Residents and town officials gathered in Mead Memorial Park Friday morning, Arbor Day, for the ceremonial planting of a dogwood tree in honor of former tree warden Warren Kelley, who passed away in January at age 86.

Those in attendance stood in the sunlight of a halcyon spring morning as Bruce Pauley, the current tree warden, dedicated the tree to Kelley.

"I liked Warren an awful lot, and he did a lot for New Canaan, planting trees at many private homes, in God's Acre and in downtown New Canaan," Pauley said.

Pauley said his first job after high school was for Kelley at Kelley Nurseries in Darien.

Kelley was the town's tree warden in the 1970s and 1980s. His family has resided in New Canaan for five generations, some of whom were at the ceremony.

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Pauley consulted with Kelley's family members and they chose a hybrid Japanese-American dogwood tree that was developed at Rutgers University. Pauley said the tree has a low susceptibility of disease, like a Japanese dogwood, but flowers like an American dogwood.

Former friend and landscape architect Keith Simpson also remembered Kelley.

"Even in his `retirement' he continued to help at a local nursery, generously sharing his vast knowledge of trees and plants with interested people," Simpson wrote in a short statement he brought to the event. "One of Connecticut's true gentlemen, he is greatly missed by all who knew him and is remembered well for his many acts of kindness."

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