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Newspaper names Dawn Welch Oklahoma’s Woman of the Year December 31, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Restaurants.
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Dawn Welch, owner of the historic Rock Cafe on Route 66 in Stroud, Okla., was named Oklahoma’s Woman of the Year by The Oklahoman newspaper today, according to the newspaper’s BAM’s Blog.

The Oklahoman no doubt honored Welch because of her tenacity, which the story details:

In 2008, Welch watched helplessly as the historic cafe, which she has owned since 1993, burn down. A year and nine days later, in May, she triumphantly reopened the Route 66 landmark. (In the meantime, the ever-busy Welch published a cookbook.)

The Rock Cafe has been around for 70 years, and it is one of Stroud’s top attractions and an immense source of community pride. The community has experienced a decade of hard times since it was ravaged in the May 1999 tornado that destroyed the town’s Tanger outlet mall, and it could ill afford to lose a landmark like the Rock Cafe.

Welch not only saw that the cafe was rebuilt, she is again filling the walls with community memorabilia, from newspaper clippings about the high school football team to artwork from customers.

She recently got some help filling the wall space from Pixar chief John Lasseter, who based the Porsche character Sally from his 2006 film “Cars” on Welch after meeting her on his Route 66 travels. Lasseter recently sent Welch a box of new “Cars” stuff to replace what burned in the fire.

Welch also published a cookbook, “Dollars to Donuts,” this year.

The main Oklahoman story about Welch’s honor is here. A key excerpt:

She tells people not to give up on how they want to live their lives.

“Dream big, and then work hard. Very hard,” Welch said.

“People are always waiting to do what they love versus just doing it or getting to it,” she said. “I have a lot of people who tell me all the time they’re going to do something in a year, or we’re going to do this. I had lost everything at the Rock Cafe, and a year and nine days later, I was able to put it back up.”

And get this — among the finalists that Welch beat were Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman, who boasts a humongously popular blog and best-selling cookbook by the same name; and multiplatinum country artist Carrie Underwood.

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