I have started to think of these oak trees as if they were people. It's not that far-fetched, really. Sure, they live 2-3 times longer than most people, but they cannot reproduce until they reach some stage of maturity -- about 20 years old. Each oak is unique, and grows more distinctive as it ages.
As most people age, it isn't usually one thing that kills us, it's some combination of things that add up over the years. Well, why wouldn't it be the same for our oaks?
I would like to think that we can afford these elders a little respect, rather than seeing how much abuse they can take before they succumb?