Tree Dedication Fits Former Mayor to a Tee

On hand for the tree-planting ceremony to honor outgoing Mayor Dr. Richard D. Schneider are (left to right) City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, Nature Park head Barbara Eisenstein, Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, Pauline Schneider and Councilmember Richard Schneider, and Mayor Pro Tem Robert Joe. Photo by Sally Kilby

“When I first met him, Rick was interested in trees,” said Pauline Schneider at a tree-planting ceremony last week.

She said Councilmember Dr. Richard D. Schneider, her husband, has an enduring affinity for trees. “It goes back a long time,” she said.

“Forty years ago,” she said, “he asked those living in his parents’ neighborhood in Cleveland if they wanted trees planted. They said they did.”

He formed an organization of neighbors and called it Residents on Castlewood Avenue, the councilmember said. He contacted the city and said the residents on this street wanted trees planted on their parkways. The city complied.

“Now those trees are grown,” Mrs. Schneider said.

Last week, fittingly, the City Council honored him with a tree planted in his name on city property. His councilmember colleagues presented it to him for his service as the city’s 2018 mayor.

Schneider selected an Engelmann Oak, he said, “because it is considered a threatened species and is absolutely beautiful when fully grown.” He chose Library Park for its location.

Schneider, current Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian and two City Councilmembers took part in the ceremonial planting in front of the Library Community Room at 4 p.m. on Jan. 25.

Beginning to plant an Engelmann Oak at Library Park to honor outgoing Mayor Dr. Richard D. Schneider are (left to right) Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, Councilmember Richard Schneider and Mayor Pro Tem Robert Joe. A plaque will be added to the site.

The event had been rescheduled from its original date due to rain. The planting took place on the east side of the park along El Centro Street. The ceremony was held just prior to the celebration of the Library Tree as a city landmark on the park’s west side.

Approximately 50 officials and members of the public attended both events.

City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe opened the tree-planting ceremony. She said that when Schneider began his 2018 mayoral year, one of his goals was to focus on trees.

Mayor Khubesrian noted that South Pasadena is a “City of Trees” and its official logo has a tree as its central image. The city is also an official Tree City USA.

Khubesrian also said it was fitting that Schneider is the first recipient of a tree as a gift for an outgoing mayor. “It fits him to a tee,” she said. The City Council plans to continue this practice of honoring all outgoing mayors with a tree dedication.

Several members of the audience confirmed the former mayor’s commitment to trees.

Gina Atkinson, President of the non-profit South Pasadena Beautiful, said that Councilmember Schneider, who is also a physician, was responsible for her club’s successful tree-planting drive.

“It was Dr. Schneider who told us about another city that had a tree-planting drive,” she said. “It’s through his leadership and encouragement that we started our drive.”

She said he also told the group about the City of Claremont’s tree-watering outreach. Now, South Pasadena Beautiful has adopted a similar program, she said.

Schneider’s colleague and friend Bill Sherman said at the event that the former mayor’s love of trees begins at home. “He has many trees there,” he said. “I know that one of his trees was not doing well.” Sherman said that after several years, Schneider had to remove it. He then replaced it with another tree. “He’s always had a concern for living things,” Sherman said.

Barbara Eisenstein, who started the Friends of the Nature Park and engages volunteers in a variety of projects at it, said Schneider has helped her immensely.

In the early years, when it was hard to enlist volunteers, she considered ending her efforts. She said Schneider made suggestions and offered ways to help her move forward.

“Over the years, he’s been the one who has come to so many clean-ups,” she said. “He’s shown steadfastness, like a tree.”

“I know we wouldn’t be where we are today without Dr. Schneider’s support and help,” she added.

Public Works personnel completed the tree planting after the ceremony. A dedication plaque will be attached, according to an email from the library head.

This will serve as a visible reminder of Councilmember Schneider’s love of trees. It will also represent the lasting impact that Dr. Schneider’s year as mayor will have on the community, City Manager DeWolfe said.