Laurel Kane, co-owner of Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma, will be inducted into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame posthumously later this year, it was learned Saturday during a celebration of her life.
A panel from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association selects two winners — one living and one deceased — from a list of nominations every two years. The awards ceremony will be held 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton.
Kane’s family members and friends organized the event shortly after her death in January at age 69. I counted 75 people Saturday in the Afton Station room that displays the Packard car and memorabilia collection owned by her former husband, David Kane, and still more people were arriving.
The event included a free catered lunch for those who attended.
David Kane also announced Afton Station would continue to be a Route 66 visitors center as feasibly possible — much the same as Laurel ran it for almost 15 years. He said, however, an admission fee of probably $5 would be charged, and more souvenirs would be offered for sale to generate revenue so he can pay the people who will run the shop.
David and Laurel Kane of Connecticut bought the former D-X gas station, built during the 1930s, in 1998 and spent two years restoring it. Laurel Kane moved to Oklahoma permanently in 2002 and met Route 66 tourists at Afton Station several times a week, except for a couple of slow winter months.
Laurel Kane also amassed a huge collection of postcards from Route 66 over the years. She also was a prolific writer — as longtime readers of her Ramblings of a Route 66 Business Owner blog will attest. But her daughter, Sarah, read two essays Laurel wrote, including a funny bit of reminiscing about drive-in movie theaters and a more poignant one where Laurel led a program that ultimately led to improved U.S.-Soviet relations during the Cold War.
Several people passed along stories about Laurel’s sense of humor and her upbeat attitude. She never felt compelled to brag about herself and probably would have been a little embarrassed over all the fuss about her during Saturday’s event. But there also is little doubt she would have enjoyed it, too.