Let the pine be sacred’
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
In 1971, Dr. Seuss wrote of a mythical creature, the Lorax, who protected the Truffula Trees from development and industry.
While the Lorax’s mission has mostly lived in the minds of children, Summerville has had it’s own real-life “Lorax” who’s worked to protect the pines for more than 30 years.
Dick Sutton was honored for his service with the town at last Friday’s Arbor Day celebration. Three longleaf pine trees were planted in his honor.
More than 50 people gathered for the ceremony at the Cummins Theological Seminary where the trees were planted. Six people spoke about Sutton’s contributions to the Town, mostly touching on his service with the Tree Advisory Protection Committee.
“Dick served on the tree committee before there even was a tree committee,” said guest speaker Norman Brunswig, who worked with Sutton at Audubon South Carolina.
Sutton’s family filled two rows of seats at the celebration, making it a success in the eyes of Faye Campbell, who organized the event.
“It meant something and that’s what we wanted, I think he felt all of that,” she said.
Mayor Bill Collins was one of many who spoke of Sutton’s love of the trees.
“Dick was so fascinated with pine trees when he got here, he couldn’t believe how fast they grew,” he said.
“It’s Arbor Day and I can’t think of a more appropriate person to honor.”
According to Town Planner Jessi Shuler, the Tree Advisory Protection Committee oversees Summerville’s grand trees, often visiting the sites to look over the plants and review requests to prune or remove them.
Although in his nineties, Sutton only stopped attending committee meetings last year after a decline in his health. He is still an honorary member of the group.
During the ceremony the mayor presented a proclamation declaring Arbor Day. The Town has taken particular pride in the occasion for the past 32 years, during which time its been recognized nationally as a designated Tree City USA.
That’s no surprise to most; after all, Summerville is commonly referred to as the “Flowertown in the Pines” and its motto, “sacra pinus esto,” translates to “let the pine be sacred.”
The Flowertown Garden Club and the Town partnered to host the event.
“It’s great that we can join hands with the Town to make the [Arbor Day] event bigger and better,” Campbell said.
To commemorate the occasion, the Summerville High School ROTC presented the colors at the event and students from Rollings Middle School of the Arts performed the National Anthem.
When it became time to plant the pines, the children eagerly grabbed shovels. And, with a little assistance from their family, Sutton and his wife Rosemary also helped plant the trees.
“The longleaf pine is the king of the southern pines. In fact, it possesses many of the same qualities of our honoree,” said Brunswig.
“Dick, you’re our Lorax, and we’re so thankful for you.”