- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than four decades after he was killed in a tragic accident, the memory of a boy who “loved everybody” still stands tall.
Henry “Duncan” Zollinhofer, who was 10 at the time of his death, has been memorialized for the past 44 years by a weeping cherry tree, which stands to the right of the Calvert Library Fairview Branch and visitor center in Owings.
“It is a beautiful tree. Everybody sees it going by,” Diana Worth, a visitor center employee, said. “During the summer, people stop and have lunch under the tree,” Worth said.
Earlier this month, the tree blossomed and brought visitors, including Duncan’s mother, to admire its beauty.
“I try to come back every year [to see the tree’s blossoms],” Duncan’s mom, Paddy Zollinhofer Borrelli of Lexington Park, said.
Duncan was seriously injured May 17, 1969, when a truck hit him on Mt. Harmony Road while he was riding his bike, Borrelli said. He died a couple of hours later.
“He was out visiting people and inviting them to come to church,” Borrelli said.
On the day of Duncan’s death, Borrelli remembered him going to a picnic with a friend where he picked some flowers for her.
After Duncan gave the flowers to his mom, he went to baseball practice and then to a friend’s house. Duncan then went to a woman’s house to pray with her, and while on his way to another friend’s house, he was hit by the truck, Borrelli said.
“He hit his head real bad,” she said. “It was a bad day.”
After the accident, Duncan’s classmates and teachers at Fairview Elementary, which is now the library at the Calvert County visitor’s center, raised money to plant the tree and install a marker and two benches by the tree in his honor. The plaque at the tree reads: “In Memory of Duncan Zollinhofer, who died on May 17, 1969, from an injury received while riding his bike.” The students also made a book for Duncan’s family, in which they drew pictures of Duncan, showing his red hair, and wrote poems, Borrelli said.
“So many of [the poems] started with, ‘Duncan is my best friend,’” Borrelli said.
Duncan was an active child and loved sports, especially baseball, and he loved to pray and was concerned about others, Borrelli said.
Another item written in the memory book given to the Zollinhofer family said, “‘Duncan taught me how to play baseball,’” Borrelli said.
According to Borrelli, Duncan was very devoted to prayer. He would probably have been a minister like his dad, Borrelli said.
“His Sunday school teachers said they had never seen a boy that prayed like that,” she said.
Duncan’s father was a minister at Mt. Harmony, Smithville and Lower Marlboro Methodist churches at the time of Duncan’s death, Borrelli said.
Days before Duncan’s accident and death, Duncan wrote a passage from the Bible, “He has Risen, He is not here,” referencing Christ rising from the dead after crucifixion, and placed it on his wall in his room, Borrelli said. The passage was inscribed on Duncan’s grave marker.
Borrelli remembered her son as a loving child.
“He gave me a hug every day and said, ‘I love you, Mom,’” she said.
Duncan’s mother recently sat outside the library and recalled memories of her son, which made her smile.
“We lived in Texas before here and I don’t think we were there three weeks and he was talking like he was from Texas,” Borrelli said. “He thought he was hot stuff.”
Borrelli also remembered how Duncan tried to imitate his father.
“He was just a very fun, loving little boy. He wanted to be like his dad,” she said.
Duncan is survived by his mom, dad and three sisters, who all live in Southern Maryland with the exception of his father.
Borrelli has trouble visiting the memorial tree, although she thinks the cherry tree is beautiful.
“I do just what I did,” Borrelli said as she tried to hold back tears. “It always comes back.”