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'Really something'
Local family donates tree to governor

CONYERS - When Anne White picked out a small tree to plant in her front yard in 1973, she had no idea that almost 35 years later it would sit in the governor's front yard.

In 1973, on a trip to North Georgia with her two sons, Jack and Wally Bowers, White pulled up a white cedar tree in the woods on some private property in Dawsonville.

"We just saw it, and I like it; I like to grow things," White said. "It was about 18 inches high, and I didn't have a cedar tree."

When the family returned to their Conyers residence on Iris Drive, White had her sons plant the tree.

"I had them plant it in the center of two other trees that were their living Christmas trees," she said. "It made a barrier for the noise from I-20."

Almost 35 years later, the tree grew to 44 feet high and 2,800 pounds.

Even though the tree is special to the family, she offered it to Gov. Sonny Perdue this year.

One day at church, she heard Trent Ozburn, a family friend who works for the Georgia Building Authority in charge of the governor's grounds, talking about a previous Georgia resident who donated a tree to Perdue's mansion for the holidays.

"I said, 'Hey, I got two Douglas firs,'" White said.

She said Ozburn came by her house a few days later to look at the trees and take pictures of them to get approval from the governor.

"(Ozburn) said he liked my cedar better," White said. "Then, he showed the pictures to Mary (Perdue), and she liked the cedar one better, too."

Although it saddened White to give away the tree that had been in the family for so long, she couldn't resist.

"It's a honor," she said. "At first I had a controversy with Jack about it, but I said, 'This is really something - not everybody gets to donate a tree to the mansion.' Then he came around my way."

On Wednesday, the Georgia Forestry Commission took the tree to the Governor's Mansion.

"It will be right at the front door outside," said Terry Quigley, chief ranger for the commission. "We took it right to the front steps, where they had a hole made for it. It will be decorated and part of the Christmas Tour of Homes."

He said the drive to transport the tree from Conyers to the mansion took almost two hours because the truck could only go 50 mph and had to maneuver through the streets of downtown Atlanta.

"The interstate wasn't too bad because we had a State Patrol escort," he said. "But on one street in Buckhead, we were running the cars onto the sidewalks."

The White family and their friends will attend a small reception with Perdue in December as thanks for their donation.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.