This memorial website was created in memory of Rod Harris, beloved husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, uncle, son, and friend. He will be sorely missed and remembered always in our hearts.

*The quote above is a version of a phrase he used many, many times when pulled over for speeding. He saw speed limits more as speed minimums....Hopefully during the memorial service someone will share a fun story related to his Canadian speeding tickets.

Thank you for those of you who were able to attend the virtual memorial service. If you'd like to watch a recording, you can access it via the Gallery under "videos".

Immediate Family Contact Information
Nina Harris
15920 Cinca Terra
Bee Caves, TX 78738

Keely Denenberg
719 Butler Cove
West Lake Hills, TX 78746

Tyler Harris
1522 Mahan Avenue
Richland, WA 99354

On Monday, April 26, 2021, Rodney “Rod” Warren Harris, loving husband, father of two, and grandfather, passed away at the age of 75. Rod was born on October 9, 1945 in Wakefield, MI to Reed and Sylvia (Keskey) Harris Maki. He earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University in 1967, raced semi-professionally before having children, then worked as an automotive service director until retirement in 2010. On June 29, 1968, Rod married his love Nina Mia Piazza and raised a daughter, Keely (Gary Denenberg), and son, Tyler. Rod had a passion for the thrill of speed and racing. He raced across the Midwest in cars ranging from a Shelby Mustang GT500, Corvette Stingray, Viper GTS, a Trans Am Race Series Camaro, and an open wheel Formula Mazda, winning several races and making lifelong friends. All were quickly made aware of one of his favorite activities to give people the “ride of their lives” in whichever sports car he owned at the time. Rod also loved boating with family and friends in Lake St Clair and the Great Lakes. Every summer weekend in the 80’s and early 90’s was spent on the lakes skiing, swimming, and exploring. And his infectious smile and friendly greeting always made everyone feel welcome and at ease even to the very end. Rod was preceded in death by his parents, Reed and Sylvia, and brother, Reed. He is survived by his wife Nina, his sister Annette, his two children, Keely and Tyler, his two grandchildren, Mia and Leo, numerous nieces & nephews, and K9 companion Bianca.

Memorial Gifts

Anyone looking to make a donation in memory of Rod is encouraged to consider the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Foundation. You can learn more about the foundation here:
About | SCCA Foundation

Their mission is to support  hands-on education and safety programs, recognize excellence in automotive engineering education and promote the SCCA’s heritage and club history. The goal of the SCCA Foundation is to give back to our communities.

To make a memorial donation, go to this page, click the yellow "donate" button and after you list the amount, click the "add a note" section and write "In Memory of Rod Harris" so the foundation will notify us and we can thank you for your memorial gift.
Posted by Toni and Maury Dean on April 26, 2022
We are remembering Rod today amongst many other days throughout the year. He was an amazing brother-in-law and is missed by our whole family. 
Our love to Nina, Keely, Gary, Tyler, Rachel, Mia & Leo on this day of rememberance.
Thinking of you,
Toni and Maury
Posted by Steve Cobb on April 26, 2022
RIP Rod...
Posted by Steve Cobb on October 10, 2021
RIP Rod. Love to the family.
Posted by Rachel Lamb on September 8, 2021
I met Rod for the first time under less than ideal circumstances; after Tyler and I killed his Viper. For context, I met Tyler as a freshman at Michigan State on the first night of welcome week festivities. Two kids with bleached hair at a bad party with an even worse band playing. After he left the U, we kept in touch over the years including the time he was serving in the Marines. When my big sister got married, it was just after 9/11 and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to serve my country than inviting a Marine to be my date :). Tyler showed up in his dress blues, and even my newly wedded sister swooned, but it was the car he drove up in that got the most attention- Rod’s blue Viper. Yes, I was the passenger in that ill-fated ride. I remember standing by the side of the road as Tyler called his dad to break the news about our accident. I fully expected to hear screaming from the other end of the phone, but amazingly, what happened was that Rod just wanted to hear if his son was ok and not injured. He didn’t care or express concern for anything other than Tyler, and that is the first and most lasting impression I have of him. The second was that he made sure Tyler stuck out the rest of the wedding festivities, sort of honoring his commitment to me (which on a selfish level, I was grateful for- I mean he was in those dress blues, might as well make the most of it?!). The next day Rod and Nina drove up to where we were, and as I watched Tyler go to meet them outside (it was kind of like what I imagined walking the plank would be), I saw again the kind of father Rod was; he gave Tyler a huge hug, the kind of hug that let Tyler know it really was ok. As a kid, you sometimes just need that reassurance from your parent that they put you above everything else; that nothing is more important than you. And that’s what Rod did, which speaks to his character as a man and a father.

