Former Lord Mayor of Coventry Cllr Gary Crookes has passed away suddenly.
Gary, a Conservative councillor for Wainbody Ward, had served the people of Coventry since 1995.
For nearly a quarter of a century, he played a leading role in several areas, including the Business, Economy and Enterprise Scrutiny Board and as Shadow Cabinet Member for Education and Jobs and Regeneration.
He also served on the Licensing and Planning committees, as well as helping several charities and organisations, including the Coventry General Charities Trustees and the Sir Charles Barratt Memorial Foundation.
Gary was immensely proud to serve as Lord Mayor of his adopted city in 2013 and it was a role he carried out with distinction.
Gary was raised in Warrington but moved to Coventry in 1973 having met his Coventry-born wife, Shirley, when they both studied at the University College of North Wales, in Bangor.
He became a field engineer for Plessey Telecommunications and made Coventry his home.
He was a devoted father and grandfather.
Councillor Gary Ridley, Leader of the Coventry Conservatives Group, is one of many to express shock at the sudden death of a friend and colleague.
He said: “I am truly devastated by this incredibly sad news and I know that I speak for so many people who knew Gary when I say that.
“He was a dedicated and hard-working councillor who loved Coventry and was committed to helping our city.
“He will be sadly missed and on behalf of the Conservative group, our condolences go out to his family, friends and constituents as many of them knew him really well.”
Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, added: “This is terribly sad news for Coventry and all of our thoughts are with Gary’s wife Shirley and his family.
“I’ve known Gary since he became a councillor and when I was cabinet member for education, he was the shadow member and proved himself to be a very knowledgeable and constructive councillor who was extremely passionate about education.
“He went onto become a first-class Lord Mayor and did the city proud. Gary was unique and a real character and I know he will be sorely missed by everyone at Coventry City Council.”
As a mark of respect, the civic flag at Coventry City Council is flying at half-mast today.