A story rooted in love: Seattle man decorates tree in memory of late wife

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SEATTLE — If every tree has a story and every soul has a mate, then it`s safe to say this is a story rooted in love.

It began back in 1976, with Herb Allwine and his sweetheart, Mary Lou. The husband and wife put down roots of their own in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle. And shortly thereafter, they planted a tree outside their house.

“It’s a Blireiana plum. At least that’s what I understood when we planted it,” says Herb.

About 25 years ago, the two began decorating the tree for Christmas, and things just kind of branched out from there.

“We decorated for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving,” says Herb.

When Mary Lou passed away from cancer seven years ago, Herb made sure their love story didn't end there.

“So, we keep doing it. I keep doing it. And my daughters and my grandson and my son help once in a while. We keep her going,” says Herb.

You can bet the electric bill is not cheap. And while the money to pay that bill doesn't actually grow on that tree, it certainly does generate a lot of generosity from neighbors, who’ve been known to leave a small donation from time to time on Herb’s doorstep, along with dozens of thank you cards.

Herb knows the real value is in the joy it brings.

“I had a guy years ago, lady told me her husband proposed to her under this tree,” says Herb.

So the next time you drive by 'that tree' in Phinney Ridge now, you know the story behind it -- the love story of Herb and Mary Lou.

“It’s just nice to think of your wife, who isn't here anymore. I’ll probably keep doing it as long as I can and I don`t know how long that’s going to be, but we`ll keep it going for a while,” says Herb.