BAKERTON – Carolyn Master knows the 250-year-old white oak outside her home on Bakerton Road has become unsafe, and she’s found a time that feels right to say goodbye.
Later this month, she’ll mark what would have been the 100th birthday of her husband, Dr. Donald Cameron “Doc” Master. The Canadian-born veterinarian who served as Charles Town’s mayor from 1968 to 1990 died five years ago.
In November, Master says she’ll hire experts to cut down the oak that dates to the 1780s that stands beside Masterpeace, the beautiful country home that Doc Master designed.
“The tree has kept deteriorating over the years and is just too dangerous,” she said. “Branches could fall into the road.”
Master notes the tree has been an important part of Jefferson County’s history and served as a key surveyor’s mark for many years.
Once the cutting crew leaves, Master wants to keep what remains of the tree on the property for as long as possible and plans to find a way to decorate the stump.
“I still look at it as a celebration of what life has to offer,” she said. “It was so important to Doc.”
Her husband spent 66 years running his veterinary practice for large animals. He’s remembered for accomplishments in both his civic life and for his work with animals including introducing artificial insemination for dairy cattle in the county.
Doc Master was born Oct. 31, 1918, in Weston, a town in Ontario. He came to the United States after completing his degree in veterinary medicine in Canada.
In Jefferson County, he was a leader in many organizations including the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of the West Virginia Municipal League starting in 1973.
He also built and flew his own plane. “He was a pilot up until his 80th birthday,” said Master, who moved from Montgomery County, Md., and wed Doc after his first wife, Grace, passed away at age 91.
She remembers that Doc always felt a special attachment to the tree that graces the front lawn of the bucolic home. “We had to keep trimming it,” Master said. “Doc knew when it was dying. It made him tremendously sad.”
In honor of his birthday on Halloween, she’s spruced up the old oak, surrounding its base with pumpkins and adorning a stuffed witch on its trunk.
“I’m celebrating both lives – Doc and the tree,” she said.