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Employees at Hangar on the Wharf restaurant are mourning 30-year-old colleague Peter Barrett's death after he was found drowned near his overturned kayak Tuesday afternoon north of Douglas Island.
"He always brought a smile to everyone's face," Hangar owner Reecia Wilson said. She called Barrett "the guy you could always depend on."
The Coast Guard received a report of a person in the water at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. Shortly before 4 p.m., a rescue crew pulled Barrett, unconscious and clad in a life jacket, from the water. They tried to revive him while rushing him to Auke Bay, where an ambulance took him to Bartlett Regional Hospital.
Alaska State Troopers said Barrett was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m.
His roommate, Lee Henry, who also works at the Hangar, said he had to go in early Tuesday and left Barrett kayaking alone, enjoying the first sunny day of the approaching spring. He said Barrett was an exceptional person.
"I've never met a more polite and loving person," Henry said. "He just loved life, always walking around with a smile on his face."
"He brought a smile to everyone," Wilson said.
Barrett worked as floor manager at the restaurant and was a longtime member of the serving staff, she said. He also was establishing himself as a photographer. He displayed a portfolio on his own Web site, www.barrettalaskaimages.com.
Henry said Barrett's photography business had been picking up since last year.
Barrett "was getting (his photography) into more galleries in Southeast Alaska," Henry said.
Wilson said Barrett grew up in Port Angeles, Wash., where his parents, Joe and Gertrude Barrett, still live. She said she is working with them in planning a service to honor Barrett's life.
Wilson said she closed the restaurant early Tuesday because it was difficult for the crew to continue working after she got back from the hospital with the news.
"We employ an age group and a type of person who live a life of adventure," she said.
Members of the staff are close, often living and traveling together, and because of the youth, "for over half of them, it's their first loss," Wilson said.
Tony Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.