Rooted in tragedy: The story of the children’s hospital tree

Rooted in tragedy, the massive tree that towers in front of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia has grown to represent the dedication and sacrifice of the two members of the neonatal transport team it was planted to memorialize.

This is the story of Art Hardy and Debbie Matthei, told by those who knew them. “To those who knew and loved them, their memory will never grow old.”

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Debbie Matthei’s daughter, Whitney, wrote a poem she shared with the hospital’s neonatal staff following her mother’s death in the 1993 plane crash. Read the poem in her original handwriting.

My Mom

That was all her time was buying.
I remember the phone call saying
She didn’t make it,
I remember the pain and I
Still can’t take it.
They said it was already her time to leave,
That’s a fact,
I didn’t want to believe.
I would do all I could
To get her life back,
It’s her beautiful smile
That we all lack.
I miss her
Glowing and happy face,
The one that no one
Can ever replace.
I feel so bad,
You’re probably wondering why,
It’s just the simple fact that
I never said
Her death has left us in such deep sorrow,
But we’ve got to realize
There’s no promise
For tomorrow.

Each year, the Augusta University Department of Respiratory Therapy honors the memory of Art Hardy by hosting the Art Hardy Memorial Golf Tournament. Proceeds from the tournament support the Art Hardy Scholarship Fund and other respiratory therapy education resources. The scholarship helps close the loop between the tragic loss and the new generation of health professionals. Learn more about the Art Hardy Memorial Scholarship.

Past Recipients

2015 – Benjamin Charles Hill
2014 – Musi Nde
2013 – Mallory Bodolosky and Heather Pretzello
2012 – Katie Borseth and Amber Sherrill
2010 – Garrick Bjorn Spoon and Rachel Edith Stern
2009 – Christen E. Adcock
2008 – Caitlin Fincher
2007 – Adam Whittemore
2006 – Andrea Coachman

With thanks to WRDW-TV News 12 for permission to use historical news footage.

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Written by
Arthur Takahashi

Arthur Takahashi is Digital Media Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706–446–5128 or

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Written by Arthur Takahashi

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