Familiar Faces – Meet Jake Rothermel
By Jennifer Hetrick
Jake Rothermel of Boyertown’s Woodchoppertown region is a man of the trees in the truest sense of such words.
Almost fourteen years ago, Rothermel joined a handful of other outdoorsy types when he took a job with Hopewell Nursery, which is located on Route 562 in Boyertown.
(submitted photo - Rothermel and his 2009-altered thumb)
Rothermel titles himself broadly, a nurseryman, as he is often operating large equipment, digging out and preparing trees to leave the property, or delivering plant materials to homeowners.
Previously, Rothermel served as a foreman for almost 17 years with Ringing Hill Landscaping, which once existed in Gilbertsville.
While still with that company during the early 1990s, Rothermel assisted in the completion of a retaining wall in King of Prussia at a business center visible from the state turnpike.
“Each time I drive by there, I remark to my family that I helped to construct it,” Rothermel said, explaining that he felt proud for his efforts in the project.
“It’s tough,” Rothermel, 62, said about his literally labor-intensive work. “I enjoy what I’m doing, but I also know it’s catching up with me, since it involves a lot of [heavy] lifting.”
Rothermel sometimes gets distracted in conversations with customers about their pets and can certainly be named an appreciator of fur kids.
His daughters Christy and Kelly often let him and his wife Donna of 35 years babysit their Rottweilers and German Shepherd.
In fact, watching the ‘grand-dogs’ is one of the better perks of his life now, he acknowledged.
Two Januarys ago, Rothermel slammed the tailgate of a dump truck into his thumb and lost the top portion.
“I have more trouble tying burlap together than shoelaces,” Rothermel said. “It’s funny how that half inch to an inch of your thumb on the end means a lot.”
Rothermel recalled a time when one of his most cherished memories in the nursery surmised.
A family walked in to select shrubs to plant around their home, and with them, they brought their four-year-old daughter.
“She found a smooth stone and handed it to me, saying I should keep this,” Rothermel said. “Ever since, I consider it my lucky stone and carry it with me wherever I go—even on vacation.”
One of Rothermel’s favorite ornamental trees is a Coral Bark Japanese Maple, with its trunk and branches a bright pinkish red hue until it matures.
(Rothermel's favorite ornamental tree of the moment, a Coral Bark Japanese Maple)
The biggest tree Rothermel has ever moved was an approximately 25 foot tall Red Sunset Maple with a 50 inch root ball and a five inch trunk width at chest-level.
(two Redwood trees, but similar in size to the largest Red Sunset Maple Rothermel moved)
At least three people were needed to stand it up while using operating equipment.
At home, Rothermel has a 1934 Ford street rod in addition to a canary yellow 1970 Ford Mustang and would like to visit more car shows in the future.
In the food realm, Rothermel loves sweet and sour chicken, stuffed peppers, and homemade potpie.
When he turns 63 in June, he plans to eat for free at Shady Maple’s smorgasbord and hopes it will fall on either seafood or steak night.
So if you see Jake Rothermel loading trees at Hopewell Nursery, offer a kind hello to another Familiar Face.