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Mayor proclaims Sunday 'Rickey Penton Day,' celebrating Grand Rapids LGBTQ Community leader

Penton died earlier this year. Friends and family celebrated with a jazz memorial brunch Sunday.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sunday was a special celebration for a special man. Family and friends gathered at the Apartment Lounge in Grand Rapids for a memorial jazz brunch celebrating Rickey Penton. 

Penton passed away earlier this year, and due to COVID-19 restrictions, the memorial was delayed.

Penton was a leader in the Grand Rapids LGBTQ community and the co-founder of Rumors Nightclub. 

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalyn Bliss proclaimed Sept. 27 as "Rickey Penton Day" in his honor. 

Credit: 13 OYS
The memorial for Penton was held outside the Apartment Lounge on Sheldon Ave.

"He's just one of those people who encouraged you, and made you feel good, and gave something back," said Bobby J, Penton's friend and owner of the Apartment Lounge. "He touched so many people's lives. So, this is a chance to say thank you, not goodbye, but here's to the future."

The memorial brunch was held outdoors, with COVID-19 restrictions. Due to that, space was limited, but so many people wanted to pay respects to Penton that there was a wait list for a table. Those who knew him said he always made everyone feel included. 

The brunch concluded with a round of singing "We are Family." The brunch was sponsored by Grand GR.

Credit: 13 OYS
Bobby J, a long-time friend, married Penton and his husband.

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