Gary Barton Smith: 1953 – 2023
Last updated 5/17/2023 at 1:23pm
Gary Barton Smith (Smitty) was born on Dec. 29, 1953, and passed peacefully on March 3, 2023. Born in Seattle and raised in Edmonds, he attended Meadowdale High School and was proud to play on their Hall of Fame football team.
Music was always in his life, joining his first band when he was only 14. He was involved in several Northwest bands – Smith Bros., Buckin A, and Lost Vuarnets! He played guitar and sang for friends and family on the porch, around a campfire, and even at impromptu gatherings. He was not only an incredible singer but loved being the "front man." Gary had amazing charm and wit and had a joke for every occasion. We weren't sure if we were laughing at his joke or at him laughing at his own joke!
Gary was a natural entrepreneur starting one of the earliest espresso carts in front of the Seahorse Restaurant in Mukilteo in the mid-80s. That espresso cart soon became multiple shops. His passion was coffee and roasting was a huge part of that. He wanted to deliver both high-quality coffee and an exceptional experience to the customer, but he needed a place to do so. Mukilteo Coffee Roasters started in quaint Mukilteo and eventually moved into the woods on Whidbey Island. It grew to be a successful international and widely respected company.
He met the love of his life, Beth Korvin, in the early '80s, when she worked for a small company that would eventually become Seattle's Best Coffee. He bought coffee from her, and they did everything together. Good coffee and community were their passion, and they created an environment for their customers that was filled with positivity, laughter, and joy. Through buying the highest quality beans and prioritizing training and education and making their customers feel like family, their business grew. It took them overseas where they were able to establish connections with people they could have never even imagined. Gary never forgot about his customers. You could always find him chatting in the café with both new and old friends sharing a laugh and maintaining connections. No matter how bad a day you were having, when you entered the café, you would always leave with a smile on your face. "Keep smiling" he would say, and always stayed true to that.
Gary's dream came true when his two boys were born – Lake James and Leo Janos. He rarely missed a sports event, and his voice carried so far it could always be heard on the field – many even thinking he was right on it with them. From a young age, family meant everything to him. His three favorite words were always Husband, Dad, and Papa. He cherished time with his immediate family, with family around Seattle and across the U.S. His mom Betty's family farm in South Dakota was dear to him. He always enjoyed trips back to see his family and enjoyed nothing more than the connection he had with the land and the childhood memories it held. His father Bart grew up in an orphanage in Tennessee and as he looked more into his family history, he realized just how much passion he had for the Delta Blues and the significance it held in his heart. His family whom he got to know meant the world to him.
Gary lived a life people only dreamed of – to make as many friends and touch as many lives as he could. Even though he has passed, he has won in life. Love is the greatest achievement in life and that's all he was known for. Whether it was some words of wisdom or a bad joke, he never fell short of helping people through the tough times. He was always there for us, the most generous, caring, and loving person we know.
We thank you all for being a part of his life, however, it may have been. We know he continues to live on through us all. We love him so much!
Gary supported so many places. Two of his favorites were South Whidbey Children's Center and the Burned Children Recovery Foundation. We are also setting up a scholarship in his name at South Whidbey High School. More of those details are to come.
We will celebrate this extraordinary man on May 21, 2023, at Meadowdale High School (his high school) from 2-5 pm. It will be in the Great Hall, use the entrance by the flagpole. We will also have an open house sometime this summer at the Roasterie on Whidbey Island for those that cannot attend this one.