Kingman hopes you'll get your bricks on Route 66
Hall of Fame, memorial walk planned
KINGMAN - The International Route 66 Festival in August will embrace the future and celebrate the present, but it will also honor the past with the dedication of the Route 66 Walk of Fame.
According to the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce, the Walk of Fame will honor people who helped transform Route 66 from a mere highway to an iconic strip of asphalt famous the world over.
The nominees are: Andy Devine, Michael Wallis, Angel Delgadillo, Bob Boze Bell, David and Mary Lou Knudson, John and Lenore Weiss, Dr. John Lingenfelter, and Bob Waldmire.
Hualapai Chief Leve Leve and Lt. Edward F. Beale will also be honored for their contributions in the highway's founding.
Kingman resident and prolific Route 66 chronicler Jim Hinckley said the history of the Mother Road is important, and the people the Walk of Fame will honor played integral roles in promoting the highway.
"The Walk of Fame will bridge a lot of gaps," he said. "People aren't familiar with the names of some of these folks, but they have made great contributions to getting Route 66 recognized and accepted.
They were instrumental in the highway's renaissance. The theme of the festival is fitting because Kingman really is the crossroads of the past and future."
And the nominees are:
Andy Devine is likely the only honoree who also has a star on another Walk of Fame - this one in Hollywood, Calif.
The longtime actor reportedly found his unique, raspy voice by accident. Devine, who moved to Kingman with his family when he was 1, died of leukemia in 1977 at the age of 71. Shortly afterward, city leaders renamed the section of Route 66 that lies within city limits Andy Devine Avenue.
Michael Wallis is a best-selling author and award-winning reporter who has penned many books on the American West, including "Route 66: The Mother Road," which has been credited with bringing renewed interest to the highway.
Angel Delgadillo was a barber by trade, but the Seligman native cut his teeth on Route 66. After construction of Interstate 40 left Seligman no more than a gas stop for motorists, he helped found the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.
More important, Delgadillo was instrumental in convincing the Legislature to designate Route 66 a historic highway in the state, and preservation efforts began. Associations in California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois were formed after Arizona took the lead.
He is considered the guardian angel of the highway.
David and Mary Lou Knudson founded the National Historic Route 66 Federation, which is somewhat of a misnomer because it is credited with branding the highway on a global scale - and they produced the festival that occurs in a different community along the route each August.
David Knudson first drove Route 66 from Chicago to California. Fresh out of college and without the funds, Knudson couldn't afford to take in all that Route 66 offered back then.
Fast forward to 1994. Knudson and his wife, Mary Lou, decided to drive the highway from Chicago to California, but they couldn't find it. Interstates came through and businesses and towns that once thrived fell by the wayside.
They sold the family business and applied all their energy to preserving the Mother Road.
John and Lenore Weiss started the Route 66 Preservation Committee of Illinois in 1994 and for the next 15 years they accomplished much of what they set out to do.
Lenore died of cancer in 2010.
"I have continued with our preservation work as she would have wanted me to," John Weiss told the Miner.
"Route 66 is a true linear community," he said. "It takes folks from all eight states working together to create the magic that we call the Mother Road."
Dr. John Lingenfelter was one of the city's great philanthropists who provided time and treasure to a number of worthwhile causes. He was big on Kingman and his sense of giving back knew no bounds.
Bob Boze Bell is a Kingman native, illustrator and humorist who wrote "The 66 Kid, Raised on the Mother Road." He will sign copies of the book at the festival.
Bob Waldmire was an artist who earned the John Steinbeck Award for his Route 66 preservation efforts.
His ashes are spread at his parents' gravesites and at various locations along Route 66, including at Hackberry, where he lived for a time.
Miner reporter Kim Steele contributed to this report.