Wilsonville yard has Toomer’s tree

Published 3:31 pm Friday, January 28, 2011

Grady Duffey and Gene Duffey pose in front of a Baby Toomer's Corner Oak Tree in the yard of Gene's Wilsonville home. (Reporter Photo/Brad Gaskins}

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

WILSONVILLE – Gene Duffey Sr. and wife Jeanie has a piece of Toomer’s Corner planted in the yard of his Wilsonville home.

Duffey graduated from Auburn in 1955 with a degree in animal sciences.

For a Christmas present in 2004, he received a Baby Toomer’s Corner Oak Tree.

The tree came from an acorn of the big Toomer’s Corner tree in Auburn. It was grown and then sold by Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

The tree is No. 73 of 597. It came with a certificate of authenticity and instructions for planting and caring for the tree, which Duffey planted Feb. 28, 2005.

“It was very special for me,” said Duffey, who added that he “might have” rolled the oak tree at Toomer’s Corner during his years at Auburn.

It’s something the whole family – all Auburn fans – can enjoy.

Duffey’s daughter, Dianne Duffey Whitson, and son-in-law, Roger Whitson, both graduated from Auburn with degrees in education and electrical engineering, respectively.

Duffey’s son, Grady Gene Duffey Jr., graduated in 1988 with a degree in mass communications. It was Grady who first found the tree for sale on the Internet while serving in the Persian Gulf.

“It was nice to send a piece of Auburn up here while I was away,” Grady Duffey said. “I knew my dad would take care of it. He has a green thumb. I knew it would grow well, and it has.”

Micah Riley Whitson, Duffey’s grandson, graduated in 2007 with a degree in pre-medicine and picked up the baby oak tree while attending Auburn.

Another grandson, Caleb McCarley Whitson, is currently a junior in pre-med at Auburn.

“We just think the world of Auburn, and especially the tree,” Gene and Jeanie Duffey said.