Grandson of Cyrus “Father of Route 66” Avery dies at 85

Cyrus Stevens Avery II, grandson of Cyrus “Father of Route 66” Avery and a supporter in the ongoing quest to build the Route 66 Experience museum complex in Tulsa, died Tuesday. He was 85.

Ken Busby, executive director and CEO for the Route 66 Alliance in Tulsa, posted this message on Facebook on Wednesday:

We lost another intrepid soul yesterday. … Cyrus Avery (Cyrus Stevens Avery II), the grandson of the Father of Route 66, passed away at his home. He was 85 years young!! I had the good fortune of working directly with Stevens, as he was called, for the past three years as Stevens, Michael Wallis, and I have been securing funds to build the Route 66 Experience near the plaza that bears his illustrious grandfather’s name. Our work continues in honor, and now in memory, of a man who was devoted to all things Route 66 – the Main Street of America! Godspeed, my friend. …

Fundraising for the Route 66 Experience is ongoing. The Route 66 Experience will contain interactive exhibits, a restaurant and a retail shop within its 42,000 square feet along the Arkansas River. It’s tentatively scheduled to be finished in 2019.

Busby said Rose Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park, which is along the original Admiral Place alignment along Route 66 in Tulsa, is handling arrangements. Rose Hill Memorial Park also is where his grandfather is buried.

No obituary had been published in the local newspaper or on the funeral home’s website, but Busby said services will be at Rose Hill at 10 a.m. Friday, with an informal luncheon at noon Friday at the Tulsa Garden Center Tulsa Historical Society.

Avery’s grandfather, Cyrus Stevens Avery, became known as the “Father of Route 66” because in 1926 he recommended the number 66 for the federal highway from Chicago to Los Angeles. A longtime booster during the Good Roads Movement in the early part of the 20th century, the elder Avery also pushed for the establishment of the U.S. Highway 66 Association to pave and promote the highway.

The younger Avery were there in 2008 when the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Centennial Plaza in Tulsa was dedicated in 2008. At the time, Avery said when his grandfather first came to Tulsa in 1904, “the town was without lights and pigs ran through the streets.”

He also said his grandfather’s motto was: “Live with ants in your pants; be curious and look around you.”

In 2015, when the Route 66 Alliance announced a merger with the National Historic Route 66 Federation and re-established the U.S. 66 Highway Association, Avery talked about the partnership to the Tulsa World newspaper:

I’ll post more obituary information as soon as I get it.

UPDATE: Route 66 Alliance chairman Michael Wallis forwarded the text to the official obituary that will run in tomorrow’s Tulsa World:

Cyrus Stevens Avery II, 85, passed away February 13, 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Cyrus was born October 19, 1932 in Tulsa to parents Gordon Stevens Avery and Phoebe Jane Heffner Avery. Cyrus had the distinction of being born the grandson of Cyrus Stevens Avery, the “Father of Route 66”. He held up his heritage proudly accomplishing many of his own aspirations.

Cyrus attended and graduated Will Rogers High School class of ’50 and was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He proudly graduated class of ’54 and went on to serve as an Army Aviator, while in active duty until 1960. He continued serving our country in the Army Reserve until 1968. While serving in the Reserves, Cyrus also attended Harvard Business School from 1960-62 and received his MBA.

Upon graduation, Cyrus accepted a position as a stockbroker with Ferris and Company, Inc in Washington, DC in 1962 subsequently becoming Partner and Branch Manager. Cyrus achieved the position of sr. vice president and director before parting ways in 1974 when he joined International Bank as Assistant to the President.

In 1981, Cyrus founded Westfinance Corporation specializing in commercial real estate and venture capital. He also served as director and chief financial officer of several start up companies. For the past several years, he dedicated his time to his true passion- working as a Chief Financial Officer for The Route 66 Alliance and was instrumental in attracting key players to the team.

Cyrus also proudly served on the Executive Committee of the Avery Memorial Association in Groton, Connecticut from 2006-2010 and again from 2017 until his passing. He also served as its vice president from 2011-2016 and chaired various committees during his tenure on the board. Cyrus was a member of the City Tavern Club in Washington, DC, a historical landmark in Georgetown where President George Washington held meetings.

Cyrus Stevens Avery II certainly left his mark on the world and left it a much better place. He was an ambitious and passionate man, born into a respected and honorable heritage. He was also a loving husband and adored father.

He will be missed by all those who loved him.

Survived by his wife of 62 years, Ella Jane Wolverton Avery of Tulsa, Oklahoma; son Cyrus Stevens Avery III (wife Aimee Reinhart Avery) of Sierra Vista, Arizona; daughter Allyson Anne Avery (husband Francis Douglas Hartnett) of Bethesda, Maryland.

(Image of Cyrus Stevens Avery II courtesy of Ken Busby)

One thought on “Grandson of Cyrus “Father of Route 66” Avery dies at 85

  1. Stevens was a truly wonderful person and a real gentleman. He was incredibly helpful and supportive during the years when I was researching and writing my book about his grandfather, and was a key player in the push to raise funds for the Route 66 Experience. He will be missed.

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