Rockefeller Center Tree-Hunter Dies at 57

Murbach found dead two days before Christmas

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Murbach spent all year looking for the perfect tree. His replacement will have big shoes to fill.

    The man whose job it was for nearly three decades to find the trees to enliven Rockefeller Center with their resplendence during each holiday season has died.

    David Murbach was found dead in his Florida apartment just a few days before Christmas. He was 57 years old.

    For the last 26 years, Murbach has been tasked with selecting the perfect Norway spruce to rise above the ice rink at Rockefeller Center and bedazzle spectators with its shimmering lights and majestic Swarovski crystal star from December to January.

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    Next Christmas, however, the job will belong to someone else.

    A friend told the Daily News Murbach had struggled with high blood pressure and ultimately succumbed to heart disease. He died three weeks after this year's tree lighting, when the world's most famous Christmas tree burst into radiant color on national television.

    "He loved New York, and he loved bringing the magic of Christmas to Rockefeller Center," the plaza's managing director, Thomas Madden, told the News. "Year in and year out, Dave brought beauty to our midst."

    But it wasn't an easy job. Murbach would spend all year scouting out the ideal tree. He would fly in helicopters, scouring the landscape from above, rent cars and scope out trees during picturesque drives and consult his GPS to find the best location to hunt for a tree.

    "It is a tough job," the native Long Islander, who assumed his tree-hunting duties in 1984 when he was hired as Rock Center's Gardens Division manager, once told the News. "It's one in a million. You think that there are a lot of good trees around, but they're not perfect. We look for perfection."