"She knew that Patrick talked to trees like there are horse whisperers," foundation representative Jay Rodriguez said.
Pollia recognized creative genius and she saw it in McCullough, who'd worked as an arborist for her, he said.
Funds from Pollia's property, leases and companies have, at her behest, all gone to support the arts, Rodriguez said.
She loved writers and artists but also poets, woodworkers and the work McCullough did with trees, he said.
People who spoke at the ceremony touched on McCullough's synergy with trees and his integrity as a human being.
A local resident, tree surgeon and friend of McCullough's, Gary Knowlton, recalled a time that McCullough diagnosed the problem with a dying tree in his yard.
"He scampered up the tree like a squirrel," Knowlton said.
McCullough climbed up the trunk of the sick tree without gear or a harness and came down with a handful of mites that were causing the decay.
McCullough's brother David McCullough recalled his brother's knowledge of the relationship between trees and people and of Patrick McCullough's thirst for knowledge and discovery.
Town officials including La Crescenta honorary mayor Ira Hart and Town Council Chairwoman Sharon Hales also spoke in Patrick McCullough's honor.
"In these times of despair, this is a real welcome respite to celebrate a beautiful life," Hales said. "I didn't know Patrick but I am affected already."
But Knowlton summed up most of the sentiment about McCullough with a succinct statement.
"Yeah, good man," he said.
TRACY E. GILCHRIST covers the foothills. She may be reached at (818) 637-3239 or by e-mail at tracy.gilchristlatimes.com.