We just got word this evening that Fran Eickhoff, former owner of the late, great Route 66 Lounge in Cuba, Mo. — sometimes referred to as “the Cheers of the Mother Road” — passed away this afternoon.
Fran was a charter member of Friends of the Mother Road and a longtime supporter of the Missouri Route 66 Association. She had been battling health problems for several years, but I never once knew her to sit around feeling sorry for herself. That wouldn’t have been any fun — and Fran was a LOT of fun, whether she was cruising 66 with her friends, manning an information booth for the Missouri Route 66 Association, or telling some of the stories she’d accumulated over the course of more than two decades behind the bar at the Route 66 Lounge.
The last time we had a chance to visit with Fran was at the Route 66 festival this summer in Litchfield. She was wearing a bucket-style hat to cover up the hair loss that had come with her recent chemotherapy treatments. When I asked her to pose for the picture above, she gave me a grin, and with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, she took off her hat, revealing a mohawk hairdo. She told me it had been suggested that she ought to dye her hair black and paint a yellow stripe down the middle, in honor of her favorite road, and she joked that she was thinking about doing just that. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if she had. Nothing got the best of Fran — not even a scary disease.
We’re told she slipped away painlessly as she slept — unflappable to the end. She will be dearly missed by all of us who were blessed with her friendship.