Route 66 in the 21st century is an astounding phenomena.

First, officially U.S. 66 no longer exists. That’s right, on June 27, 1985 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials removed this storied old road from the roster of federal highways. Incredibly, the highway is more popular than at any time in its history. There are Route 66 associations in Europe, Japan, Australia, and South America. Companies that offer Route 66 tours operate in five countries.

Even more amazing is how a mere highway transcends barriers of culture and language. The international legion of enthusiasts is truly an extended family with a shared passion for legendary Route 66 and what it has come to represent – an authentic America experience. Consider the legacy of Willem Bor. 

Willem Bor, and his charming wife Monique, had a passion for Route 66, the America represented by that road, and the people that give that highway a sense of infectious enthusiasm and excitement. That passion went beyond the occasional holiday drive along the double six. Along with Dries and Marion, Jeroen and Maggie, Willem and Mirjiam, friends who shared their affection for iconic Route 66, they formed the Route 66 Association of the Netherlands.

Willem was also a very gifted artist and photographer. As a hobby he created incredibly detailed models from photographs taken on he and Monique’s adventures. Most of these were of legendary Route 66 locations and businesses, some of which had to be created from historic photographs and guess work as the actual buildings had vanished from the roadside. Most of his models were in a 1:25 scale but Judy Wallmark asked for his help to finish a diorama of Nelson’s Dream Village that was on display in the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri. Even though it was in 1:100 scale, Willem accepted the challenge and donated the finished project to the museum. A legend was born. In the years that followed he created a number of models. Some were sold to collectors, and others were donated to museums.

Willem Bor at the first European Route 66 Festival.

Last year at the first European Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen, Germany, Willem informed me that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis wasn’t in his favor. In January of this year he succumbed to cancer. Monique shared Willem’s passion for Route 66 and sought to honor his final wish. The completed models, would be shared with the Route 66 community. With assistance from members of the Dutch Route 66 Association, arrangement was made for the models display at various locations along Route 66, customized shipping containers were created, and free shipping was facilitated through DHL.

Kingman has a long association with the Bor’s, and the Dutch Route 66 Association. Dries Bessels, the association chairman, spoke at the conference held during the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman. During the ceremony in which Dries and Marion Bessels were inducted into the now abandoned Route 66 Walk of Fame project, the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona provided honorary membership. In January 2015 when Jim Hinckley spoke about Kingman and Route 66 at a holiday fair in Utrecht, Netherlands, the association hosted a reception at de Prael in Amsterdam. At the first European Route 66 Festival in Germany, Hinckley, on behalf of the City of Kingman, presented Bessels with an invitation to serve as the grand marshal at the Andy Devine Days Parade during the Best of the West on 66 Festival.

Two of Bor’s stunning models will be on display in the Kingman area. The model of Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner was presented today to Scott Dunton, the owner of that classic restaurant and the president of the Route 66 Association of Kingman. The association and Mr. D’z are Promote Kingman partners. Dunton will display the model at the 1946 Dunton Motors dealership facility that also houses the offices for the Kingman Route 66 association. In a custom made glass display case, the model will rest atop a vintage Coke machine adorned with Mr. D’z signage. The back drop will be a display of historic photos of Mr. D’z dating to 1940, and an honorarium for Willem Bor created by Promote Kingman.

The second model is of the Twin Arrows Trading Post that was located along Route 66 east of Winona, Arizona. This model will be displayed at the Antares Point Route 66 Visitor Center, famous for Giganticus Headicus.

Route 66 is more than a mere highway, it is a family, a very extended family. Promote Kingman is honored to count among its partners the Route 66 Association of the Netherlands. To Monique Bor and members of the Route 66 Association of the Netherlands, thank you. Thank you for the gift. Thank you for the friendship and support. Thank you for the generosity and for keeping the magic of Route 66 alive.