TreesCharlotte co-founder Rolfe Neill leaves a legacy of generosity

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July 14, 2023 (CHARLOTTE, NC) –TreesCharlotte joins the greater Charlotte community in mourning the loss of Rolfe Neill, one of the founding board members of the organization.

Widely known for his role as former publisher of the Charlotte Observer and for his contributions in shaping the city of Charlotte, Neill also held a deep passion for our city’s tree canopy. As a member of the TreesCharlotte Board of Directors from 2012–2021 and an early advocate for Charlotte’s tree canopy, Neill worked alongside other notable Charlotteans who embraced the vision and mission of TreesCharlotte. Neill shared his reason for taking on the task of saving our city’s canopy earlier this year stating, “Most of the things we value or enjoy, we take for granted. Often, they’ve been here when we arrived; we assume ‘somebody’ is taking care. Actually, only a very small number of people are involved in taking care of our trees.” 

TreesCharlotte Chairman of the Board of Directors, Thrus Morton, expressed his gratitude for Neill’s contribution to the organization, reflecting “Rolfe was instrumental in the formation and direction of TreesCharlotte since the beginning. Our mission would not be realized without his vision and leadership and it was a pleasure to work with him, particularly on the founding of the TreesCharlotte Endowment Fund. His dedication to TreesCharlotte will have a lasting impact on our city’s urban forest.”

Morton is not alone in recognizing the role Neill played in the mission of TreesCharlotte. In December 2022, A $1 million donation in Neill’s honor was gifted to the TreesCharlotte Endowment Fund by the C.D. Spangler Foundation, as well as a $100,000 gift from TreesCharlotte supporters Susan and Loy McKeithen.

Executive Director Jane Singleton Myers noted, “Rolfe was a wonderful, dear and generous man, devoted to his passions and making a difference for our city. As recently as June, Rolfe was still editing publications for TreesCharlotte, helping us put forth our best. His bright, passionate light was an inspiration and will be deeply missed.”

Written by: Mandy Ravin, TreesCharlotte Communications, 7/14/2023