The next time I saw the Harris family was just a short while later, when Tyler ran the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. I decided to drive out from Michigan to show him some support, not expecting to have much time with Tyler but just to be there for him like he had been there for me at my sister’s wedding. I was surprised that instead of trying to spend every second they could with their son, Rod and Nina insisted on welcoming me to hang out with them as a family. While Tyler was running each of those 26.2 miles, I got to spend time with them, moving around the city to try and catch a glimpse of their son throughout the race and yelling out his name. To see them excited and proud of their son as he accomplished a goal he had set for himself, as Tyler’s friend it really was special to see and I remember thinking how truly lucky Tyler was to have a mom and dad who were so supportive of what he was doing. Equally as memorable, it was so sweet to see how much Rod and Nina loved each other; you could just see it in the way they talked to each other or the subtle nuances of their body language. I remember it because it was not something I saw in my own parents, and it's really something that as a child you don't realize is so rare, until you grow up and look for that in your own relationships.

While I can’t say that I knew Rod as well as most of the people here, I do feel that I got a pretty good look at the man he was and I can say with certainty that he was one of the good ones. I am lucky to have known him, and grateful for the son he raised; I have no doubt he was proud of the man Tyler became, and really, what better a legacy to have left behind?
Posted by Laura Duckett on May 20, 2021
I felt like this poem was a reminder that without a perfect life, he chose to be happy, he chose to be present, and he always chose to smile.
“Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there.”
In contrast, he is everywhere. <3

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
By Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Posted by John Rische on May 20, 2021
Been pondering on words I could say-so many touching things said by those who knew him more than I did. We had a random, absolutely by change way of knowing each other. I own his first 1969 corvette race car, and so randomly found he was the original owner and searched his name on the internet. Found him, introduced myself as the owner of his first vette and I could feel his eyes light up that the car still existed. Shared a lot of stories, shared so much info and pictures of the car and his racing life. We got together and meet in person along with his bride Nina. He trusted me with all his records and photos to copy. He came to the track a couple times to see the car on track and even brought the window sticker for the car-amazing! I wish the family continued blessings and continue to remember who Rod was and the wonderful memories-not that he has passed.
Thank you for sharing a small part of him with me and my family.
God bless you all
Posted by Keely Denenberg on May 17, 2021
A Song of Living, by Amelia Josephine Burr

Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings,
to be lost in the blue of the sky.
Posted by Keely Denenberg on May 17, 2021
To Those Who I Love and Those Who Love Me, author unknown

When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.

Posted by Nina Harris on May 16, 2021
It's hard to say goodbye to the man I've known since I was 20 years old. We married and created a home together. We had children and dogs, cars and boats and were blessed with health and happiness. We grew apart several times but always came back to each other because we realized we belonged together matter what else was happening in our lives. 

Now he’s gone and I’m alone. Most of the time I’m okay – if you ask me that’s how I’ll respond. But other times sadness hits me and I have to cry, like now. 

I am so thankful for memories of our time together. I am thankful for my family and friends and neighbors who say and do thoughtful things. This site means so much to me because it’s a reminder of everyone who loved him and will miss him as much as I do.

