A well-known and -loved motel operator on Route 66 has passed away.
One of the most iconic motels on all of Route 66 is the Munger Moss, in Lebanon, MO. It’s been in business since 1946. In 1971, Bob and Ramona Lehman bought and operated it. Bob died several years ago, and Ramona kept it going on her own.
When we arrived to check into our room, Ramona was waiting for us at the desk. She was tickled that I was showing my sons the Mother Road. “It’s just wonderful that you’re introducing the road to the next generation!” She then upgraded us to Room 66, which was loaded with art related to the route.
Some of my roadfan friends who have made many Route 66 tours had become close to Ramona over the years. If they didn’t stay the night on their way through, they at least stopped to say hello. My Facebook feed has been full yesterday and today of photos from these visits, including some with Ramona holding babies who are now nearly grown.
Meeting people like Ramona is the greatest joy of traveling Route 66. Sure, driving the old alignments and seeing historic road infrastructure is interesting (for a roadfan like me). But unlike any other road I’ve toured, Route 66 is alive with personality because people like Ramona are on it, providing good services to travelers.
Ramona sold the Munger Moss earlier this year, or tried to. Her health had been in decline and she just couldn’t keep it going alone anymore. There was a confirmed deal, but it apparently fell through.
Ramona died yesterday from complications related to her declining health, exacerbated by an automobile accident last week. She was 85.
I’ve often said that now is the time to get out and photograph what you see, as things change. Similarly, now is the time to get out on Route 66, if ever you had an itch to, so you don’t miss out on the lovely people who live and work on the route.