Former Corvette Museum director to be inducted into 2020 Corvette Hall of Fame
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The National Corvette Museum’s Skydome is most famous as the part of the building where a giant sinkhole opened up and swallowed eight cars more than five years ago.
But this part of the museum also displays the 74 individuals who have been immortalized in the Corvette Hall of Fame for their work with one of the most famous cars in America.
“They’re either an enthusiast, they work for GM or they’re part of the Corvette racing history,” said Sean Preston, president and CEO of the National Corvette Museum. “This museum is all about the preservation of the Corvette, where it is currently and what the future holds for Corvette.”
By this time next year, a new individual’s picture will be added to the hall of fame – former National Corvette Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode.
“His enthusiasm for what GM has done for us as a museum absolutely puts him in the Hall of Fame without a doubt,” added Preston.
The announcement was made during the 2019 class’s induction ceremony by National Corvette Museum Board Chairman Lon Helton, to which Strode received a standing ovation by all in attendance, including this year’s inductees.
“Very much a surprise to me, very humbling,” said Strode. “At first I really didn’t know what to say, or not what to say but how to react.”
Strode, a former banker, was a key cog that got the gears turning for the museum’s success, helping it work through financial issues to stay afloat for generations of Corvette fans to enjoy.
“This was my job, but never had any idea that this was something that would happen,” Strode added.
After 23 years of service to the museum, Strode’s work with facility will come to an end in January as he transitions out of his role as executive director.
During this phase, he’s still been present, but Strode’s spent time helping Preston adjust to his new role as president and handing over the keys to the museum’s newest leader.
“He has shared much wisdom,” said Preston. “He has shared all of his contacts and his friends and museum supporters, introduced me to so many people.”
The people Strode met were always his favorite part about being executive director.
He said his proudest moment was aiding in the growth of the museum staff, overseeing a rise in both full-time and part-time jobs.
“Today we’re about 60 full-time employees and about 70, 75 part-time employees,” said Strode.
He considers the employees family, family who made his experience at the National Corvette Museum something he’ll always cherish and never forget.
“To me, working at the museum has been like attending a [family] reunion every day,” Strode said with a smile across his face.
His friendly smile and warm personality will be missed by everyone at the museum, but his legacy and the impact he made on the museum will never be forgotten.
“I think the Hall of Fame would be incomplete without Wendell,” said Preston.
Strode, along with the other inductees who have yet to be announced, will be inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame during a special ceremony and banquet at the museum on Sept. 4, 2020.