Melvena Heish and the late Laurel Kane were inducted Saturday into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma.
The ceremony also celebrated the 90th anniversary of Route 66 and marked two new exhibits at the museum — one about folk art and another of photographs of well-known past and present landmarks on the Mother Road.
Heisch, deputy state historic preservation officer for the Oklahoma Historical Society, long has championed Route 66 in the Sooner State, including a time early in the road’s eventual renaissance when it seemed a lonely job indeed. The Oklahoma native this year is marking her 40th anniversary with the State Historic Preservation Office.
An item of note is Heisch was severely injured during the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. But shortly after her release from the hospital, she used her knowledge to help repair or preserve dozens of historic buildings damaged by the explosion.
Kane, was co-owner of the Route 66 landmark Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma. 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.
Michael Wallis, author of “Route 66: The Mother Road” and co-founder of the Route 66 Alliance, emceed the ceremony for the standing-room only crowd, He and Ken Busby, executive director of the Alliance, gave a few words about the Route 66 Experience in Tulsa. They expect to break ground on it in spring 2017.
(Hat tip to Michael Wallis; image of Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton by JymPoiranges; image of Melvena Heisch via the National Conference of Historic Preservation Officers; image of Laurel Kane via Facebook)