Longtime Middlefield arborist retires after 40 years, loss of hand

Longtime Middlefield arborist retires after 40 years, loss of hand

MIDDLEFIELD — Retirement is always an adjustment, but one local man has had to deal with so much more as he leaves his profession.

Allan Poole, of Allan’s Tree Service, is retiring after 40 years as an arborist after losing a hand in a mechanical accident two months ago.

Allan’s Tree Service served the greater Middletown area for more than 30 years. Poole got his arborist license in 1976 and began his business in earnest in 1984. It started as a one-person business that grew to add crews and office workers.

Poole’s career always had him outside. He worked as a state honeybee inspector, inspecting colonies of domestic honeybees for diseases, pruning apple trees for several central Connecticut orchards, and renting bees for pollination.

He liked being outside and active, and working with machinery. Tree work “seemed like the right fit,” he said.

Poole’s wife, Nancy Winship-Poole, said tree service “is not a job or a career, it is a lifestyle.”

In addition to her own job and motherhood, she did the books and took care of the office. About 15 years ago, they hired an office manager.

“We lived and breathed it all the time,” Winship-Poole said. “We answered phones during dinner. We got calls at 4 a.m. when a tree went over onto someone’s boat.”

During his career, Poole evaluated trees for safety, pruning, removing, and bracing them, diagnosed and sprayed trees for diseases, ground stumps, and generated a truckload of chips every day, which people took for mulch or Boy Scout projects. He cleared the view for solar panels as part of the Solarize Durham project, and even donated a large diameter hollow tree to the John Lyman Elementary School playground, where it sat until roughly 10 years of play wore it out.

Storms were always a “double-edged sword,” Winship-Poole said. It meant lots of work, but damp ground made it hard to triage, and phone service would go down.

“Sometimes we had people driving down the driveway saying, ‘can you take care of our trees?’” she said.

It became apparent Poole would need to retire after he lost his right hand in an accident using a wood processor in September. Poole said they were “emotionally devastated.”

“We had a lot of support from the community, people bringing meals to us” and sending cards, Winship-Poole said. “We didn’t know our community was so big.”

“It feels like we’ve fallen,” Poole said, “and they picked us up and carried us.”

Poole said he plans to transfer his business to Pete the Tree Guy, an arborist business in Cromwell. An open-house retirement party for friends and customers is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 23 at Indian Springs Golf Club. 

Poole isn’t giving up the outdoors entirely. In early spring, Poole will continue to offer a free workshop on fruit tree pruning. He’ll also continue his woodworking hobby and tending to his 17 beehives.

More on the story of Poole’s hand loss can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/poolehandluke.



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