Fran Eickhoff's plaque is a permanent reminder of a fine lady with a love of Route 66 and her community.
In the latest Show Me Route 66 Magazine, there were tributes to Fran Eickhoff of Cuba, Missouri who passed away August 7, 2008. In comments by Tonya Pike of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, she said “Before Fran made Route 66 a known item in Cuba, there were no murals, no bakery, no Missouri Hick BBQ, no chocolate. Much of what we all now love & enjoy about Cuba, came about because Fran worked hard to make everyone in Cuba knowledgeable and proud of their Route 66 heritage.”
It is true that Fran was a warm and friendly person who worked tirelessly for Cuba and Route 66. Below is a news release about Fran and the recognition of her memory that took place April 25, 2009 in Cuba.
Fanning, MO Members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, family, and friends met on Saturday, May 25 at The Outpost General Store to recognize member Fran Eickhoff ‘s decades of dedication to Route 66 since becoming a charter member in 1990. Frances “Fran” Eickhoff, of Cuba, MO, passed away August 7, 2008 after a battle with cancer.
For many years Fran ran The Route 66 Lounge and greeted Route 66 travelers with her warm smile. She would go on to become an “activist” for preserving and promoting the Mother Road. She made friends not only in Missouri but also all along the road from Chicago to California as she attended Route 66 meetings and festivals. Even when facing the end of her life, one of Fran’s last trips was to the Litchfield, Illinois Route 66 Festival in June 2008 where she was able to visit with some of her Route 66 friends for the last time.
The group that assembled at The Outpost spoke of Fran’s passion for Route 66 and her love of the “roadie” life while pursuing her Route 66 projects.
Local tourism board president Norman DeLeo spoke of Fran’s involvement with the association and how she was a booster for the Cuba, MO community and Route 66. Because of that dedication to the community, the tourism board commissioned a plaque to recognize Fran. The Outpost’s owners Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro were happy to allow the plaque to be placed on their Route 66 store.
During the ceremony, Missouri Route 66 Association president Tommy Pike spoke of how Fran loved Route 66 and of her work with the Association at many events during the years. She was responsible for promoting Cuba’s Route 66 heritage and encouraging all Cuba’s businesses to become members of the Missouri Association.
Membership Services Director Bob Gehl also spoke of his friendship with Fran and how she was responsible for photographing Route 66 bridges in Missouri, designing a t-shirt with the images, and selling the resulting T-shirt. He reminisced about working on many projects with Fran.
To recognize Fran in her own community, Gehl, with her family’s permission, presented Betty DeLeo, president of the Crawford County History Museum in Cuba, with an award that Fran received during her last year that recognized her decades long work for the Missouri Association. He also presented DeLeo with one of the Association’s bridge t-shirts that Fran created. The memorabilia will become part of a museum display recognizing Fran and her work on Route 66.
Jane Dippel, Preservation Committee Chairperson, presented Dan Sanazaro, Outpost owner, with a check and certificate recognizing his preservation of the Route 66 community building in Fanning by renovating the building for his store and building on site what has become known as the “Guinness World Record Largest Rocking Chair.” The presentation recognizing one of “her” Route 66 locations would have made Fran proud.
Sanazaro tried to donate the check back to the Association but was instead encouraged to use it to further improve the site. Sanazaro indicated that he was to receive an original Route 66 sign and that he would use the check for that.
After a time of remembrance and recognition, the group adjourned to reminisce about Fran and enjoy their time at The Outpost. The road lost a good friend with the passing of Fran Eickhoff, but one spot has a lasting remembrance of one of the road’s finest ladies.