A tree was planted on a cloudy, wind-swept day recently just outside the Applied Technology building at Northeast Community College here. It is to serve as a reminder to students just beyond the walls a few feet away – a reminder of one of their own.
Most of the approximately 20 students in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) program who attended the ceremony were classmates of Carter Johnson of Newman Grove, who died earlier this year. They gathered along with their instructors, Johnson’s parents, Jay and Carmen, and others as members of Northeast’s grounds crew planted the tree.
“Carter was taken from this world too soon, but God had a plan for him,” said classmate Robert Haas of Canby, MN, during the brief ceremony. “As we dedicate this tree to him, we remember all the memories that we shared, the joy and laughter he brought in our lives; his smile that could light up a room. From all the days gone before us that we were privileged to share with him, and in all tomorrows, we will feel him. Gone in some ways, but his presence ever near.”
The HVAC Club purchased a red oak to plant in Johnson’s memory, a tree that 20th century forestry expert Joseph S. Illick, described as “one of the handsomest, cleanest, and stateliest trees in North America and is widely considered a national treasure,” according to the National Arbor Day Foundation.