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A proud heart: Carnation says goodbye to Pete’s Club owner Don Lovett

Pete
Pete's Club Grill owner Don Lovett watches a procession at a Scottish games gathering. Lovett, who died of cancer in April, will be remembered for his many community efforts; a memorial service is planned this month.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The photo is of a stoutly built man in boots, a kilt, T-shirt, bonnet, and motorhead mustache. He’s with a similarly-dressed crowd at a Scottish festival, standing at attention, the beginnings of a smile on his face.

“See that look?” asks Karen Marie, touching his face. “That’s Scottish pride, there. He’s listening to the procession of the clans.”

Marie has her own look of pride, mingled with sorrow, as she talks about the man in the picture, Don Lovett, member of Clan Fraser, owner of Pete’s Club Grill in Carnation, a friend, mentor and benefactor in the community, and her partner of six years.

“There’s never been anyone like him, and I’m afraid there never will be again,” she said as her tears surfaced again. “People were better, you were better, because you knew him.”

Lovett died Saturday, April 16, less than a month after his 50th birthday, about a year after his diagnosis of colon cancer.

His life will be celebrated in a memorial service Saturday, May 21, 2 p.m., in the Tolt Middle School gym, 3740 Tolt Ave., Carnation.

It’s also celebrated daily at Pete’s, where Marie and co-owner and general manager John Radovich will keep up the tradition of community involvement that Lovett began 10 years ago when he bought “The Pete.” That includes sponsorship of the Hot Rods & Harleys show for Carnation’s Fourth of July event, free chili at the city’s holiday tree lighting, cross-promotions with other businesses, Tartan Day of course, and as many benefit events as they could fit in.

Radovich said Lovett’s philosophy had always been “Hey, Pete’s is here to help, however we can.”

“Don always, always cared about other people,” Marie said. “Anybody who had a need, anybody who came to Don and said ‘Can we have a benefit,’ anything, he was always willing to help anybody and everybody.”

“He saw it as his responsibility,” added Radovich.

Pete’s has been an anchor for the city throughout its existence, operating as a gas station, ice cream shop and tackle shop before settling on its current bar and grill form. It welcomes families in the early evening, hosts local bands evenings and weekends, displays the work of local artists, and attracts everyone from the “icons of the community” who’ve had birthday parties there, Marie said, to die-hard motorcyclists.

“We’ve always had a huge biker clientele,” said Radovich.

Lovett himself was a Harley rider, so when it was time to update the Pete’s logo and sign for its 100th anniversary, the choice was obvious. The fisherman sign was retired and a sleek new logo featuring an old-school motorcycle went up instead.

That change was one of many that Lovett had slowly been making to his business over the years, but he always tried to stay true to the original spirit of Pete’s.

He knew what he had in Pete’s, too, Radovich said.

“The Pete’s thing that’s been going on for years, that come-as-you-are feeling... everyone knows about Pete’s,” he said.

So Lovett added some of his personality to the place—his love of history is represented in the Voices of the Valley portraits and the old photographs on the walls, and his love of all things Scottish is symbolized with the flags, the broadsword hanging high over the door, and the standard offering of Scottish beers at the bar.

“Don was smart enough to know that... you can’t be serving haggis and tatties. It wouldn’t work in the community,” Marie said. “Besides, if he’d turned it into a Scottish bar, it would have been Don’s, it wouldn’t have been Pete’s.”

Lovett also made sure to keep the focus on The Pete, and not on his illness, through his last time in the bar in April.

Don's life

Lovett was born March 18, 1961, in Snoqualmie, but grew up in Renton. He lived in Washington his whole life, was an Eagle Scout, a professional HVAC contractor, and was experienced in water rescues, which he did professionally for some time at Hood Canal. He bought Pete’s 10 years ago, hired Radovich as general manager seven years ago, and met Marie and moved to Snoqualmie six years ago.

He was diagnosed with a sacral tumor April 27, 2010, and spent a year fighting his illness, and spreading hope. Marie remembers many occasions in the cancer care center that Lovett, sick as he was, would reach out to other patients, offering them a Hope Coin (www.terrysbigadventure.com) and an ear to bend.

“There are people out there who are just a light, and that’s what he was,” Marie said. “He was pure goodness.”

Countless people benefitted from Lovett’s support over the years.

“I couldn’t even tell you how many people changed their lives because of his commitment to their success, his belief in them,” Marie said. “And he was always the king of second chances.”

• The May 21 memorial begins at 2 p.m. The family suggests donations to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance colon research, http://www.ccalliance.org.

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