by Patrice Johnson and Sophia Adams
Gov. Rick Snyder made it official December 5 when he signed Senate Bill 509 into law at the Romney Building in Lansing, Michigan: A portion of State Highway M-52 in Stockbridge will be renamed as the “Deputy Grant Whitaker Memorial Highway” in the fallen deputy’s honor.
Grant Whitaker’s parents, Clyde and Mary Whitaker, were among family and friends who gathered for the signing event, hosted by Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing). “It has been a long, sad journey for our family,” Clyde Whitaker said, “the law enforcement community, our home town of Stockbridge and all the wonderful people in it, wishing us the best always.”
Clyde Whitaker said the idea of naming a road in honor of his son started with Sen. Hertel asking if he and wife Mary Whitaker would be receptive to the idea. “We thought it would be an excellent way to honor Grant,” Clyde Whitaker said. “We are grateful beyond words for all that Senator Hertel and Kathleen Farhat have done to honor our son and our family. It will never be forgotten.”
Clyde and Mary Whitaker’s oldest grandson, Henry James Whitaker (4), stood at the right elbow of the governor as he signed the bill. “Governor Snyder then gave the pen he used to sign the bill to Henry as a memento,” Clyde Whitaker said. “He’s left-handed like the governor.”
“It was such a special, meaningful day,” Sen. Hertel commented afterward. “It was a privilege to have Deputy Whitaker’s family here to watch the bill be signed, and it’s particularly fitting not just as a remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice he paid, but also because this Thursday will mark the third anniversary of his passing.”
The portion of Highway M-52 from the intersection of M-106 to the intersection of M-36 will be renamed after Deputy Whitaker, who died in the line of duty on Dec. 7, 2014, during pursuit of a fleeing driver who had attempted to elude a traffic stop. His patrol car left the roadway and struck a tree during the chase, causing him to suffer fatal injuries. The driver of the fleeing vehicle was arrested several days later, convicted of eluding police and driving on a suspended license, and sentenced to prison.
“This memorial highway will always honor our son, Grant,” Clyde Whitaker said, “and we will always be grateful for that.”