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Wellsville students, Penny Canfield, and a flowering dogwood make for a idyllic Arbor Day


The David A. Howe Library hosts a celebration of literacy, a life, and new tree

By Andrew Harris

The weather cooperated and a large crowd gathered on the front lawn of the library to celebrate a day dedicated to trees and Arline Penrose McGee Canfield, better known as “Penny.”

Arbor Day was the big picture celebration, Wellsville is a Tree City USA with a very active and strong tree committee. The fifth grade, led by the dynamic Mrs. Gunzberger, came by the busload and formed a circle around the main event; a flowering dogwood tree.

Susan Duke, the President of the village tree committee, made some remarks about Arbor Day and the local dedication to the trees of Wellsville NY. The village is home to many trees that pre-date the civil war and the tree committee keeps a watchful eye over the oaks, sycamores, walnuts, and beech.

Duke and the committee held an art contest in honor of the holiday. Kinley Root, a fifth grader at Wellsville Elementary, was the winner for the contest and Susan Duke presented her art to the crowd. Root’s award winning artwork will be prominently placed in the village of Wellsville offices.

Susan Duke with Arbor Day art contest winner Kinley Root

Root and her classmates went on to read Arbor Day related poems to the crowd

Deputy Mayor Jeff Monroe was on hand to give the official blessing from the village government and to read an official proclaimation.

Monroe was great, the art contest award was exciting, and the crowd was thrilled to be part of installing Wellsville’s newest tree.

“Penny” Canfield

The main event was to remember and dedicate that flowering dogwood to the late Penny Canfield. Her family stood proudly next to the new tree with a memorial to Penny that faces Main Street. Dr. Ken Canfield, with his children and close friends at his side delivered some eloquent words about his wife, the David A. Howe Library, and reading.

Canfield introduced his family, daughter Karen Maskens, his son David Paul, son-in-law David Keith Maskens, and his grandson Jack Maskens. The family, a very well-dressed clan, stood with and behind the family patriarch as he thanked the library and the tree committee. Canfield congratulated the fifth grade on the poetry and the great artwork that emerged from the contest.

Dr. Ken Canfield speaks to the crowd

Dr. Canfield, always gracious, spoke for his entire family:

How wonderful it is that Penny was being honored with the Flowering Dogwood tree planting and Memorial Stone denoting her being a library trustee. Penny was a devoted trustee and library advocate for many years, but also was a reading teacher at the Wellsville Elementary school for twenty four years and absolutely loved reading.

If Penny were here, her message to everyone, especially the children would be READ ! Learn to love reading as it will bring you enjoyment, entertainment, information and open the world to you ! !  Use the library and read, read, read !!

We talked to Dr. Canfield after the event and while it was a bittersweet day, he was very happy with the event and made a point to thank the friends who made it happen:

The Comstock and Colligan families commissioned the Memorial Stone.

Tom and Nancy Reuning commissioned the removal of the Oak tree stump.

Lynch Paving commissioned the planting of the Flowering Dogwood tree.

The Library Board of Trustees approved Penny’s Tribute event.

As a Tree City, Wellsville put on quite a show for this Arbor Day. The new tree on the library lawn will be enjoyed by many, for many years, and the students in the audience will remember the event for years to come. In the future when you see this tree flower, think of Penny Canfield’s dedication to young people, education, and literacy in Wellsville NY.

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