The spirit of one whose courageousness captivated everyone he met was remembered Friday during McMinnville’s observance of Arbor Day.
Devin Galligan was the founder of the charitable organization “Strain the Brain” which was founded to raise money for cancer patients at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A carcinoma was removed from his brain at that hospital in 1996.
After his surgery, he trained for triathlons and iron man contests. Proceeds raised went to his foundation. Also, he was one of the carriers of the Olympic Torch for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
While his battled ended Dec. 27, 2003, his unwavering determination lives on.
“I don’t know where he got the strength,” said his mother, Kathy Smoot-Kemezis. “He tackled the disease the same way he tackled everything else – like it was an adventure. He loved to travel and he loved to experience life.”
For Devin, Kemezis donated a Japanese Cherry Tree to be dedicated in his memory on Arbor Day. The tree was planted by McMinnville Urban Forestry beside a ball field at McMinnville Civic Center where he once played baseball.
Devin’s own words “In the spirit of Adventure and Discovery ...” were engraved on the stone that was placed beside the tree by the Ben Lomond Garden Club.
For the past decade, McMinnville has been recognized as a Tree City USA program member.
“Today, McMinnville is being recognized as a Tree City USA for the 10th year,” said Chris Carney, area forester. “The Tree City USA program is designed to recognize communities that effectively manage their urban forest and meet the four Tree City USA standards.”
McMinnville met the following standards:
• An established legal tree governing body
• A comprehensive community forestry program that spends at least $2 per capita on the urban forest
• A tree care ordinance
• An annual Arbor Day observance and proclamation
Carney says trees serve so many health and safety, infrastructure, and economic benefits to communities that Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, “The best friend of earth and man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth.”
A proclamation proclaiming April 29 as Arbor Day in McMinnville was signed by McMinnville Mayor Norman Rone, while Carney presented the city with this year’s Tree City USA flag.
“Prince William quoted his grandmother Queen Elizabeth saying, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’ and it is moments like this that makes grief more bearable,” said Kemezis.
The tree was planted Friday morning, with the stone monument added that afternoon. A second tree was planted at McMinnville Physical Therapy and a dedication is planned for later this year.