the Gap are just a few, and to list them all would take up the rest of this article and then some.
Another personality trait of a good tree planter is selflessness, because chances are he is not going to live long enough to see the full benefit….but someone else will. There’s an old English proverb that sums this up: “He who plants trees loves others besides himself.” Edwin helped start lot of ministries that will help others for many decades.
Another trait of a good tree planter is humility. He knows that God is really the one that plants and nurtures trees to reach majestic heights, but he (the planter) is just happy to have an opportunity to help. Edwin did not like notoriety, and would deflect credit for things to God or to someone else.
Another mindset of a good tree planter is an understanding that big things start with small things. A 300 foot tall redwood tree that weighs 4, 000 tons starts with a seed the same size as a tomato seed. Edwin was what chemistry geeks call a catalyst: something that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction… in other words it makes things happen. Edwin made a lot of beneficial things happen, and they started with tenaciously pushing and nurturing little things along until they took hold and grew bigger.
A favorite story that Edwin often told was of a boy walking on the beach that had starfish recently washed up on shore from a storm. Starfish as far as the eye could see. The boy was walking along, picking one up and throwing it back into the ocean. A pessimistic man was there and watched the boy for a while, and finally came up to him and said “look at all these starfish! Do you think that you’re throwing a few back is going to make any difference?” The boy paused a moment, picked up a starfish, gave it a Frisbee fling and watched it sail back into the ocean. Then he turned back to the man and said, “It mattered to that one.” Edwin has helped a lot of starfish around here, and his legacy of a good planter will grow tall and spread its canopy over our area for years to come. I’m thankful we had such a man.