Route 66 in the News

A Lady of the Route Passes

2010-02-24 21:13:46

BRAIDWOOD, Ill. - If the Mother Road had a mom, it would be Lenore Weiss.

"She was the first lady of Route 66," said Rebecca Barker, spokeswoman for the Joliet Visitors Center. "Those entire Route 66 corridor signs downtown and roadside attraction signs are there because of Lenore and John Weiss."

Lenore fought a two-year battle with cancer before her road ended early Monday morning.

Her hard work as a Route 66 preservationist can be seen at the Route 66 Visitors Center at the Joliet Area Historical Society Museum and the renovation of Broadway Park.

"Working with Lenore was always a positive experience," Barker said.

"She and John worked as consultants when we were working to get the tourism grants," Barker said. "They had a wealth of knowledge of the area."

Her passion for preservation is apparent in the three books she wrote with John: "Traveling the New Historic Route 66 of Illinois," "As the Story Goes" and their most recent endeavor, "Traveling the Historic Three," where they expanded their road trip stories to include Lincoln and Dixie highways.

There are many Web sites with photos of Lenore's adventures on the Mother Road. She can be seen posing for pictures with then-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Cindy Williams of "Laverne and Shirley" and Paul Peterson of "Donna Reed" and more. She was the first woman to ever receive the John Steinbeck Award for preservation and was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame with her husband.

Their work locally includes the preservation of the Route 66 diner car behind the Riviera Restaurant and the two-cell jail in Gardner. She was instrumental in promoting the Annual Red Carpet Corridor Tour now in its fourth year. The road tour takes visitors through many towns on the Historic Route 66 in Illinois.

"The world is definitely a better place because of Lenore," said Kathleen Miller of Tinley Park. "She let me in to take her last journey as her illness took over her life."

Miller met Lenore through the Route 66 Association more than 10 years ago.

"She fought her way through tremendous pain, but never complained."

What most folks do not know is that the work John and Lenore did for Route 66 was just their hobby.

"Their real work was training dogs," said Dorothy McMullen of Milwaukee.

Lenore and John once owned the Weiss Rojan School of Dog Obedience and the Weiss Animal Resort and Hospital in Frankfort.

Lenore lost her mother, Louise Libersher, in September 2009; her father, Edward Libersher, in 1981 and her son, Jason Ramsey in 1995.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Thursday and 9-10:30 a.m. Friday at the R.W. Patterson Funeral home in Braidwood.

Funeral services will follow at St. Rose Catholic Church in Wilmington with burial at the Maplewood Cemetery in New Lenox.

In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to the Hospice of Kankakee Valley and the Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation of Barrington.

~Kim Smith,


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