Gary Bernath is the deceased husband of Troy University Dothan Campus Library staff member Tina Bernath. He was born in Toledo, Ohio, and after graduating from Wauseon, Ohio, High School in 1970 enlisted in the US Air Force. He and Tina M. Gamber married in 1978 them moved to Ozark, Alabama, so Gary could attend the Alabama Aviation and Technical College. He received his A&P Mechanics License, then relocated first to Ohio then Oklahoma City, then back to Ozark, AL, so Gary could pursue his Avionics credentials. He also attended Wallace Community College where he managed the “Wallace Governors” baseball team, and Troy State University Dothan. He was a member of the Napier Field Volunteer Fire Department, 1990-2005, and worked with Sammy Frichter, Jr., to establish the Wiregrass Cardinals baseball team under American Legion, then AAU Baseball sponsorship. The tree was dedicated by his widow, Tina, in 2006.
“…A fast-growing, nearly evergreen tree, `Drake' Chinese Elm forms a graceful, spreading, rounded canopy of long, arching, and somewhat weeping branches which are clothed with two to three-inch-long, shiny, dark green, leathery leaves. Some specimens grow in the typical vase-shaped elm form, others appear to grow horizontally instead of upright like a tree. In the cooler part of its range in fall, leaves are transformed into various shades of red, purple, or yellow. The tree is evergreen in the southern extent of its range. The showy, exfoliating bark reveals random, mottled patterns of grey, green, orange, and brown, adding great textural and visual interest, especially to its winter silhouette. The Chinese Elm species can reach 80 feet in height but this cultivar probably grows to about 40 to 50 feet tall. It makes an ideal shade, specimen, street or parking lot tree, provided it is trained and pruned to allow for vehicular and pedestrian clearance below. They look very nice planted in a grove or along a street.” [Source: Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson, “Ulmus parvifolia 'Drake': 'Drake' Chinese Elm,” University of Florida IFAS Extension EDIS. Publication #ENH-810. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st653 ]