(Excerpted from “Aloha ‘Oe Gregory K. Severino,” Western Arborist, by Carol Kwan)
Gregory K. Severino was a bigger than life part of Hawaii’s arborist community. He jumped into the role of Aloha Arborist Association’s president for nine years, from the late 1990s through January 2008, after a friendly challenge from other AAA members. Greg taught training classes and coordinated volunteer work days, spearheaded the effort to put on our first Tree Climbing Championship (TCC) in Hawaii in many years in 2009, and helped turn it into an annual event. Because Greg offered aerial rescue training, a pre-requisite for the Certified Tree Worker exam, there are over 85 Certified Tree Workers who were able to sit for the exam and get their certifications. Anytime anyone needed help, Greg was the first to volunteer, whether it be a non-profit, a church, a school, or another worthy organization, and he was there with the Paradise Landscape Maintenance, Inc. (PLMI) crew and equipment to make things happen.
Steve Nimz, Certified Arborist, remembers Greg as one of the most enthusiastic, friendly people he’s ever worked with. “Greg always had a great smile and a positive attitude about tree work. When he wasn’t talking about trees, he was talking about diving. Whatever he did, he did with gusto.” Kevin Eckert, Board Certified Master Arborist, recalls Greg as a tremendous leader and supporter of our industry and the people involved. “He came right from the heart with everything he did. He was a great teacher and just a good all-around guy and he will be very much missed by his friends, colleagues, and the industry in general.”
Greg had been battling cancer in late 2015 into 2016, and was recovering well from treatment. He died suddenly on December 11, 2016, while scuba diving. Greg is survived by his son, David Severino, and his daughter, Jessica Chiocchio.
The Hawaii Tree Jamboree is held in his honor to remember his contributions, and to encourage the arborist community in Hawaii to always help each other, work smart, and work safe.
Carol Kwan is the President of Carol Kwan Consulting, a Certified Arborist, President of Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture 2018-2019.