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 share memories & photos of Dick and condolences with his family on the guest book/tribute wall located above.