Thanks to all of you…

Posted by Reed Harris II on May 16, 2021
Rod was a great uncle and I shared his love for cars. I look back fondly on him always having a car race on the tv when I would visit or hearing his stories of his latest race or car modification. I always loved the picture of him on the wall in his white Corvette Stingray. In some ways he understood my love for “driving too fast” much more than my Dad who would never condone it :)
RIP Uncle Rod, you lived life at full throttle and will be missed dearly
Posted by Toni and Maury Dean on May 12, 2021
My brother-in-law Rod Harris--a Celebration
   Rod Harris is one of the most friendly and kind and unique people I have ever known. My brother-in-law over half a century, Rod was the living embodiment of the expression--"You can take t he kid out of Michigan, but you can never take Michigan out of the kid." A Mechanical Engineering major at Michigan State, Rod was a cinch for success in most everything he attempted. My wife Toni's sister Nina also found this young man in vigorous pursuit of whatever the American Dream might be. Amped by his mechanical genius and a speedy rainbow, Rod found his destiny in the land and waterworld of racing. Rod sprinted around the USA, including Watkins Glen Raceway, in a series of Shelby Mustangs, Dodge V-10 Vipers, or supersonic sizzling Camaros--plus Nina's Mazda Miata. All of these prime props found Rod Harris the roads of glory, but his destination was always home to his spectacular family. It includes his wonderful wife Nina, his tremendous daughter Keely, and cool Sustainable Engineer son Tyler, and a series of Golden Retrievers from Buffy to Mac to Rumor to currently bereaved Bianca. In Rod's later Texan years after his St. Clair Michigan river house, Rod expanded his legendary grandfather role to Mia and Leo. When Toni and I vagabonded our own family way from Vancouver to Miami to Long Island, Rod at 30 had been an exec at a Boston's Raytheon, and a San Francisco 'Autotorium,' near my sister Blair and Bob Cooter's place. Rod always enlightened Toni and our kids Lauri, Jeremy, and Rambha on how to keep our chariots humming. Rod and Nina and their burgeoning family also thrived in Novi, Farmington, and Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Bloomington, Indiana. Both Nina and Toni became Librarians, to complement Rod's entrepreneurial success in the automotive, boating, and sports car world, and my own academia adventures. From a personal perspective, Rod's racing wasn't confined to Goodyear tires. Rod had many years as a fearless marathon runner [Detroit Free Press Marathon, 1982+], crunching the elusive 8-minute mile for 26+ miles. Rod convinced me that I too could go the distance unslowly in racing shoes (good thing, since our clunky minivans never won any super-speed prizes). Rod's easygoing smile, amiable nature, kind manner, and tireless empathy for our mother-in-law Leota Piazza (1909-2007) showed that he was an ideal man for Nina, who deserves the best. Rod and I were hampered by one quirky thing: we could NEVER tell mother-in-law jokes, because our sweet mom-in-law was the gold standard! One cold 2010 night Rod and Nina stopped by our cottage, and we had a big fire in the new fireplace. Rod was in a great mood, and mentioned one highlight of his enchanted evening--"We sat there by that warm roaring fire, and I got to watch YOU out there in the cold chopping the WOOD!" We Deans have been blessed by a half-century of the adventures of Rod Harris, and we lament that it's not near enough TIME!  So long, my friend-----Maury Dean

Posted by Toni and Maury Dean on May 12, 2021
In Memory of Rod Harris

Rod has been a part of our lives since shortly after my sister Nina and Rod met at Michigan State University. We are a MSU family. Nina and I lived in the same dormitory for a year, after which Maury and I were married in 1965. After that, we all moved from place to place, through the years, but have always remained close. We were part of their wedding in Ludington in 1967 which was a great celebration. 
Rod was always welcoming us to their home. Because we eventually settled on Long Island, NY, we mostly visited when we spent summers at our place on a small lake in Union Lake, Michigan. They were among our first visitors to the fixer-upper cottage that kept us anchored in our Michigan roots. That is when we established our tradition of the Un-birthday celebrations each summer with the cousins. Our children Lauri, Jeremy, and Rambha always loved spending time with Keely and Tyler and their Aunt and Uncle.
It was wonderful that we could remain close despite the hundreds of miles between our homes. Rod was always able to advise us on which cars to purchase, and how to deal with the mechanical problems that arose. He was very skilled in his field, and always helped us with auto advise. 
A particularly kind and generous aspect of Rod’s personality was how he shared their home with our Mother, Leota Piazza. He and Nina set up a very comfortable apartment for Mom. Each evening she shared dinner with them, and was well cared for there in her later years. I will always be eternally grateful for that kindness. The lighter side of Mom’s time with them was how many times Rod moved her “stuff” from place to place as she transitioned to other homes. 
Rod was a wonderful brother-in-law, who was more a brother, and we will greatly miss his smile, his kindness, and his generosity. We can’t forget how our grandsons enjoyed his company particularly those boat rides on the St. Clair River where Rod so enjoyed his time there.
So many years! So many good times. We will miss Rod! 
Toni Dean, Nina’s Sister

