Eugene has had the honor to count amongst its City Councilors a remarkable woman named Andrea Ortiz. Andrea passed away on January 20, 2017, but spent many years as Councilor of Ward 7 pushing to make a difference. She worked not just for her ward, which is one of the most challenging in Eugene, but for the good of the entire city. She was known for helping anyone in need and lead by example with a straight forward/matter of fact attitude.

Such people inspire many to do good which led the City of Eugene to honor Andrea Ortiz by dedicating a public park in her memory. The park is located at the SE corner of Royal Avenue and Randy Papé Beltline, just west of Elizabeth Street. On January 17, 2022 the City of Eugene Park and Open Spaces and Friends of Trees organized a tree planting to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Councilor Ortiz’ passing and Sperry Tree Care was present in full force and colors.

Our company knew Andrea pretty well and her husband Neno, a wonderful person who worked for us for a few years shortly after losing her. Her kids are also close friends of Rob Miron and Asa Meyer, respectively company owner and operations manager, so it was only logical that all of us be present and support them on that day.

Father and daughter singers and ukulele players welcomed a crowd of over 100 people who showed up to plant about 65 trees, including a Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) right at the entrance of the Park; a plaque has been added by the tree. All other species of trees planted that day are native to Oregon including Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana), California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggi), Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa), Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) and Oregon Crabapple (Malus fusca).

After a beautiful presentation and wonderful memories of Andrea Ortiz shared by close friends and family, the Magnolia was planted in front of everyone allowing all to not only pay respect to Andrea but to see this symbol of life continuing in the form of a tree. Attendees were also able to learn the proper techniques to plant a tree. Soon after, under the directions of City staff and members of Friends of Trees, volunteers went to work in small groups as the sun finally burned through the fog and in about an hour all trees were properly planted and mulched!

The trees were planted in an informal row and in small groves in roughly the southern third part of the entire acreage to offer not only a future pleasant place to walk and play but also a screen between the existing houses south of the park and the future houses that are to be built on the north end of the park.

Many of the people I talked to were planting a tree for the first time and I encouraged them to come back to visit the groves they helped install and see how they are slowly changing to larger canopied trees!

I myself made a new friend that day. He looked familiar and I asked him if we hadn’t met before, possibly at a Native American event. We talked about the people we know in that community, those who have left us and those who are still around and sometimes struggling. I encouraged my new friend to offer positive thoughts about the people he knew were struggling into the planting of the trees, a conscientious intention transformed into a living presence. He loved the idea and decided to come back often and reflect on the trees he planted. The dedication of a new park is always a beautiful thing to witness, but when so many people show up to help plant trees to honor a respected citizen, the feeling of belonging to a tight community is heightened and heartwarming. This kind of community building event is exactly what Andrea Ortiz dedicated her public and private life to; we couldn’t have honored her better.

Alby Thoumsin

ISA Certified Arborist, PN 1168A

ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist #452

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