Robert "Bob" Waldmire (April 19, 1945–December 16, 2009) was an American artist and cartographer who is well known for his artwork of U.S. Route 66, including whimsical maps of the Mother Road and its human and natural ecology. Being the son of Ed Waldmire Jr., he is often associated with the Cozy Dog Drive In restaurant in Springfield, Illinois (on U.S. Route 66), the elder Waldmire (along with his friend Don Strand) created the Cozy Dog.
His career as a professional artist began during his student days at Southern Illinois University. He returned home to draft a "bird's-eye-view" poster of his hometown; merchants paid to include their businesses in the posters, which he could then sell in the merchant's place of business at a profit. He extended the idea to 34 cities, then turned his attentions to the promotion of historic U.S. Route 66.
Waldmire was a well-known snowbird, spending his winter months in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains in a self-sufficient home of his own design. During the summer, he travelled the country, but based himself in his native Central Illinois, living in a converted Chevrolet school bus near Springfield.
U.S. Route 66
In 1992, Bob Waldmire re-opened the Hackberry General Store in the ghost town of Hackberry, Arizona as a Route 66 tourism information post and souvenir shop. The 1934 store, originally the Northside Grocery and Conoco station, had been closed and vacant since 1978 after Interstate 40 in Arizona bypassed the town (on 66) and left it stranded fifteen miles away from the very different route taken by I-40.
Waldmire sold the store to John and Kerry Pritchard in 1998 due to local disputes regarding the environmental and aesthetic impact of quarries removing local stone for use in landscaping.
In 2004, Bob Waldmire earned the National Historic Route 66 Federation's John Steinbeck Award for his contributions to the preservation of Route 66.
One of Waldmire's modified vehicles, an orange 1972 Volkswagen Microbus, was the inspiration for the character "Fillmore" from the 2006 animated motion picture Cars. Pixar abandoned a proposal to name the character "Waldmire" as Bob was unwilling to sell marketing rights to Disney for a series of toys which would appear in McDonalds Happy Meals.
On November 22, 2009 “Bob’s Last Art Show” was held at the Cozy Dog Drive-In. On December 16, 2009, Waldmire died from cancer which had spread from his colon to his liver. His ashes were returned to the earth at multiple sites, including his parents' gravesite in Mottarville Cemetery near Rochester, Illinois, both U.S. Route 66 endpoints and other pre-selected US 66 locations including his longtime Arizona winter home.
His official website, bobwaldmire.com, remains in operation and is currently being maintained by his brother Buz Waldmire. His trademark van and bus are now displayed in the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Illinois.