Frank The Tree Man A Knight

October 17, 1908May 14, 2012

Frank, The Tree Man, 103 YARMOUTH -- Frank A. Knight, 103, a resident of Yarmouth, died on May 14, 2012, at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. He was born in Pownal on Oct. 17, 1908, the son of Frank A. Knight and Kate Hodsdon Knight. He attended school in Pownal and graduated from North Yarmouth Academy. His education continued at the University of Maine and graduated with a B.S. degree in Forestry. After working with the paper industry he began his own business as a pulpwood and timber dealer, land clearing contractor and blueberry grower. In 1933 he married Frances Mann of Yarmouth. His wife of over 60 years died in 1994. Frank was active in community affairs and served in many positions. He was a member of the First Parish Congregational Church for over 60 years and treasurer of the Ministerial Fund for 30 years, a member of first Yarmouth Planning Board and the Conservation Committee. Frank served as a trustee for North Yarmouth Academy for 26 years, the Merrill Memorial Library, Riverside Cemetery 30 plus years, and the Robert W. Boyd Award Fund for over 40 years. In 1983 Frank was publicly honored with the Latchstring Award for service to the community. In 1956 Frank was appointed as a volunteer Tree Warden for the town of Yarmouth, a position which he held for over 52 years. He may be best remembered for his interest, work and dedication to help care for and preserve elm trees, specifically, the largest elm tree in New England, the famous 'Herbie.' In 2010 Frank was honored to be named the Grand Marshall of the Yarmouth Clam Festival Parade. Survivors include his son, Richard with his wife Joyce of North Yarmouth; two grandchildren, Daniel and his wife Sara, and Andrea Knight; along with two great-grandchildren, Maddie and Annie; and a niece, Meredith Dalessandro. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, May 19, 2012, at 2 p.m., at the First Parish Congregational Church, 116 Main St., Yarmouth. A reception will follow in the church. Please visit to share your condolences, memories and tributes with Frank's family. In lieu of flowers, those desiring may contribute to an (a) organization of choice or to Hospice.


'Herbie' the elm's caretaker dies at 103 By Kelley Bouchard Staff Writer

YARMOUTH — One of the town's most revered citizens, former Tree Warden Frank Knight, died this morning at the age of 103.

click image to enlargeIn this December 2009photo, Frank Knight, then 101, stands in front of an elm tree known as "Herbie" in Yarmouth.


click image to enlargeFrank Knight in an August 2009 photo.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

Select images available for purchase in the Maine Today Photo Store A dedicated and active community member for decades, Knight died in hospice care following a long illness, said Town Manager Nat Tupper.

Knight was best known for his 50-year effort to save a 217-year-old American elm tree, nicknamed "Herbie," which stood at East Main Street and Yankee Drive.

The tree, thought to have been the oldest of its kind in New England, had Dutch elm disease and was finally cut down in January 2010.

Knight, then 101, was there to see it happen. When asked if he was sad to see the tree go, Knight said no.

''Nothing lasts forever," Knight said. "We had a great, beautiful relationship, and I thank God every night for it."

Tupper described Knight as a person with a brilliant mind and a genuine sense of caring for others.

"He was a delightful person," Tupper said.

Deb Hopkins, a friend, told the Associated Press that Knight will be laid to rest in a coffin made from Herbie's wood.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send Question/Comment to the Publisher


  • Memorial Service Saturday, May 19, 2012
  • Reception Saturday, May 19, 2012

Frank The Tree Man A Knight

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Susan Hankins

December 20, 2014

Mr. Knight inspired me so much when I read an article back in 2012 about his fight to save one tree. If we all would fight for one thing with such vigor.... the world would be a better place. I did not know him but then again, he touched my life. RIP Frank Knight. I hope to meet you one day. Tree lover, Atlanta, Ga

Jane La Lone

August 22, 2013

I happened across this obit that is the story of Frank Knight and the mighty elm named Herbie. I was about 10 or 11 when the Dutch Elm disease hit Northern NY. One day the Highway Dept came and cut down 3 majestic elms that lined the Pleasant Valley Rd, a county road along which my dad's farm sat. I used to day dream out my bedroom window which looked upon those elms and a scenic view beyond. It was a very sad day. We still had 80 foot + maple trees lining the yard of our big old farmhouse on three sides, but I missed those elms. I always wondered if any elms in NY or the Northeast survived that horrible epidemic, and if so how many? Did more regenerate from seeds left behind? Sounds like Frank was a hero, a very loyal hero. Sorry the two had to leave us!

January 10, 2013

What a wonderful and inspirational man. RIP, Mr. Knight, with your beloved family & your beloved tree.

Nancy McMinn

August 28, 2012

I love the picture that Peter Legge added. Tim & Carlene - Frank & Frances - - That's the way I remember the good times at Crystal Lake along with my Aunt & Uncle, Arthur & Mildred Austin. Both couples rented the Austin Cottage for several summers. I have such good memories of those great times.

Carol Knight

August 20, 2012

I wish there were more people like Mr. Frank Knight. I read his story while looking for other information and although I don't know him or his family, I will remember his story and how he cared about that tree.

Peter Legge

May 28, 2012

Frank ever since you arrived next door at Crystal Lake you were always kind and humble. You were a role model and inspiration to me growing up. I will never forget the great times with our wonderful extended family at Crystal Lake. Never a kinder and more thoughtful man have I known. Thank you Frank for all you have done to inspire so many.

Peter Legge

May 21, 2012

What an appreciation for nature. Frank will always be loved for his contribution to the world. Soon we will not have to see an end to wonderful people like Frank. Revalation 21:3,4

sandra gomez

May 19, 2012

To the family,although I did not know mr.knight I enjoyed the story behind the tree,I happen to hav attened a service of a friend,who loved ranching,and she too helped her husband build her own coffin,she had cancer! May god bless the knight family & rest in peace frank..

Bruce Boyd

May 17, 2012

Frank was and continues to be an inspiration us younger ones. He showed us how not to take our surroundings for granted and work together. While we will miss him and I have fond memories of Frannie I am a better person to have known them. May the love and respect shown him be a comfort to his family as we all share his life and passing. Bruce Boyd

Ted and Sharon Sharp

May 16, 2012

I had the privilege of knowing Frank Knight since I was a young boy, going to school for thirteen years with his son Dick. Later, my wife Sharon and I bought the old Titcomb Farm on Mountfort Road from Frank and Frances and we lived there for 21 years, raising our three children, Hannah, Todd, & Patrick. Frank was always a mentor and a dear friend to all of us and we shall miss him very much!