West Seattle icon Dick Barnecut has passed away
West Seattle icon Richard "Dick" Barnecut has died.
Known for his decades of West Seattle community participation he was 94 years old. His son, Jim, recalled some of what made his father such a beloved figure. "He was part of the greatest generation," he said, "and he was very loyal to West Seattle," often appearing at events at West Seattle High School plus sponsoring teams, or making contributions. "The thing about my Dad that I'd want say is that and he expressed this frequently was a deep and sincere sense of gratitude. He was just very thankful for his many blessings" Jim said.
"He would say that all the time saying, 'Man this is about as good as it gets.' he was a dyed in the wool West Seattle booster."
"I've been talking with my siblings and we all figure we were super lucky to have the parents we did. That's a great advantage in life is to have people that have your back. Any of my shortcomings could never be laid at the feet of my parents."
Jim recalled an experience he had with his father in the fifth grade. He and his sister Margaret were out for a hike in the Olympic Mountains to Upper Lena Lake. "We might have bitten off a little more than we could chew because it was a steep, rugged climb and a great adventure," but the experience was formative and was the basis for his later interest in climbing and hiking. "It was an eye opener to be in an Alpine situation for the first time and to know that your dad was competent and strong and you felt safe with him."
Jim noted that when you reach the age of 94 you can have certain phrases you become known by that might sound like cliches but which also define your personality and philosophy. Among those were, "When all else fails, read the instructions," and "It's easy to criticize," and "When you find yourself in a hole it's best to stop digging."
Richard J. Barnecut died peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning, November 8, 2020. “Dick” was born in Seattle on July 20, 1926, and was the oldest son of the late George and Imogene Barnecut. Dick’s father was part of a large clan (sixteen children!) that first settled in Seattle in 1889.
Dick graduated from West Seattle High School, Class of 1944, and was the right fielder on the city championship baseball team of 1943. He enlisted in the United States Navy immediately after graduation and was honorably discharged two years later after serving as a radioman and gunner on a PBM seaplane. He married his high school sweetheart, Dolores “Dee” Anderson, in 1947. They first met in junior high school and Mom must have overcome her initial impression of her future husband as “pretty obnoxious” because they were married for 68 years before her demise in 2015. Dick and Dee resided in West Seattle for all of their married life.
In 1953 Dick took over the ownership and management of the West Seattle service station business his father established in 1924. It is unlikely that Dad spent any time writing up a “business model” but he definitely had a philosophy: the customer comes first. A frequent reminder to his employees regarding the clientele was that “we need them more than they need us.” His authentic commitment to customer service and a tireless work ethic explain how a small business survived for almost ninety years.
Dick’s involvement in the community was not merely as a businessman. He was a long time member of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, the Monogram Club of West Seattle, and he was a member of the Lions Club for sixty years. He contributed generously, and often, to numerous local charities.
Mom and Dad shared an optimistic, positive outlook on life. They worked hard but they made time to play as well and they had fun together. They owned a vacation home on Hood Canal for many years and they were loyal supporters of Husky football as season ticket holders for five decades. They were not extensive world travelers but they did visit Europe which included Paris and the ancestral home of the Barnecuts in Cornwall, England.
Mom and Dad emphasized that family came first. And they meant it. By setting a good example they gave to their children perhaps the greatest gift of all.
Dad will be remembered as a “people person” and it was not an act. He continued working late into life and it was an open secret that it was not the work that he liked so much as it was the opportunity to schmooze with his many long time customers. In his later years there were some indications that the filter was not fully operational. However, those who really knew him would freely attest to his fairness, his integrity, and his tolerance.
Dick truly loved his wife, his children, his grand-children, his country, and West Seattle. His passing is a loss for his family and the community and he will surely be missed.
Dick is survived by his four adult children and their spouses: Margaret (Paul) Abrahamson, James (Jamie) Barnecut, Mary Ellen (Ron) Smulski, and Andrew (Lisa) Barnecut. He is also survived by his six grandchildren, Tom Smulski, Jill Deimling, Jenny Abrahamson, Rachel Barnecut, Nick Barnecut, Angelina Barnecut, and his great granddaughter, Kate Deimling.
A celebration of Dick’s life will have to be deferred due to COVID concerns. Memorial donations can be made to: “West Seattle High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund”, 4742 42nd Avenue SW, #215, Seattle, WA 98116; or “St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church”, 3050 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116.
Please visit www.emmickfunerals.com to sign the guest book.
You were lucky to have him for so long. Mom loved her cousin Dick and Dee. Such good people 💕
So sorry...I knew Dick only from the gas station...always a class act and staight shooter. Graduated WSHS with his son Jim.
Dick was a wonderful guy who knew how to fix cars and treat people right. He worked on my car in high school and I have many memories
of Dick and George at the 'shop'.
I'm sorry for the families loss. His gas station has been around ever since I came to West Seattle around 3-4 yrs old. His son is a very nice attorney. Sorry for your loss!!
My heart felt sympathies to all of the Barnecut family. Dee and Dick were customers of my own business for decades. They were truly the best of people! Thank you, Dee and Dick, for allowing me the privilege of getting to know you, and for the wonderful example you both set for living a good life! You will be fondly remembered and missed by so many.
I had the privilege to work for Dick for 37 years and as Jim stated, Dick deeply cared about our West Seattle community and sponsored many local youth sports teams over the years.
My condolences to the entire family, God bless!
I am sending hugs to your entire family. Remember well how sweet Dick was when he was selecting flowers for Delores from my flower shop, Linda’s Flowers & Gifts, and how kind he was to me when my van had its hiccups. He was always a gentleman - opening doors, tipping his cap - truly one of a kind. Dick just had the nicest most genuine smile and often shared a funny, clean joke. Much love to all of you, Linda
Dick was a true West Seattleite! Irreplaceable! We remember the gas station, festooned with flowers, and Dick gabbing away with a customer. All the best to Jim and Mary Ellen and other children and grands.
I wonder if your dad knew my grandfatherl, Edmond D. Holland, who owned, retired and died in the mid '80's. He owned the Signal station in Fauntleroy. We grew up in West Seattle so was just wondering. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person and I'm so sorry you have lost him.
I loved working for Dick and Andy at the station. They taught me so much about work ethic, community relationships and customer service. I met so many wonderful West Seattle people while working for the Barnecuts. Dick's entrepreneurial spirit inspired me to start my own business serving our West Seattle neighbors. He also encouraged me to join the Lions Club of West Seattle. Dick was my sponsor. God Bless you Mr. Barnecut and Thank you for the memories.
Let's rename the street in between your former station and Metro Market in the Admiral! Barnecuts Way? or Dick Barnecut Drive?