Posted by Robert Dykema on May 8, 2021
Rod was a favorite cousin We are same age and grew up together ,We did many fun activities during the 1950' s early 1960's when we saw each other,Went fishing swimming Spring Lake Michigan Played baseball many times .Went to movies and places to eat together .Remember swimming in St Clair River at St Clair Michigan .The river current was very strong We were happy we made it back to shore,I was happen to be a groomsman in his wedding in 1968 .He has wonderful wife and family who I love and respect always .I will never forget Rod and he will always be in my heart forever .Rod was always nice to everyone he met He had the most wonderful smile that showed his love and respect of you.

Posted by Keely Denenberg on May 7, 2021
My cousin Tiffany, who lost her father/my uncle/Rod's brother not that many years ago, suggested a write a list of my dad's qualities. I thought I would share them here. Certainly it's not a complete list but this is a good start.
Posted by Penny Knapp on May 7, 2021
The first time we met Rod was when he was interested in purchasing our 2001 Trans Am Camaro Blaise had built. In 2003, Blaise & Rod decided it would be easy for him to come up, stay over night at our place so that they could spend some time going over the car. I was not impressed that Blaise had invite a stranger he met over the internet to stay with us. It took about 2 minutes to realize that Rod was a kind gentle man and I felt like I knew him forever.

It is truly amazing how small the racing community is; how we all know each other through someone else and how we become long lasting friends and part of the family on chance meetings. What started off as a transaction turned into years of Rod, Nina, Keely & Tyler spending many days with us at many race tracks in Canada and the USA having a great time together. When Rod sold this race car, he & Nina joined our Team and travelled all over the place to help us out.

Our hearts are broken over the loss of Rod, our "racing" brother, our friend. May Rod's memory be a blessing to all of you as it is to us. 

With Love,
Penny & Blaise
Posted by Patricia Quinn McIlrath on May 4, 2021
Our time with Rod was always well spent because he didn't have social boundaries that earmarked people/family. He was glad to see us and gratious to say goodby, listened carefully and asked questions that showed he cared, never appeared to forget anything !!!! , had interesting comments and was never boring! A great person who will be missed by all.
Posted by Annette Gibson on May 3, 2021
“Baby sister,” that was Rod’s loving name he gave me. Of course, it annoyed me as a child. But I finally realized that when he would start a phone conversation with “how’s my baby sister doing,” it was out of love. Oh how I’ll miss him saying that....

As Keely noted, I am now the only living person that knew Rod the longest. As noted by so many, his nature was throughout his ENTIRE life- joyous!

As we all have heard, “live your life to the fullest each day” and with positivity. Rod truly did this throughout his life from his challenging job as a teenage with Biewer Lumber company in St. Clair MI to always making everyone feel warmly welcomed and entertained by him. He even made for me (along with my brother Reed and my Dad) the best Halloween haunted house EVER for my birthday party in the basement of our childhood house. Then there was Silver Lake where he made sure that we all were having fun!

Entertainment/music was always a big part of our family. He kept the beat with his talented percussion skills and received scholarships at the highly accredited Interlochen music camp in Michigan. The Sertomonaires was the best drum and bugle corp because he was part of it!

Rod is now smiling & drumming to music in the Harris Band with my brother Reed on the trombone, my Dad dancing (& drumming too), and my mother singing (yes, she could sing). 

Rod and I had such a special brother-sister connection and his “baby sister” will miss him dearly.
Posted by Keely Denenberg on May 3, 2021
"Colorful" by Rocco DeLuca is a song I've started to associate with my dad, as the lyrics remind me of him and how he lived his life.

