Fanwood Tree Steward Dean Talcott Dies after Cancer Battle

(above) Dean Talcott reading poetry at Fanwood’s Arbor Day event April 28, 2023

Fanwood Tree Steward Dean Talcott Dies

Dean Talcott, a 48-year Fanwood resident who distinguished himself as a Master Tree Steward, Master Gardener and avid environmentalist, has died after a 16-month-long battle with cancer. He was 74. He passed away at home with Linda, his wife of 32 years, at his side.

Dean’s passion for the outdoors and especially trees took him to classrooms around Union County as part of the county’s Master Tree Steward Program. He visited many 4th grade classrooms to speak about photosynthesis, tree growth and local historic trees. 

(above) Dean making maple syrup from sap harvested in his backyard, February, 2023

In Fanwood, he was a volunteer who wore many hats. He was a long-time member of the town’s Shade Tree Commission and a guiding force of the Environmental Commission. For several years, he was curator of the Fanwood Nature Center, an 8-acre habitat that backs up against his home. He documented all of Fanwood’s older trees by age and location. The information is posted on the Fanwood website’s Trees of Fanwood page, .

“He was one of the finest Fanwoodians I’ve even known,” said Mayor Colleen Mahr. “He loved his town, his trees, his bike rides around town. I will miss him dearly.”

“In has been an honor and pleasure to know him,” said Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell, a friend for more than 30 years. “His love of Fanwood, his caring of the earth, his knowledge of trees, maple syruping, poetry and his willingness to share his talents with others, his passing is not only a loss for his family but for our town.”

His last project was to have the area around Fanwood Borough Hall designated an arboretum because of the richness of tree history therein. That project is currently in the hands of the Shade Tree Commission.

Dean was a professional engineer for Union County for 30 years designing, supervising, building and inspecting bridges. He built the original wooden footbridges in the Nature Center which were just recently replaced.

He was a member of the St. Bartholomew’s Old Timers Softball League for 28 years, a captain for 17 years and began the publicity for the league. After retiring, he began writing poetry and compiled many of his works into a self-published volume dedicated to “Linda, my wife, for tolerating my lunacy.” In August, 2022, he wrote of his years teaching:

 I hope they recall the miracle of a tree, I do and believe and feel that there must be angels around me.

In addition to his wife Linda, Dean Talcott is survived by his brother David, his wife Jeanne and their three adult children. A memorial service will be held at the Memorial Funeral Home in Fanwood on Saturday, September 9th, 2023. Further details are pending.

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