You won’t suppose a 76-year-old used automotive salesman’s passing would transfer that many individuals. A neighborhood fixture whose passions inclined towards American muscle automobiles and selling his beloved Yakima Speedway, Doug Bettarel blended in simply as a Yakima everyman. A man in a ballcap who’d greet you with a slap on the again and a crusty handshake.
He had a smile as vast because the grille of a ’69 Mustang, too. And he wouldn’t hesitate — as many who knew him have been saying up to now few days — to provide the shirt off his again.
After serving aboard the USS Kitty Hawk through the Vietnam Battle, he additionally had a young spot for veterans. He hosted Veterans Day occasions at his automotive lot annually, giving freely garments, sneakers, hats and sizzling espresso to veterans who have been down on their luck. He additionally initiated quite a few reunions of his outdated shipmates.
Bettarel died Sept. 19, and whether or not you thought-about the speedway a neighborhood treasure or an ear-splitting annoyance, you couldn’t query Bettarel’s love for the observe he helped run till it was offered earlier this 12 months. The Oregon-based purchaser is predicted to make use of it as a heavy-equipment lot.
You additionally couldn’t query Bettarel’s love for the neighborhood.
The California native had lived within the Yakima Valley for 30 years, discovering his approach right here after he obtained out of the service.
He supported quite a few native causes together with his money and time, however stood his floor on his conservative political opinions.
Simply this previous October, he staged one remaining working of the Fall Basic race on the speedway, defying state COVID security guidelines and permitting about 2,500 followers to pack the stands with out masks. He ended up paying a $2,500 positive.
Perhaps it’s becoming that the speedway and Bettarel are going out on the similar time. It’s exhausting to think about one with out the opposite.
Final week, whereas staff at Higher All Auto grieved the lack of their boss, they honored him by protecting the doorways open — even promoting two automobiles the day after his dying.
Wouldn’t be stunning.
“For a person who solely had a highschool schooling, I form of see him as a genius,” mentioned Bettarel’s sister, Dolores Gieb. “He simply had a mission.”
Perhaps that mission — proper or unsuitable — was to personify some longstanding Yakima values. Perhaps it was to remind us that, no matter political stripe, we share widespread floor on this Valley, and we have to respect each other and get alongside as finest we will.
In both case, mission achieved, Mr. Bettarel.