By Jan Lawrence
Learning the background of “Weavervillians” has always been interesting. A recent interview with a local star did not disappoint. This local hero is none other than the mayor of this town, Allan “Al” Root.
He along with his wife, Louise, and son, Michael, arrived in town in 1991 after a brief sojourn in Asheville. A controversy, at the time, involved the golf course and interested the two attorneys (Al and Louise) who met in Brooklyn, NY as assistant district attorneys.
Al was the youngest of six children born near Chesapeake, Virginia. The only girl in the family did not survive infancy. The family moved to rural Virginia when Al was a young child. The area was called Great Bridge and was connected to the eastern coastal areas by rural roads. The move necessitated a long commute for his father who worked in the defense industry near Norfolk, but provided a somewhat idyllic setting for raising five boys.
Outside influences were all but absent. The family home was built on land reclaimed from nature. A trip back several years ago revealed nature had reclaimed the land with a tree growing through the area near the front door. Al’s family was involved in the constant balance between living there and working the land. Al said the boys all were involved in target shooting as opposed to hunting, wandering through the woods and working the property.
Saturdays were a part of the parents’ strong academic push. The whole family played a game called “Ask Me Another.” Although these games took place in the 1950s, they were played with a quiz book from 1934. Al, the youngest, was the designated “asker of questions.”
The Saturdays proved successful with the five boys. Brother Joe went to West Point and became a patent attorney. Bob, after a tour in Vietnam entered the world of computers. Tom worked for years in corporate advertising with Visa. Mike has a Ph.D. in Theology. Al watched “Perry Mason” and decided law was his chosen profession at an early age; he went to Dartmouth and UVA Law School.
Al has always been interested in public service, so when he received a call in 1997 asking him to fill an eight-month vacancy on the Weaverville Town Council, it just seemed logical. He served from January 1997 to February 2007. Al stated he “felt fortunate to have a public service” job. He served as mayor from 2009 to 2013 and was elected to a second four-year term in 2017.
He observed the Great Bridge area where he grew up suffering from a serious land rush when it went from rural to urban, being described by his wife as “like New Jersey.” The once one-hour commute changed to a 15-minute ride on an interstate. The nature of the entire area changed drastically and left Al with an interest in urban planning. His wish for the town is “grow slowly.” As mayor, he is tasked with setting the agendas. He talked about the excellent town staff and seemed proud of the diverse group with whom he works.
Al is semi-retired from the practice of law and enjoys reading non-fiction books. He likes jazz and listening to his son, who is earning a doctorate in “Classical Guitar.” His favorite trip was to Paris with Louise and he enjoys steak, fried chicken and coconut custard pie. Make a point of getting to know Al. He’s a delight and our mayor. We are very fortunate to have him.