It was a sunny day Saturday when more than 30 friends gathered to plant a tree and help with spring cleanup at the home the Renae Shepley in Cambridge.

Last November Noel Shepley, 42, died in a tractor accident in Cambridge. After his death, coworkers decided to plant a tree at the Shepley home and on the Iowa State campus. The group also decided to help with spring cleanup and build a fence at the family’s home.

Gary Olja, Janet Schneider and Danny Cox all worked with Noel and led the way in planning the cleanup and tree plantings. Olja encouraged Noel to apply for a job at Iowa State and worked with Noel for 17 years.

"We worked together every day for the past seven years," Olja said. "There are two red maple trees on campus, and every time we drove past one of those trees, Noel would say he wanted to plant one in his yard."

"He’s missed," said Cox. "He was always happy, kind and would help anyone and he always had encouraging words. He was a Hawkeye fan and I was a Cyclone fan — we would go back and forth."

Renae and Noel have four daughters, Lydia, Cassidy, Mallory and Holly, who helped plant the tree on Saturday at the Shepley home. Renae said there are no words to describe the support and blessings she’s received since the accident. She said Noel cared about others and they cared about him.

"He was a man of God, a hard worker, he would do anything for anyone and loved being outside; he’ll be missed and I’ll never forget him," Renae said.

Noel was born June 12, 1970, to Gary and Judy (Ridenhour) Shepley, who live in Cambridge. He graduated from Ballard High School in 1988 and attended Des Moines Area Community College. He married Renae Smith in 1996 at Grace Church in Des Moines. He worked for Iowa State as a plumber and was a member of Cornerstone Church in Ames.

Country Landscapes, Inc., of Ames, delivered the two 12 foot red maple trees. Renee Hanlon, nursery manager at Country Landscapes, said Kankakee Wholesale in Ill. donated the trees after they heard about the Shepley family.

(To report Cambridge news, please contact Barb McBreen at 515-383-2244 or by e-mail at barbmcbreen@gmail.com. Or you may drop off news items in the evening or on weekends at 217 Seventh St., Cambridge.)