Washburn Auto Service Center closes; longtime worker moves to Darrell’s

While wiping clean a customer's windshield, Kelly Binkley, employee at Washburn Auto Service Center, 2236 S.W. Washburn Ave., says he still gets a joy out of helping people after 40 years in the full-service auto business. The business was set to close this week, and Binkley plans to finish his career at Darrell's Service, 4300 S.W. 21st St..

One of the last remaining icons of a bygone era sits at 2236 S.W. Washburn Ave., next to Shunga Park.

Washburn Auto Service Center — still advertising full-service gas to the end, a beacon of nostalgia in an otherwise self-automated world — closed its doors this week.

The man behind that service is Kelly Binkley, who has been a loyal employee of the business since he began working there as a student at Washburn University in 1980. Originally owned by Binkley’s uncle, Gerald Binkley, and known as Binkley’s Service Center, the business first opened in 1961 at S.W. 21st and Buchanan.

“My uncle was my greatest mentor,” said Binkley. “He taught me about ownership, leadership, and giving back to the community.”

The business moved to its current location the same year Kelly began working there. Gerald Binkley retired in 1999, selling the station to brothers who ran it under the name Burnett Automotive until 2005 when it was purchased by Big O Tires.