Here are the lyrics:

You swim like you're on fire
Live like your last day
Drink like it's water
There's no tomorrow
And you think no one can hear you
Raise your hands to be called on
You know all the answers

You're the most colorful thing that I've seen
You're the most colorful thing that I've seen
You're the most colorful thing that I've seen

You dance like no one's watching
Sing till the song ends
Then you sing some more
And we can hardly believe it
Words that flow from your mouth
Drink like it's water

You're the most colorful thing that I've seen
You're the most beautiful thing that I've seen
You're the most colorful thing that I've seen

You are an enigma walking
Make no excuses for the way that you carry on
And we can hardly believe it
Words that flow from your mouth
Drink like it's water, girl
Drink like it's water, girl

You're the most colorful thing that I've seen
You're the most beautiful thing that I've seen
You're the most colorful thing that I've seen
You are so colorful

If you'd like to listen to the song:
Posted by Gary Denenberg on May 3, 2021
Boppa was my father-in-law and I couldn't have asked for a better one. He welcomed me into his family day 1 and was so pleasant and easy our entire time together. He was game for anything and was always there with a helping hand. My kids adored him and he would light up whenever they entered the room. Rod's passing is very sad, especially since he and Mia & Leo had such a small block of time together.

It's been difficult watching Keely suffer with the loss of her dad, but I do understand as she loved him so much. Whether it was waking up at sunrise to take Keely water skiing when the water was the calmest or helping her fix things he was always available and happy to be involved.

Such a great guy that I will really miss
Posted by Steve Cobb on May 3, 2021
Rod is one of the kindest, friendliest, and most fun people I have ever known.

He facilitated a date for me with my beautiful wife Kimberly long ago.

I will always remember Rod for his caring, loving way.
Posted by Keely Denenberg on May 2, 2021
So many people have mentioned Rod's good nature/friendliness this week as they shared memories of him with me. Here's a tribute to his smile, which he was always generous to offer to friends, family and strangers.
Posted by Keely Denenberg on April 27, 2021
Last night my beloved Dad took his last breath while my Mom held his hand. Father, grandfather, father-in-law, husband, brother, uncle, son, friend – he wore his most important titles with love and pride.

He was the eternal optimist – every glass he saw was half-full, never half-empty. His love of fast cars and water sports was only eclipsed by his love of family, and he got just as much, if not more joy, from seeing other people enjoy the things he loved – especially boating and waterskiing. He was a “doer” – active and up for adventure; as an example, he was always the first person to jump in (never ease into!) the cold water to encourage everyone else, making it all the more heartbreaking to watch him decline in mind and later in body in recent years.

In recent weeks I loved seeing how his face would light up when he saw my mom (they were married for 52 years) and the joy that came over his face when he recognized me. I take comfort in the fact that he knew who I was up until the end. What is very clear to me is how much he loved us – unconditionally - and how proud he was of Tyler, Mia, Leo and me.

I’m so grateful for the time I had with him as my father for almost 48 years, as well as the time I had with him over the last few days while, as the hospice nurse put it, his body did the “hard work.” I was able tell him many times how much I loved him, how much I would miss him, and recount memories of the amazing adventures we had together. I love you Dad.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Toni and Maury Dean on April 26, 2022
We are remembering Rod today amongst many other days throughout the year. He was an amazing brother-in-law and is missed by our whole family. 
Our love to Nina, Keely, Gary, Tyler, Rachel, Mia & Leo on this day of rememberance.
Thinking of you,
Toni and Maury
Posted by Steve Cobb on April 26, 2022
RIP Rod...
Posted by Steve Cobb on October 10, 2021
RIP Rod. Love to the family.
his Life

Promises Broken

Rod always wanted to share.  If he was having ice cream, I really should be eating it, too.  Same with french fries, Oreo cookies, and potato chips.  Is it any wonder that I started gaining weight as soon as we were married?! 

Once he started racing, he wanted to share his thrill of speed, too. And as much as I resisted and refused, he often talked me into taking a 'slow' ride with him around a track just to see what it was like. 

This photo was taken at Putnam Park Raceway in Mount Meridian, Indiana.  It was the scariest slow ride I've ever had.  Do I look like I was enjoying myself?

