Duarte Historical Museum Dedicates New Route 66 Room in Honor of Alan and Claudia Heller

The Duarte Historical Museum in Duarte, California, has dedicated a new Route 66 Room in honor of Alan and Claudia Heller. The dedication ceremony took place on Sunday, June 30, and was attended by approximately 100 people. The room showcases items from the collections of Alan Heller, Jim Kirchner, and Richard Amadori, with about 90% of the items being original pieces from businesses that once thrived along the historic Route 66.

Alan Heller, along with his late wife Claudia Heller, explored Route 66 extensively throughout their lives. Claudia Heller, a longtime columnist for the Southern California News Group and a historian, passed away on December 11, 2019, at the age of 79. The new Route 66 Room is a tribute to the Hellers’ commitment and dedication to the Duarte Historical Society and their passion for all things related to Route 66.

Liz Reilly, the current president of the historical society, praised the Hellers’ contributions and their ability to share their adventures with others through their words, photos, and talks. The new room is part of recent upgrades to the museum, which also include a new floor, lighting, and paint.

The dedication ceremony was attended by friends and supporters of the Hellers, including Jim and Kathy Kirchner, who have been close friends with the Hellers for 38 years. The Kirchners described the Hellers as avid travelers and credited them with inspiring others to appreciate the hidden gems along Route 66.

Duarte Mayor Vinh Truong acknowledged the Hellers’ role as gatekeepers of Route 66 and their involvement in getting a landmark Route 66 sign placed in the city. Councilmember Margaret Finley expressed the significance of Route 66 to the community, as it symbolizes the settlement of Duarte and the pursuit of a better life for families.

Jenner Heller, the son of Alan and Claudia Heller, expressed gratitude for his parents’ dedication to adventuring and their love for Route 66. He believes that his mother’s spirit lives on in the museum building and along the iconic highway.

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