Maple tree planted in honor of Kelley
Katharine Kelley's memory will live on just outside her home away from home, the Baldwin City Public Library.
The Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce had a ceremony to honor the late Kelley, 96, who died Sept. 27 from a stroke, and a maple tree was planted. It's just outside the window of the library where Kelley loved to look out and watch the birds, one of her many passions.
"I think Martha was pleased and Edwin was to," said long-time Kelley friend Sandra Johnson about Kelley's 100-year-old sister who attended the ceremony and her son, Edwin Smith. "They both thought it was a pretty tree. It's the only one in town with red leaves on it."
That was a standard joke of the day as Baldwin heads toward the 48th Annual Maple Leaf Festival Saturday and Sunday with most of the town's famed maple trees still lacking color. But, Katharine's tree will help that and in other ways.
"This has been so hard on everyone," said Johnson. "It's been hard on Edwin. I do miss her. You do, too. Everyone at the library misses her. We can look from the office in the library and see the whole thing. It's really cool."
Chamber of commerce representative Sherri Caldwell made the remarks for the ceremony.
"We're dedicating the tree to Katharine Kelley today," said Caldwell. "We are planting it in front of her window today. It should bring livid color every year. She always wanted to watch the birds.
"We're hoping her family members and friends can enjoy this in the future," she said.
That was followed by the joke.
"And, it's turning color," said Donald Grinnell, who provided and planted the tree. "It's the only one in town."
Grinnell, who runs a nursery and landscaping business in rural Douglas County, donated the autumn blaze maple tree and his labor to plant it. An autumn blaze maple is a cross between a silver maple and red maple, he said, and provides beautiful color while being more sturdy. He has done several landscaping projects in Baldwin and jumped at the chance to provide the tree.
"I thought it was a good thing to do," he said.
Grinnell explained that the reason the tree just planted had changed to its fall colors already while other maple trees haven't is because its base has been in a burlap bag above ground while awaiting planting. That left it more susceptible to the cooler temperatures needed to spark the color change.
Also as part of the ceremony, Caldwell presented Martha Smith with a bouquet of flowers. She thanked everyone who attended the ceremony.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank everyone."
Her son, Edwin, thought the location of the tree was good and that Kelley would have liked it.
"Yes, she would," he said. "It's a reasonable place."