Family, friends, suppliers and even former competitors turned out Saturday to congratulate Nancy and Brad Barnes of Barnes Florist on their retirement after 55 years in business on the Harbor.
The open house from noon to 4 p.m. at Barnes Florist at 405 N. Park St. in Aberdeen was a thank you to their customers.
“We’re going to miss our customers, who became all our friends,” said Barnes, natty in taupe slacks and a blue shirt that reflected the blue of his eyes. His wife of more than 60 years agreed, a tear showing in her greenish hazel eyes.
Leaning on a cabinet filled with photos of family, Nancy Barnes, elegant in fawn slacks, a paisley shirt and red vest, greeted people as they signed a guest book. A woman told her “you can’t retire because I don’t remember my mother’s address.”
Customer service is why three generations of Harborites have patronized the familiar florist’s business. “This place is a fixture. Wow,” said one patron. “It will be tough to drive by.”
Saturday, the street was lined with cars as a steady stream of people paid respects to the pair who provided them arrangements for many of their life cycle events: weddings, birthdays, graduations, proms and funerals.
Dorothy Mann, 103, of the former Mann’s Floral, described her competitors “as just good friends.”
Mann’s niece, Beth Daneker, said they often helped each other out — when one was out of a flower, the other provided.
Seated nearby, Vicki Fenton remembers meeting the Barneses in the 1940s, and remembers the special roses they prepared for the funeral of her husband, Bill, who died in 1977. The Barneses also arranged the flowers for Gordon Love, “my gentleman friend” of 30 years, Fenton said. “They have earned their retirement.”
Washington Floral salesperson Karen Meyers, cradling a Yorkshire Terrier named Lily, said she has worked with them since 1996. “I’m happy for them and I am going to miss them.”
The Barneses met in Olympia after he studied floriculture at City College in San Francisco. He came to the house to teach her sister how to Charleston, Nancy Barnes said.
She still remembers the pair clearing the dance floor at the Evergreen Ballroom. He does, too. They were dancing to Louis Armstrong and he still remembers the flying back kicks of the dance. The sister was spoken for, he and Nancy just happened, he said. They danced, too, he added, the foxtrot and “the jitterbug, believe it or not.”
The pair will celebrate their anniversary on July 11 between his 85th birthday on July 7 and her 81st on July 12, one of their five daughters, Amy DuBois said. No one was quite sure whether it is number 61 or 62.
Together, the Barneses have more than 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live on the Harbor. Many attended the celebration.
Both plan to spend time with their progeny, neither has any specific plans in mind. “Absolutely nothing,” was how Mr. Barnes described what they will do now. “There are a gillion things to do … but not yet. We have no schedule and no major travel planned. No cruise.”
After 55 years of six-day and sometimes seven-day work weeks, both are looking forward to relaxing. They have no plans to move from Aberdeen, “unless someone gives me someplace in Hawaii,” said Mr. Barnes with a smile. They may have a buyer in line to purchase the business, he said.
Carlene Randich summed it up best, “I think the Harbor’s going to miss them, don’t you?”