Longtime West Seattle service-station owner Richard J. ‘Dick’ Barnecut dies at 94

Another well-known West Seattleite has died. Seven years after finally retiring from his Admiral District service station, Dick Barnecut is gone. We just received this remembrance from his family:

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 longtime 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 longtime 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 grandchildren, 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. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to: West Seattle High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, 4742 42nd Ave 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.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

34 Replies to "Longtime West Seattle service-station owner Richard J. 'Dick' Barnecut dies at 94"

  • wseaturtle November 12, 2020 (4:25 pm)

    I propose we change WestSeattle to Barnecut!  R.I.P. Mr. Barnecut.You did good.

  • Smittytheclown November 12, 2020 (4:42 pm)

    Oh my.  What a fantastic life!  We can all only hope for a legacy this rich.  I miss Barnecut’s on Admiral.  Always fair.  Always a job well done.  Rest In Peace – you earned it. 

  • Margaret Kelly November 12, 2020 (5:08 pm)

    A true gentleman.   Knew the true meaning of customer service and being a good neighbor.   

  • WS Dad November 12, 2020 (5:40 pm)

    A wonderful man.  Old school all the way.  He was West Seattle and will be missed by all. 

  • Clay Eals November 12, 2020 (5:50 pm)

    Love the comment above about the filter. Dick was truly a West Seattle legend. To know him was an honor for me — and for my late mom, who grew up with Dick.

  • Devin Chew November 12, 2020 (6:05 pm)

    Can we find a street in WS to rename Dick Barnecut Way?

  • Family November 12, 2020 (6:46 pm)

    So sorry for your loss. Three generations of the Gwilym  family went to Barnecuts for the kind and great service they provided over many years. 

  • Auntie November 12, 2020 (7:45 pm)

    What a guy! I remember sitting in line for gas during the 70s gas shortage. Dick was strolling along the line, sending  Johnny-come-latelys who usually bought their gas elsewhere on their way, explaining that his regular customers had priority. Even with regular customers only, the line went out the driveway and at least a block down Admiral. We’ll miss you, Dick!

  • KW November 12, 2020 (8:17 pm)

    My cousin was a cool cat. I didn’t get to see him as much in recent years but he will always be a WS legend. He was definitely one of those inflection points and to know him was to love him. Rest in peace. I hope you are enjoying some fish ‘n chips and shandy up there with grandma.

    • Peter S. November 12, 2020 (9:07 pm)

      Hi KW.  So sorry for your loss and sincere condolences to you and yours.  (Wish you’d said something when we ran into each other at Safeway, yesterday.)  Big COVID-free  hug to you.

      • KW November 13, 2020 (9:21 am)

        Thanks Peter. I wasn’t at Safeway but I appreciate your kind words.

        • Peter S. November 13, 2020 (1:00 pm)

          Wrong KW, then.  Apology for the mixup.  The KW I know is definitely one of the Barnecut clan.

  • Alki resident November 12, 2020 (8:35 pm)

    What a huge loss to our community. We must honor him by naming a street after him by the station. “ Barnecut Way” maybe? RIP

  • Peter S. November 12, 2020 (8:37 pm)

    I was lucky enough to know both Dick and his parents, who were friends with my grandparents.  All classy folks, through and through.   I know this qualifies me for old coot status, but I remember my dad buying gas at Barnecut’s station when it still had the “Flying A” sign.  28 or 29 cents per gallon, IIRC.    

  • Calires November 12, 2020 (9:42 pm)

    The first thing I remember upon moving to West Seattle from another state was Barnecut’s.  Turning off of Admiral right there to get to my new home, thinking, that looks like a nice service station.  Condolences to his family and friends.  Maybe rename Admiral View Point Dick Barnecut View Point?

  • Barb November 12, 2020 (10:00 pm)

    He is with the rest of the Benbow  Inn Lunch Group. The finest bunch of men I have ever met. 

  • Katie Bucy November 12, 2020 (10:37 pm)

    What a dear man he was. Hugs, love, and prayers to the family. Xo

  • Mark November 13, 2020 (4:26 am)

    At closing time he rolled out the battery and jump started my car in the old Thriftway parking lot.  Did not charge me a dime.

