For about 40 years, Tootsie Clark commemorated the reopening of Highway 20 by baking cinnamon rolls to give to drivers and WSDOT crews. She died in September at age 95.

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DIABLO, Whatcom County — In honor of Tootsie Clark, family and friends gathered Friday to continue her tradition and mark the reopening of Highway 20.

For about 40 years, Clark arrived every spring when Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews reopened Highway 20 over the North Cascades.

Known as the “Cinnamon Roll Lady,” Clark would commemorate the pass opening by baking cinnamon rolls to give to drivers and WSDOT crews.

Clark died in September at age 95.

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This year, on the first pass opening since her death, her family and friends continued her tradition, bearing cinnamon rolls and memories of Clark.

“I’ve been choking back tears, but I’m doing it,” said Jurene Brooks, Clark’s granddaughter. “Our family has deep, deep ties to this highway, this area.”

Brooks said she wanted to thank WSDOT staff and the community for their display of love and support for her grandmother.

“She believed in thanking her community,” she said.

Displaying the red jacket Clark wore each year, Brooks led the group of family and friends in pushing open Diablo Gate, which blocks traffic from entering the pass.

“It wouldn’t be a pass opening without her jacket,” Brooks said.

In addition to Brooks’ cinnamon rolls, pastries from 5b’s Bakery and Glacier Peak Resort and Winery were also on hand.

“(Clark) was an incredible lady,” said Michelle Falter, resort manager with Glacier Peak. “I was grateful to have met her.”

Clark’s display of love for her community — in the form of cinnamon rolls — is what people remember about the pass-opening celebration, Falter said.

“Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean we have to stop the tradition,” she said. “I’m glad the legacy will live on.”