Aaron Schulz and Steve Green preparing the trees for the ceremony.
Harold “Hal” Robson was the first city arborist in the City of Lake Forest, Illinois, a position he maintained for 30 years from 1960 to 1990. Hal devoted his life and career to the City of Lake Forest and was responsible for creating ordinances and policies which protect the city’s parks and trees. Citizens continue to abide by these ordinances to this day. He worked tirelessly to promote tree health and make the city of Lake Forest what it is today. He was responsible for park planning and development, and later became the director of Parks, Forestry and Public Works. He was very instrumental in creating plans to prevent Lake Forest and surrounding beaches from erosion in the 1970’s and 80’s. In the early 1980’s, the City of Lake Forest earned its first “Tree City USA” award. Hal was extremely proud of this accomplishment. This is a distinction that the city continues to be honored with each year.
Hal was a lifelong IAA and ISA member and board member and was instrumental in helping to shape the ISA organization in its early years. He authored numerous articles on city and urban forestry, as well as sharing his expertise by guest speaking at several ISA conventions throughout his career. Even in retirement, he took pride in being an arborist and stayed in touch with many of the ISA members throughout his lifetime.
When Sam was in his early 20’s, he was enrolled in the aviation program at Dixie college in St. George, Utah, where he and his wife, Jodie, were newlyweds. His friend worked for the city as a certified arborist and he helped Sam get hired on to help prune city trees. Sam decided it would be more profitable to become a certified arborist and around 1998, it happened! This would help him and his family through until he could earn a living as a pilot.
In the year 2000, Sam and his growing family moved back to the Chicagoland area so he could continue to acquire and log his flight hours at a nearby airport as he worked toward reaching the next pilot license on his list. In the meantime, he worked for The Care of Trees in Crystal Lake, IL.
Sam enrolled in a tree conference in Chicago, set for November of 2001. There, he fatefully met a 67 year old certified arborist named Don Dennis, who happened to be looking for a young, ambitious certified arborist to take over his business in Springfield, IL. Long story short…the following May in 2002, Sam and Jodie were moving to Springfield, IL with the intention of taking over Don Dennis’s tree care business! Don and his wife, Marie, would be Sam and Jodie’s mentors for the remainder of 2002 (and beyond) as they learned the business processes of the company. On January 1, 2003, Sam and Jodie became the proud new owners of Pacesetter Tree Care, LLC!
Sam’s ambitions for flying for hire were set aside, but not forever.
From the day they assumed ownership, the company grew more each year, as Sam’s reputation as a trusted, knowledgable tree expert and certified arborist gained attention.
Sam was an intelligent, kind man with great integrity and exceptional work ethic. He prided himself on superior care for trees and did his best with every job, ensuring safety for himself, his employees, the homeowners and the future of the tree itself. He loved a challenging tree that caused him to think of creative ways to remove limbs or entire trees, with, for example, things like intricate pulley systems and zip lines.
Sam loved and cared for his employees and enjoyed witnessing their growth and accomplishments.
Jodie and Sam were looking forward to a long career and much more growth, expanding the company in other ways. But his life was cut short at age 45, when a brain aneurism took his life September 21, 2019. Because of the dedicated employees they had, namely Dustin Asbrock, Ben Housley, and David Van Bebber, Pacesetter continued to be prosperous for the next 8 months. However, Jodie decided to close the doors in June of 2020. She liquidated the assets, sold their house, and moved back to Arizona where she grew up and has family. She has since remarried and is very happy.
And, by the way, Sam never lost his desire to fly airplanes and was still planning on flying in the future. In fact, his gravestone has a tree and an airplane on it—his two largest passions outside of his family.
For those in attendance here supporting our beloved Sam Tidball, and to all those customers they had, Jodie wishes for them to know how much they meant to her and Sam over the years, and expresses her sincerest Thank You (with lots of hearts and blinking lights all around it).
Jodie would like to give a special call-out to Don and Marie Dennis who should be present in the audience today. They gave Sam and Jodie such a wonderful gift by allowing them to take over Pacesetter Tree Care so many years ago.
Planting the Memorial Trees for Bill Bolt and Earl Throop Sr.