Colby Rucker:
Tribute to the grand old Ent
  Robert Leverett
  Nov 24, 2004 06:52 PST 


   It is with the deepest sorrow that I must inform you of the passing
of our dearest friend and the ENTS icon and patriarch, Colby Rucker. His
devoted daughter Jennifer informed me this morning. This day represents
another turning point in the history of ENTS.

   For those of us who knew him, words are unnecessary to express our
shared grief at Colby's passing and the sense of irreplaceable loss. For
those of you who did not have the privilege of knowing him, Colby was
one of a kind. He WAS the Grand Ent, the spirit of ENTS, the
organization and movement's very heart and soul. ENTS without Colby was,
and is, as unthinkable as America without the bald eagle.

   Colby was both a renaissance man of the trees and a down-to-earth
season through season custodian of the forests and trees, be they
natural woodlands or in urban parks. Colby was a master nature observer
who recognized natural habitats and the processes that shaped those
habitats. Nothing escaped his notice. His experience and skills as an
arborist and a grounds keeper, among other skills, gave him a base of
practical knowledge that insured his observations were never to be taken
lightly. When Colby spoke, the rest of us listened.    

   Colby was also a poet whose thoughts about nature had a heart-felt
quality. They always left one smiling and nodding the head in silent
agreement. His words struck resonant chords and hinted of a deeply
spiritual nature, without ever sounding didactic. Colby was an advanced
spirit, an old soul, and how he will be missed.   

Colby's role in making Ents into what it is today hardly has to be
stated. One has only to read his many posts to understand the immense
impact that he had on the shape and course of ENTS. But he also worked
with and through other organizations. His role in getting American
Forests to move forward toward strengthening their rules for the
National Register of Big Trees cannot be overstated. He was a behind the
scene force, perhaps THE behind the scenes force.

With Colby's passing, the Rucker index takes on a new level of
significance and Colby's Corner becomes hallowed ground. And oh, how I
wished we had taped his superb lecture at the April 2002 ENTS workshop
at Cook Forest State Park. What a comedian he turned out to be. He had
us rolling, while imparting critical insights that nobody attending
could fail to understand. Although I had thoroughly valued his
contributions to ENTS, it was then that I fully realized what a gem
Colby was. He WAS the grant Ent and there could never be another.

   I'm sure that many stories are destined to pass through cyberspace in
tribute to Colby and Coly's importance to ENTS. Now, I can't help but
think that there is, out there, a forming contingent of guardian Ents
watching over us from the other side. For today is the birthday of my
dear departed wife Jani who was one of the earliest Ent spirits and a
co-conceptualizer of ENTS. Although they met only once, Colby had
immense affection for Jani and that affection was returned in kind. What
more needs to be said. One great spirit recognized another.

   In our private communications, Colby often referred to me as his
brother. I felt so honored when he did that and of course the feeling of
brotherhood was returned - at the deepest level. Now I must sadly
reflect that no more will we communicate in private, laughing at our
fiobles, strategizing, and sharing big tree discoveries and stories.
Just two old geezers imagining themselves sitting on a porch in a swing,
sipping tea, and reminiscing about the old days when "we really knew how
to measure trees." But alas, that sharing was never to be. Instead,
Colby now joins two other great Ents.

   Dr. Michael Perlman April    1998

   Jani Leverett        December 2003

   Colby Rucker         November 2004

   May you rest in peace, Colby, old friend and brother. You now watch
over us and we resolve to make you proud.

Your friend and brother,

Re: Tribute to the grand old Ent   Miles Lowry
  Nov 24, 2004 11:03 PST 

Bob, et al,
I never met the man, yet felt a deep connection to him through his
words on this site. Is there a chance that someone out there has
saved his correspondences so that they could be put in a
collection of his wisdom?

Miles Lowry
Re: Tribute to the grand old Ent   Edward Frank
  Nov 24, 2004 14:18 PST 

Miles, and everyone,

I met Colby once at Cook Forest in 2003. But I have corresponded with him
on numerous occasions. I have always enjoyed reading his emails and posts
to the discussion list. There is a separate section of poems and articles
written by Colby on the website in the section called Colby's corner. I
have included virtually all of the posts Colby made to ENTS somewhere on
the website, but the core of his material is in his corner. There also is
a search engine on the home page. If you want to find other references to
him on the website, type his name in the search box.

Ed Frank
Re: Tribute to the grand old Ent   Michele Wilson
  Nov 24, 2004 21:22 PST 
My condolences upon learning of the loss of your friend.


RE: Tribute to the grand old Ent   Dale J. Luthringer
  Nov 28, 2004 15:54 PST 


I am very grateful that I was able to take the opportunity to take a few
walks in the woods with Colby. He had a unique perspective of the
various forest communities and continually challenged me to think
"outside of the box". He was always devising new ways and means to
answer questions and devise new ones.

I will truly miss this grand woodsmen.

The Rucker Tuliptree   Will Blozan
  Dec 06, 2004 17:24 PST 

I would like to name, in honor of our dearly departed grand ENTS Colby
Rucker, the tallest known tuliptree on Baxter Creek the "Rucker Tuliptree".
Colby was a huge fan of the species, and often wrote eloquently of the
architecture and growth of the tree. His keen observations as an arborist
and a naturalist have inspired many ideas and thoughts in my head about
maximum height growth and the effect of age on canopy stature and form. I
feel it is a fitting tribute to the man and his passion, and will
memorialize his contributions to the understanding of our eastern forests.

May the tree continue to grow and teach us lessons we seek, and those we do
not yet know. Colby, may you rest in blissful peace my friend, in the
soothing shade of your arboreal companions.

Remembering Colby on a cold January day   Robert Leverett
  Jan 24, 2005 07:05 PST 


During the long cold of January, it seems appropriate to slow down a
bit and reflect on what has been happening in ENTS. The ENTS bulb burns
brightly. But as we contemplate our growing successes, my thoughts can't
help but turn to our dear departed friend Colby Rucker. I know that
Colby would have been invigorated with the poetry, the tree-music
connection, the range of scientific topics, and our intense new focus
on our measuring mission. I think that Colby would be beaming with
pride. Perhaps from his present perch, he is now. I'd so like to think
that he is.

In the latter years of his physical life, when I became privileged to
know him, I got the impression that Colby had been lonely to have
someone to regularly talk to about his passion, the trees. Though he had
a practical side, he found little kinship with those whose line of
thinking is that trees are here only for our personal use. Colby saw
trees in the grander scheme of creation. His wisdom ran deep. I do
believe that ENTS provided Colby with an opportunity to mingle with
kindred spirits and mingle he did. But more than just mingle, he
contributed to our mission and the list discussions in the most
important of ways. On a more personal level, he always provided wise
counsel to me both on and off the list. He appropriately cautioned me
when I let the list stray into dangerous waters through the contentious
forestry debates. He was right and I was wrong, but he never ceased
being my brother and attempting to steer us back from the brink. Colby
was no quiter.

   Colby was at his best when he thought about habitat and correlated
what his eye saw to the numbers we were collecting. He lent his name to
one of our most widely used statistics, the Rucker index, all the while
feeling uncomfortable at hearing his name. He was a humble man.

   However, Colby was also at his best when he was musing eloquently
about the trees. His poetry was poignant and heart felt. It also was
genuine. In reading Colby's words, one feels the passing of the seasons.
One senses the moods of nature in ways that are very real, yet poetic
and metaphorical.

Colby was a gem and we, his friends, miss him so much.