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Corvette Club Pays Tribute to the Late Former Kentwood Mayor Richard Root

by Mitch Talley on June 12, 2012

Corvette Club Pays Tribute to the Late Former Kentwood Mayor Richard Root
Sally Finneran | MLive

The love that Corvette owners have for one another never was clearer than Sunday in Kentwood, Michigan.

That’s when some 65 Corvettes rumbled past the home of late Kentwood Mayor Richard Root to pay homage to a dedicated Corvette owner who lost his four-year battle with cancer on Friday.

In the driveway of his home was his prized 1971 Corvette, which he had bought new. Next to the car was his empty folding chair, with the cupholders stuffed with his cigar case and an unopened beer. His wife of 44 years, Karleen, and son Damon sat nearby to watch the outpouring of love.

“This started off really as me and a few of the guys were going to go over, just before he passed away, and just kind of say hi,” said Clarence Patterson, a Kentwood firefighter and longtime friend of Root.

Root was a member of the Grand Valley Corvette Association, and when members found out about the tribute, the size of the ride quickly grew. The West Michigan Crew of the Corvette Forum also helped honor their fellow Corvette fanatic.

“He knew a lot of people, not even from the mayor side of it, but just from being a car guy, and that’s what this is all about,” Patterson said “It would have been great if we could have done this before he passed away.”

Damon talked with a reporter about his father’s 1971 Corvette, which he used until 1974 as a daily driver. After that he devoted a lot of time to upgrading the car, including two engines, a new transmission, and a new paint job.

“A lot of people get tired of something after a short period of time,” Damon said, “but we made changes literally within the past couple of months. And he would sit in the garage and look upon the car, in his mind still the coolest thing on the street.”

Corvette Club Pays Tribute to the Late Former Kentwood Mayor Richard Root

You can see more photos of the tribute at

Photo Credit: Sally Finneran | MLive

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