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Arteberry: Each season brings an emotional boost

The fall foliage has been simply gorgeous this year. Once again we reflect on the understanding that true Mid-westerners have about the importance of trees in our lives.

Each season brings us an emotional boost and an assurance of what follows. The buds, the greening, the welcome shade and the glory of the colors and even the bare silhouettes provide meaning and grace – and our part is to add some water, to trim, to rake and perhaps hang some lights.

Except, of course, there are times we need a partner. Enter Rich DeMar and folks like him who provide tree services.

DeMar was looking for a career that would keep him outdoors and, as he puts it, “have fun swaying in the wind at the top of a tree!”

Since 1957, after gaining the training and coursework at another tree service he took his knowledge of tree growth and structure, how to identify and solve problems, and how to operate safely and effectively, and built, owned and operated DeMar Tree Service.

It’s not all in the treetops, smiles Rich as he reflects on his favorite place. It includes landscaping, a small nursery, firewood and consultation and application of what he has come to know about trees. Learn more at 630-377-7400 or

Did you know that a tree generally only grows during a six-week period during warm weather? After that, the tree is preparing for the cold season. 

DeMar explains that there is work to be done all year round to provide an environment for a healthy tree. This time of year they are busy trimming broken and excessive branches. Trees need fertilizing, not so much adding nitrogen, which promotes growth, but with nutrients that will be kept dormant during the freeze and remain at the roots and ready to go in the Spring. Adequate moisture (pretty good at this point) helps the tree to harden.

Now 81 years old, Rich says he can still climb a tree and strap himself to an upper branch and sway in the wind. In a family that contains seven daughters, 24 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren there must be many stories to tell.

He says his favorite tree is the burr oak. Does he have a favorite spot to view these mighty and treasured trees? Rich recommends Pheasant Run Road off Dean Street in St. Charles and Good Templar Park and Island Park in Geneva. This slow-growing and long lasting tree depends, as do all trees, on a nurturing environment. 

Clearly these are bad times for the ash and locust trees. DeMar noted that there are lists available, at the street department in St. Charles for example, of trees that are more likely to thrive in this region. As he has indicated by what he said, a tree needs a buddy, too, if only for the glee in the treetop and the wise and effective services of a tree guy.

A follow-up – from all accounts the Bluegrass Concert sponsored by the St. Charles Noon Rotary group met all expectations. More has been written about our local Hoban Sisters and three cheers for them. Old-timers alert!  Did you know that the girls are not only from a family with bluegrass in their blood, but they are also the great-grandchildren of H. “Skinny” Covalsky who was the chief of police in St. Charles in those good old days? 

Skinny was always referenced in my group as a positive figure, but capable of needed and powerful enforcement. So, with that in mind, we mostly stayed out of mischief. It’s probably good that the stories that are now unfolding in my Class of ’56 rolling reunion sessions (second Thursdays at eastside Colonial for breakfast) did not reach his ears – well maybe just a few. 

• Joan Arteberry is a longtime resident of St. Charles. Her columns are featured in the Kane County Chronicle’s Neighbors section every other Friday. Write to her at

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