Route 66 SGF News Releases

Posted on: August 12, 2016

Festival’s John T. Woodruff Award to be presented Saturday



On behalf of the 2016 Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, David Eslick will present two John T. Woodruff Awards at noon, Saturday Aug. 13 at Park Central Square to St. Louis Street Steak ‘n Shake owner Gary Leonard and West Central Neighborhood Alliance’s Shirley Robbins.

The award, named for the Springfield businessman who is considered one of the fathers of Route 66 and was the first president of the U.S. Route 66 Association, recognizes supporters and promoters of Historic Route 66.

Steak ’n Shake, which opened in 1962, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The restaurant is a frequent stop on trips down Historic Route 66.

“When my dad bought the St. Louis Street Steak ‘n Shake store, I was 14 years old,” Leonard says. “He put an apron on me, and I have been helping Route 66 visitors have a unique experience in an original 1960s café ever since.”

Leonard is an active member of the Springfield business community. He and his wife Bridgette have one daughter, Sophia. Leonard added that he enjoys interacting with people from all over the world on their trips down the Mother Road.

Robbins, a former treasurer for WCNA, has registered more than 1,100 classic cars for festival car show participants since 2014.

“Shirley has done an outstanding job with a task that has grown larger each year,” Eslick said. “The festival would not be as successful as it is today without Shirley’s strong commitment.”

Previous Woodruff Award recipients are Susan Croce Kelly, Tommy and Glenda Pike and Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven owner Gordon Elliott.

Eslick, a Route 66 preservationist, photographer and a founder of the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival, also serves on the Route 66 Association of Missouri’s board of directors.


For more information, please contact David Eslick at 417-350-5708 or

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