Return to Table of Contents: Summer 2012
Dr. Brian Sayers of Clarence, NY, recently added “TREE Fund Trustee” to his list of credentials, which already included Doctor of Philosophy and college professor, successful tree care business owner, past President of the New York State Arborists, millwright, woodworker and respectable tournament chess player.
He has enjoyed various careers but, as he put it, “The trees came first, and stayed with me.” Born in Ontario, Canada, Sayers overcame an obstacle-strewn adolescence with the help of a mentor whose advice has guided his life’s path ever since. “He told me to aim higher,’ Sayers said recently. “He said that I could do better. I believed him.”
Sayers was the first of his family to finish high school, and went on to earn a PhD in Philosophy from Ontario’s Queen’s University in 1976. He financed his education with seasonal tree work for The Davey Tree Expert Company in Canada, and developed a lifelong love of reading, learning and trees.
“My brother, Blair, and I went to work for Davey when we were still in high school. Blair went on to become the CEO of Davey Tree, Canada. I detoured into academia for 17 years, returning to tree work when I retired from teaching. That’s when I founded The Tree Doctor.” Sayers’ tree care business prospered. He turned it over to his eldest son in 2009 and embarked upon his second retirement, which shows promise to be as interesting as his first.
He has taken up tournament chess and cultivated a group of Eastern European chess partners with whom he hones his game weekly. “Chess is good for my mind and easier on my knees than most of my other interests,” he said. He has taught his five grandchildren to play, and has competed successfully in non-tournament matches against internationally ranked chess players including the former champion of the Soviet Union’s Red Army.
His grandkids, ranging in age from 8-13, are another passion. “I’ve taught them the same lessons I learned all those years ago. Aim high. Work hard. I home-schooled two of them, and they keep me busy running around to their games and activities. I also have a lot of fun with a sawmill I bought awhile back. I like big projects: outdoor furniture, cabins, special dog houses, fine desks. We were paying someone to haul away the wood from the Tree Doctor; I decided to put some of it to good use myself.”
Sayers also keeps a greenhouse, where he’s immersed in a project to cultivate offspring of trees associated with well-known American authors. He inherited the project from Richard Horan, author of “Seeds: One Man’s Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees that Inspired Famous American Writers.” Sayers has been learning the fine points of germination as he works to grow trees from seeds collected by Horan. The trees will eventually be offered for sale, with proceeds benefiting the TREE Fund.
Sayers accepted the position of TREE Fund Trustee at the urging of fellow arborists Doug Wade and David McMaster. He brings to the TREE Fund Board the same willingness to serve where help is needed most, which marked his one-year tenure as TREE Fund Liaison to the New York State Arborists in 2008. “As an academic, I get the research side,” he said. “I’m also an experienced advocate, and I’m not afraid to suggest to people that it’s time they cared more about trees, and that they do it with their checkbooks.”