Another time we went with the Viper Club to the Chrysler Proving Ground in Chelsea, Michigan.  When I heard they were letting everyone drive on the oval track, I asked Rod to let me out of the car. Although he said he would, he never stopped and we were soon on the  lowest oval, following the other cars at a reasonable speed.  Then we somehow ended up on the high banked oval, going so fast the windows were starting to bow out.  I think I wanted to scream but no sound would come.

I was saved when someone on a lower part of the track blew a tire and the session was called to a halt.  Later, Rod admitted to me that we had been driving 185 MPH and he loved it!!!  That was probably the last time I ever rode in 'racing mode' with him.

A Christmas Surprise

Upon graduation from MSU, Rod accepted a job with Raytheon Missile Systems and lived in Lincoln, Massachusetts. When we were married, we moved into a ‘two flat’ in Woburn. It looked like an ordinary large house but inside the front door was a large foyer serving as the entry for two apartments. Ours was on the first floor, a large space with very little in it. We gradually began buying furniture and I really wanted a Boston Rocker. Several weeks before Christmas we started visiting all the furniture stores in the area - there were no rocking chairs of any kind.

December 23 I was home baking when I heard a loud knock on our door. I went to see what was happening and expected to find a rude delivery person. Instead, there was my Boston Rocker with a big red bow! Rod would never tell me how or where he found it since he liked his surprises to be secrets. After more than 53 years of hard use, my rocking chair is still sturdy, strong and I will always treasure it. It’s a reminder of our early days together and how special they were.

Bad day/good day at the track

Everyone seems to know Rod liked fast cars. But he loved driving them fast and on a race track! One such event was an IMSA race at Lime Rock and he entered his orange Corvette #42.

I was with our pit crew watching for Rod to complete each lap. About halfway through the race, he failed to come by when expected and he missed the next two or three laps before I got worried. I started looking for him but sadly what I found was his mangled car.  

Another car had blown an engine. A corner worker neglected to wave his red and yellow striped flag, a warning of oil on the track. Rod hit the patch of oil at full speed, spun out, rolled over a number of times. Thanks to the effectiveness of the car’s roll cage (built by a friend) Rod was uninjured.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is credited with saying ‘you win some, you lose some, you wreck some’. Sure, Rod’s #42 was wrecked that day. But it was rebuilt later in the season and raced as white #41 at his favorite track, Bryar. That day he placed 3rd overall and first in his class in his white #41. 

Recent stories

Poem For The Living

Shared by Nina Harris on May 15, 2021
When I am dead,
Cry for me a little.

Think of me sometimes,
But not too much.

It is not good for you
Or your wife or your husband
Or your children
To allow your thoughts to dwell
Too long on the dead.

Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moment which it is pleasant to recall.

Leave me in peace
As I shall leave you, too, in peace.

While you live,
Let your thoughts be with the living.

This was written by Theodora Kroeber. It's a clipping my mother had saved for many years. I found it when shortly before she died and saved it to be read at her funeral. It seems appropriate on this site, where we are all sharing many pleasant moments we recall from Rod's life.

The Rod Harris that I knew

Shared by Jack Gibson on May 14, 2021
I am Rod’s sister’s husband, Jack.  I first met Rod February of 1976 in Spring Lake, Michigan, where Rod and Annette’sparents lived at that time. It was a weekend and we shared a room and I quickly learned of his love for motor and water sports. 

His love of motor sports was such that he warned me, in a very nice way, if I knew, do not tell him who had won the Indy 500. He would watch it later in the day and please not ruin the day for him by telling him who won the race. I made sure I followed this advice.

Annette and I were fortunate to take customers to the 2005 running of the Indy 500 and Rod told me in no uncertain terms to make sure I brought ear plugs for all to use because the seats were on the start/ finish line and once the 33 cars started their engines you would think you were at an airport listening to jet engines. I passed the ear plugs out to all involved and just as Rod said the noice was deafening and if you did not have them in your ears once they started their engines you did so in about 2 seconds. 

Rod also told me that the seats as good as they were on the start/finish line about 5 rows up were too good. By that he meant we would not see much of the race. In fact after the cars wizzed by you you saw them go into the first turn and then not again for about 45 seconds when they flew by you again. 

