Castleberry, Donald Gene
About Donald Gene Castleberry
Donald Gene Castleberry was a 21-year-old junior attending the University of Maryland College Park. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta, and lived in the fraternity house during his time attending college. He attended Severna Park High School until 1994. He was a popular student according to his family and captain of the school lacrosse team. Donald died in his sleep on April 5th, 1997, four days after his 21st birthday, due to heart failure caused by a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. While Donald and his family knew about his condition from very early on, it wasn’t deemed alarming, as less than 1% of those with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome die from it. His funeral was held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Severna Park, with his burial at Lakemont Memorial Gardens in Davidsonville.
About the Willow Oak
The tree is a willow oak located in the rear between house #2 & #3 on frat row. There is a metal plaque in the ground at the base of the tree. The dedicated date appears to be April 19, 1998. Quercus phellos is a North American species of deciduous tree in the red oak group of oaks. Native to the south-central and eastern United States, the tree can be found in states such as Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and can grow in Hardiness Zones 5-9. The Willow Oak commonly grows on floodplains along streams. What differentiates the Willow Oak from other oaks is its leaf shape, which resembles the long and slender structure of a willow tree leaf. The Willlow Oak planted in honor of Donald is 24 years old, meaning it has reached maturity and has most likely begun seeding. The choice of the tree may reflect the characteristics of Donald, whose friends and family have described him as strong and unwavering and unique from others, words used to describe the Willow Oak as well.