Longtime Kansas Route 66 advocate Carolyn Pendleton dies

Carolyn Pendleton, a longtime advocate for the 13 miles of Route 66 in Kansas, died last week after being in declining health. She was 80.

Pendleton was director of the Route 66 Visitor Center in Baxter Springs, housed in a former Phillips 66 gas station that was renovated about 15 years ago.

In 2009, Pendleton accepted a Cyrus Avery Preservation of the Year Award during the Will Rogers Awards Banquet on behalf of the visitors center.

She also was an officer with the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Renee Charles, one of the founders of 4 Women on the Route (now Cars on the Route) in Galena, described her as “a friend of everyone on Kansas Route 66” and had this to say about her:

She worked so hard on promoting, preserving and bringing in people to help with that cause. She was the wisdom and drive behind my love of the Mother Road when we first started 4 Women on the Route, and she is one of the reasons I am still President of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association. Love and Prayers to Mike and Family.

Way back in 2000, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune caught up with Pendleton when she was with the Baxter Springs Chamber. She said:

“We’d like to see the downtown go back to what it once looked like. We’ve saved some things–but I’m not sure Route 66 brings anything to our town but tourists. And that’s fine.”

Pendleton was cremated, but I’ve been told by those close to the family that a celebration of life will be held at a later date.

UPDATE: A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. March 25 at First Presbyterian Church in Baxter Springs, with family receiving friends at 1 p.m. Her cremains will be interred in Baxter Springs Cemetery.

(Image of Carolyn Pendleton in 2013 via Facebook)

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