One time Rod had one of his race cars in the trailer parked in the driveway of hi parents house in Grand Haven and he told me to come outside so I could hear him start the engine. It was a Sunday morning about 8-9 am and once I heard the roar of the car starting I was glad that many people in the neighborhood were already up and at church. He said the car had a muffler but it did not sound like it to my amateur ears.

On the anniversary of Annette’s 10 year graduation from high school in 1980 he said I could drive his Corvette ( which one this one was I do not remember) and he said that if I passed any Corvettes the guy/ girl I was passing would have one of his hands on the steering wheel and he would wave/ open his fingers on the steering wheel. I thought he was kidding me as I had never heard of such a thing but I will be darned if not every Corvette we passed on both the way to and back home from the reunion did not flash his hand/fingers at me as we passed. I was getting tired of having to do this  exercise as we must have passed about 10 corvettes each way on on the 45-60 minute drive.

So the summer of 1981 and 1982 our family and Rod and Nina’s spent at week at Silver Lake in Michigan. The very first day there as we are unpacking Rod says we are getting up at 6 am tomorrow morning. I thought the first day of vacation and I want to sleep in. Rod would not tell me why he wanted to do this so up I got on Monday morning and it turned out it was to water ski. I had water skied before but never on water that was like skiing on glass. You could clearly see yourself when you were skiing when you looked down at the water. There was not a ripple of a wave on Silver Lake at 6 am. The water was truly like glass and the swissing sound the skis made on the water was unforgettable.  So it was well worth getting up early that day and a few other days where the weather permitted it.

One time Annette was skiing and Rod conveniently deposited her in the water were there was lot of seaweed. There was a twinkle in his eyes when he told me to watch her reaction once she realized where he dropped her into the water. Annette was not amused but it was all in good fun.

Rod was quite a water skier. I never saw him not get up on a slalom ski. Once the boat would start pulling Rod he would disappear under the water and then very quickly he would pop up and onto the one ski. Every time and I saw him do this many times. I never  was able to get up on a slalom ski. On a longer one ski, yes, but not a short slalom ski like he did. Of course he would turn backwards when skiing and go from side to side in a severe turn behind the boat that was pulling him and I hardly ever saw him fall.

Then there were the times Rod and I went running. It was Christmas week in Sterling Heights and we went out for a 6 mile run and it was about -5 degrees with a minus 30-40 wind chill factor. I thought he was kidding but he said let’s do it. When we both finished the run we were both sweating as we were bundled up big time to protect ourselves from the cold. We also ran together for the Jeffers Scenic Run which Rod’s Mom organised for the school where she taught near Spring Lake. 

I had not made the scene yet when Rod was an active race car driver. I have seen pictures of him in various race cars that he drove over the years. I asked him once why  he stopped driving and he said that once Keely was born his racing days were over as racing was taking up all their money and he had a family now. He did race again once Keely and Tyler were out of the house and Annette and I went to the Joliet, Illinois raceway to see him drive in a race. It was very hot that day and he had to wear a suit that was water lined to cool him off from the extreme heat.

One more thing was I know Rod really enjoyed the house in East China on the St. Clair River and seeing the large freighters passing by their back yard on a daily basis. He had books on the various ships and we could quickly go to the book and see when and where the ship was built and how long it was. I found myself doing the same thing every time we visited Rod and Nina at this house.

The thing I remember most about Rod was that he was always upbeat. He always said he was doing great even if you knew he was not. He was always smiling and fun to be around. That is what I will miss most about him.

A Love Affair with Speed

Shared by Keely Denenberg on May 13, 2021
I grew up knowing that when my dad hit the brakes fast and hard for a few seconds then kept driving, looking anxiously in the rear view mirror, often accompanied with "Shit!", he might have gotten caught on radar going just a wee bit too fast. I'd like to pretend that doesn't happen to me, but as recently as a few days after he died, I was that driver looking back in the mirror, wondering if I'd see a siren....After all, it was my dad who taught me how to drive, so is it really my fault?!

When he had the Viper and we would go to the track, I loved the thrill of being his passenger almost as much as I loved driving the track myself. It was instructive to see where & for how long he would brake and then hit the gas in the turns, and he would point out the lines he was taking, so I could improve my times (not that I was ever anywhere near his times, but I could always improve my time after watching him).