Hollis Hall Barnett was born May 3, 1907 and died in Puyallup, Washington at the age of 83 on March 22nd, 1990. He was my wife Lita’s father and a very unique and wonderful man. You can read about his Lita’s mother Betty Barnett and more about this extraordinary couple I quickly 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 in St. James Cathedral in Seattle on November 16, 1931 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 operating 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.

Lita’s brother Hollis was 8 years old about 11:00 PM on October 3, 1947 when the Kautz flood happened He remembers “the roar of the rushing waters that surrounded our house on both sides and the pungent smell of the earth from all of the uprooted trees was overpowering. The park rangers carried myself and my sisters Barbara and Monica across the portion of the flood that was between the house and the road. The park was closed.” This  major flood destroyed the cabins and they had to be replaced. 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 working at their family resort  at the gate to 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://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. He had a wonderful sense of humor and everyone he met liked him. He and Betty were devoted. 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.

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