Scott Wilson, Founder of North East Trees, Dies

Eagle Rock’s foremost green visionary collapses while cutting flowers from a tree in his garden.

Scott Wilson, a longtime Eagle Rock resident, retired teacher and landscape architect who was instrumental in the greening of large parts of the neighborhood, died Monday morning from a weekend fall sustained while cutting flowers from a tree in the garden of his Olson Street home. He was 89.

Shortly after the incident Saturday, paramedics rushed Wilson to Glendale Adventist Hospital, where he never regained consciousness, said his daughter Christine Richards. He passed away peacefully at the hospital, with his family present by his side, she added.

In 1989 Wilson founded North East Trees, a nonprofit environmental group devoted to planting at least five trees a day for the rest of his life—more than 50,000 so far—as well as ensuring jobs in the green industry for at-risk youth.

A keen mentor, Wilson was a constant—and ever-cheerful—organizer of tree planting drives in Eagle Rock and beyond. Among the numerous trees he is credited with planting is a string of oaks about 30 years old in Occidental College that are scheduled to be cut down to make way for a state-of-the-art solar array project on the campus.

Some 20 years ago, Wilson also planted many of the trees that line Townsend Avenue today.

“Everybody knew my dad and everybody has a story about him,” said Richards. “He has positively impacted so many people's lives and will be dearly missed.”

A tribute to Wilson, a celebration of his life, is planned from 2-5 p.m., Sunday, November 27, at the on Hermosa Avenue.

Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the date on which a tribute to Scott Wilson is planned. The correct date is November 27—not November 12. Some other details from the original version have also been edited out at the Wilson family's request to protect their privacy.

Michael Larsen November 08, 2011 at 05:15 AM
Scott Wilson was a rare sort of man. He had vision, drive, kindness, and intelligence. Any two of those qualities would make a great man, but he had them all. Eagle Rock and Los Angeles are better places because of him. We salute him, and celebrate his unique and generous contributions to this world. Michael Larsen Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council
Ajay Singh (Editor) November 08, 2011 at 10:44 AM
Michael—thanks for your heartfelt tribute to Scott. I had the immense pleasure of meeting him during a couple of tree-planing initiatives in the neighborhood over the past year and I will always remember him as one of the sweetest and most compassionate people I have ever met.
Maggie Freed November 08, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Scott Wilson was instrumental in helping our neighbor John McDonald organize a tree planting along Oak Grove Drive over 20 years ago. Thanks in great part to him, we have a row of beautiful liquidambars turning fall colors right now. He really helped make Eagle Rock beautiful!
Jan Freed November 08, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Ditto that. He was a man who knew how to care for trees. The next tree I hiug I will think about Scott.
Christine Richards November 08, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Dear Ajay, thank you for the article about my Dad. The outpouring of love of my Dad and the concern and support for the family is much appreciated. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to North East Trees, 570 W. Ave. 26, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90065, (323)441-8634, www.northeasttrees.org
Esther Monk November 09, 2011 at 01:18 AM
Scott came to a planning meeting at our house with a group to plant more trees in ER last spring. He was so excited about sharing the possibility of implementing water savings on the Boulevard. We all shared plans and red wine. Cheers to you Scott.
Rudy November 09, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Much more a man of the people than the trees, Scott is a treasure who will be missed. In planting all those trees, he involved students, clubs and organizations of Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High. I was a club sponsor lucky to meet him and watch his wonderful interaction with the student volunteers. He is forever a role model to all who knew him or picked up a shovel and saved a piece of the planet. I am sure more trees will be planted now in heaven by this wonderful person. God comfort the family and all who knew him
Joanne Turner November 09, 2011 at 07:39 PM
I'm devastated. I met Scott while fighting to replace the diseased pear trees along Colorado Boulevard back in the mid-1990s. We became fast friends and were up against entrenched local business representatives and political interests who wanted nothing to change. Scott and I and other North East Trees members went before Public Works and won. We now have the beautiful London Plane trees along our boulevard as a result of that effort. The red oaks along my street are also because of Scott's force for good. When my kids were in elementary school, Scott headed up many landscape improvement projects on the campus. He got at-risk youth involved in his projects and fought hard to educate the city about properly caring for trees that were its responsibility. As a result, trees in our public areas are far better cared for. He worked on beautifying the areas along the LA River, among many, many other contributions. I can't think of any area of Eagle Rock or Northeast Los Angeles that he hasn't positively touched. May Scott Wilson be an example for us all now and far into the future. Rest in joy, sweet angel.
Ajay Singh (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Thomas D. Wright, a senior civil engineer with OC Waste & Recycling in Orange County, wishes to share this fond memory of his for Scott from their days together as student and teacher at Eagle Rock High School: "When I came to ERHS in the 7th grade in 1959 I had Mr. Wilson as my Jr. Agriculture teacher. My group got to plant radishes. Mr. Wilson was a baseball fan and the Dodgers were in the world series that year so he let us listen to the game on transistor radios when we were outside digging, planting or watering (they still had day games back then) and sometime we even listened during class time for few minutes if there was something exciting going on. He was a good teacher and a fair teacher and I looked forward to his class every day. I was fortunate to have started my 7th grade year in that way."
Gail Gang November 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Scott was "the older guy" enrolled in our MLA class at Cal Poly Pomona in the mid 1980s. With his intelligence, drive, optimism, natural curiosity, and abiding kindness, he perhaps unwittingly became a role model for our class of mostly twenty-somethings. How very lucky we were. Dear Scott, rest well now in the heavenly treetops.
Joel Miller November 12, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Mr. Wilson was my horticulture teacher at North Hollywood High School back in the 1970's. We used to call him the "Energizer Bunny" because he had more energy than all of us put together. I was part of a special summer program at the Horticulture unit in the summer of 1973 and he taught us the value of hard work but with a light touch and a sparkle in his eyes. He truly was passionate about horticulture and the environment and that definitely rubbed off on the rest of us. Mr. Wilson was one of those individuals that has made a difference in so many lives and his legacy lives on. Thank you Mr. Wilson, may you rest in peace.
Henk Friezer November 12, 2011 at 10:35 PM
Just heard about Scott.I was truly stunned, I recently saw him at the Hall of Fame inductions and he was in his usual good spirits. Over the years I photographed numerous events in which Scott was involved. The word being INVOLVED, he loved the community and showed it with the imprint he left behind. He will truly never be forgotten. I personally would tike to see a street named after him (maybe the cul de sac near the his horticultural center). Although I was sorry to hear about his passing, I am glad it happened while he was doing what he loved best working with trees! I'm sure he would not have wanted to go in any other way. RIP Scott, ER will not forget you.
YAHEL RAYMOND November 14, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Like Mr. Miller (in his comments) I was in the summer 1973 agriculture program at North Hollywood High School and have some of the fondest memories of my school years from that time. I have thought of Mr Wilson many times over the years and was saddened to hear of his passing. Reading of his activities and efforts since his retirement was heart warming. He was truly a wonderful man and will be greatly missed. YahEl Raymond


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