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Originally published February 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Page modified February 19, 2013 at 8:58 PM

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Olerud neighbors’ beloved pine felled but will get new life

Bruce and Linda Baker’s Chinese pine was cut down to improve the view from the home of retired baseball star John Olerud and his wife, but woodworker Warren Weber will create new objects from the wood.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A chain saw growled as, limb by limb, the foliage fell from Bruce and Linda Baker’s cherished Chinese pine.

Soon the crew went after the denuded trunk until it, too, was gone.

The rare pine was removed Tuesday by order of the Clyde Hill Board of Adjustment, which said it unreasonably obstructed the view from the nearby home of retired baseball star John Olerud and his wife, Kelly.

The Bakers decided last month not to appeal the ruling. The pine and a Colorado spruce will be replaced with smaller plants at the Oleruds’ expense.

“I feel like I’m doing the right thing for my neighbor,” Bruce Baker said, “but I’m standing out here watching it. It just came over me I feel so sad to see the tree go.”

But from the pine’s demise will come new life at the hands of Warren Weber, a woodworker and construction contractor.

Weber was introduced to Bruce Baker, a Presbyterian minister and Seattle Pacific University professor, by a ministerial colleague.

“When I came down and talked to Bruce, he was figuring it was a total loss, it would be firewood,” Weber said Tuesday as he watched branches fall to the ground. “I said, ‘No, no, we can’t let that happen.’ ”

Baker was impressed when he saw photos of Weber’s work, which includes cabinets, countertops, tables, bowls and sculptures.

“He said the life of the tree goes on living because it becomes an object of beauty in people’s lives. I thought that was so cool,” Baker said.

Weber said he will make products for sale and for charity out of 30 feet of the 24-inch-diameter trunk and its largest branches. After the trunk is cut into 3-inch-thick slabs and cured in a kiln, he and Baker will look at the wood and talk about what it will become.

Baker will be especially pleased if Weber uses part of the tree to make a communion table, as he did for his own church.

That, Baker said, would be “a very redeeming thing to do.”

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

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