Do Pussy Willows get old and die?

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When I moved into my house 12 yrs ago I planted a pussy willow because I was nostalgic for my Rhode Island roots . It flourished until 2 years ago, reaching a height of about 15 feet. Then there was an all out infestation of aphids, I called Rutgers University and a master gardener told me how to safely get rid of the aphids ( and all the bees and wasps they were attracting ) . She was recovering nicely and then last fall the north side of her just started to die, very little leaf growth, few kittens. This year at least 1/2 of the tree was non preforming. I wondered if the previous stress and Hurricane Irene last year ~~even though she wasn't much for us but a big blow really could have just done the Pussy Willow in? I came home the other day to find it had been removed from the yard and mulched by a tree guy at my husbands behest~ I was heart broken. Would have liked a cutting to try and root but nothing left:( unfortunately I have no photos of how she looked. Really wish I had found this site first!
Anyone have a clue what might have ailed my tree??
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