My father in law, Hollis Hall Barnett died in Puyallup, Washington at the age of 83 on March 22nd, 1990. He was a unique and wonderful man. You can read about his extraordinary wife Betty Barnett and more about this couple who I grew to love.
Hollis was born in Buckley, Washington on May 3, 1907 and spent his younger years at Mt. Rainier National Park where his father, Herman “Herm” Burke Barnett, was a National Park Ranger. Hollis had grown up in the park. and had worked as a temporary ranger in the park while growing up. After high school he went to Spokane to attend Gonzaga University. Hollis met his future wife Betty there when she as a senior at Holy Names High School and he was attending Gonzaga University. At the time he was staying in a boarding house run by Betty’s aunt and they married November 16, 1931 in Seattle where he had found work operating a gas station to support them. Then, in 1937, Hollis was offered the operation of a small gas station located at Longmire inside Mount Rainier National Park, so they moved there and lived in a small room above the station.
While working at the gas station in 1937 Hollis learned that land owned by the Park Commissioner Edward Hall was for sale. He decided to buy property located right at the entrance to the park as an ideal location for a resort, gas station and restaurant. Their son Devitt was born in 1933, followed by young Hollis in 1939 and then Barbara in 1940. With a growing family began to build a small house next to the restaurant in 1941. Monica was born in 1943 and Lita in 1950. This was a family run resort that served food, sold gas and provided small log cabins for overnight guests. They also rented ski equipment and had a small store inside as well. Everyone in the family worked at the resort.
Later A major flood destroyed the cabins and they had to be replaced in the late 1960’s. After many years of working long hours at Gateway Hollis and Betty sold the business and retired to Puyallup where they enjoyed reading and traveling. They had spent their whole married life at the park.
Hollis had the ability to “talk to the animals.” Not only animals, but ravens and birds would come out of the woods and fly from trees to come to him. He would talk to them in the noises they instinctively made. Hollis was very entertaining because he knew so many poems and limericks by heart. He would recite them all the way from Mt. Rainier to Tacoma and back where he would drive for supplies. He knew almost all the Robert Service Poems as well as classic English and American poetry. My wife Lita’s personal favorite as a child was a poem called “Sugar Tooth Dick” that he could recite. See https://www.paulluverajournalonline.com/weblog/2011/12/sugar-toothed-dick.html for the poem.
He was one of those unique thoroughly decent human beings who loved nature and his fellow human beings. When Betty died Hollis was devastated and really never recovered from losing her. She was a very special woman and so was he. I miss them both and wish I could be half the decent and good human being Hollis Hall Barnett was during his life.
May he rest in peace.