  • 22blades November 13, 2020 (5:49 am)

    An Admiral icon. He’ll always be a part of the district. The last of the straight up “Service Stations” (Back in the day, west pumps, full serve, east pumps self serve. A boon to seniors). I hope the mural of the old station (on the north side of the station facing the Met Market parking lot) can be freshened up in his memory. I love that mural because I think it captures the neighborhood so well. My condolences to the family & friends.

  • PJK November 13, 2020 (7:45 am)

     I will truly miss his smile and greeting when I would see him at Metropolitan Market in the later years – condolences to his family.

  • Irishlady November 13, 2020 (8:27 am)

    Ahhh, sorry for loss.  We have lost a few WS staples this year.  

  • DHL November 13, 2020 (8:39 am)

    Thank you for this moving tribute to a West Seattle icon.  Simply put Dick was a good man.

  • Megan Sheppard November 13, 2020 (8:53 am)

    Dick was one of the last Old Guard standing of the Admiral Junction merchants.  And I was lucky to have called him and Dee neighbors, literally, from 2000 to 2008. I’d get the occasional phone call that my one of my dogs had outsmarted the fence,  trotted down the long driveway and across the street to take up residence in their yard.  What Barb, above, says, about the old Benbow gang is so true: We will never know their kind again.  Best wishes and happy memories to the family.

  • A Kline November 13, 2020 (9:40 am)

    Sorry to hear of your loss.

  • Ruth DeGabriele November 13, 2020 (10:54 am)

    Sorry for your  loss.  I have such fond memories of your mom and dad over the many years as neighbors!Ruth DeGabriele

  • workdowntown November 13, 2020 (12:14 pm)

    Mr. Barnecut was a gem, one of the best. I recommended Barnecut’s to everyone! I remember he even did home calls!  He will be missed.  Now we recommend his son Andy!  The Coghill’s 

  • Marilyn Rutledge November 13, 2020 (12:30 pm)

    One of the nicest guys you could ever meet. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for fuel.  When our son said, “Mom, you don’t know how to pump your own gas?” I said that’s why God made Barnecut’s.           Customer service was definitely evident at Barnecut’s.  We were loyal customers. Dick was just a special guy. 

  • Julia November 13, 2020 (12:42 pm)

    Sad to lose another of that generation. As a member of the Barnecut clan, I’ve known for years that anyone I meet in West Seattle could be a relative!

  • Vanessa November 13, 2020 (1:20 pm)

    Oh Mr. Barnecut, you big flirt! We will miss you. You are one of a kind. Dick is truly one of nicest and loving family man I have ever known. A real gem of a human being. Please accept my most sincere condolences to a fine and wonderful family as well.

  • John Ward November 13, 2020 (4:33 pm)

    Dick was truly a kind person and a real West Seattle gentleman. He was also a good listener and a hard working Cornishman. Old school Values of customer service and honesty. I remember 4th of July picnics at our Aunt Ruth’s when Kent was farm land. Aunt Let who help out when his mother died was probably an Influence in his being big part of the close West Seattle Community. Dick live long and honorable life. May he Rest In Peace. 

  • Grant November 14, 2020 (9:51 am)

    Dick was like a dad to us always treating us like kids even into our middle age.He is a legend in WS and a great idea to name a street love that !!!!

  • Mike Emmick November 14, 2020 (3:42 pm)

    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 to give back. Dick was my sponsor. God Bless you Mr. Barnecut and Thank you for the memories. Let’s rename the street next to your station, in between Metro Market, after you. Barnecuts Way or Dick Barnecut Drive?

    • dsa November 15, 2020 (4:22 pm)

      Barnecut alley,  the city could do that name.

  • Sheila G November 16, 2020 (9:51 am)

    What a treasure he was! I recall going with my grandfather to gas up his car at Barnecut’s. Wasn’t it Standard gas ??? Anyway I too am very wistful about the loss of dear people like this to our beloved West Seattle. Blessings to the family members and especially to Jamie whom we know professionally. We all mourn your loss.

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