Remembering Cass Turnbull

We regret to report...

cas turnbullCass Turnbull, 65, of Seattle, Washington, founder of Plant Amnesty, an organization launched to protect the mutilation of trees in the landscape, died of a heart attack January 26, 2017, while on vacation in Hawaii.

A state-certified arborist, landscaper and master gardener, an author and lover of open spaces, Turnbull contributed more than a dozen articles to TCI Magazine dating back to 1999. Most recently, her article “No Place for Old Trees,” which is also the name of a collection of her articles, appeared in the February 2016 issue of TCI.

Peggy Sturdivant, in the Ballard News-Tribune, described Turnbull as “arborist, activist, writer, the Northwest’s Queen of Pruning.”

In an obituary in the Seattle Times, Lynda V. Mapes, Times environment reporter, said, “A real-life Lorax, Cass Turnbull spoke for the trees. A staunch defender of trees and open space, she used humor as her secret weapon, starting with the name of her signature achievement, the founding of Plant Amnesty 30 years ago. The nonprofit’s aim was ‘to stop the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.’”

Plant Amnesty now has nearly 1,200 members in 32 states and three countries. It offers inexpensive pruning classes and workshops, as well as a referral service for arborists, gardeners and pruners.
Turnbull authored two books, including Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning.

She also created a political-action group, TreePac, that took on the task of toughening Seattle’s tree ordinance and digging into the land-use laws to defend trees and green spaces, according to the Times. Turnbull began her career as a laborer at the Seattle Parks Department.

She is survived by her husband, John, and sister, Ghaska Cleland Branch, and a stepmother, Nancy Callaghan, all of Seattle.