The CT Tree Protective Association notes with sadness the passing of Dr. George R. Stephens. Dr. Stephens was long-time Chief of the Department of Forestry and Horticulture at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station. In that role, George had a close relationship with trees, arboriculture and arborists in the state.
Although George retired from the Station twenty years ago, there is still a strong contingent of CTPA members and Connecticut arborists who remember him well and with appreciation and respect. There was a time when Dr. Stephens was ‘the guy’ with respect to the Arborist License. As chair of the Tree Protection Examining Board, he organized the oral examination sessions for prospective arborists. It was his signature that indicated whether you or not had passed, and whether you would get your license.
He also led the tree id exams and participated in the oral examination sessions. With his crew-cut hair and matter-of-fact style of speech, he was seen as a bit formidable by many of the candidates. More than a few candidates of that era hoped that they would not draw him in their oral exam.
The truth of the matter, however, is that George was a very friendly person who was also honest, fair and helpful. In particular, he looked out for the person who showed by their preparation and interest that he or she wanted to be an arborist. In those cases, and just in general, he was always forthcoming with his advice.
For years, George was a mainstay of both arboriculture and CTPA, providing updates at successive Annual Meeting on the status of the Arborist License and tree care related activities. Dr. Stephens was a highly regarded researcher at the Experiment Station. His wide ranging interests covered the gamut of tree and tree health issues, and beyond. His writings were many and extended from relating defoliation to mortality in Connecticut’s forests to ways to help match vegetable crops to the nutritional needs of the people of Connecticut.
Details regarding services for Dr. Stephens are included in his obituary. A wake will be held in North Haven on Wednesday evening, July 12, 2017.