Longtime community pillar Fritz Ribary dies

If you have lived in the Snoqualmie Valley, then you probably know the name Fritz Ribary, a monumental figure of the surrounding area who died May 6.

You may know Ribary as the little boy who delivered milk from his family’s dairy farm in the early 1950s, or as the former mayor of North Bend from 1988 to 1992, or you may just know him as the friendly retiree who delivered your Frankie’s Pizza.

No matter the decade, Ribary was a well-liked citizen of North Bend and a major figure within the Snoqualmie Valley community.

“We are experiencing a deep sadness with the passing of a longtime resident and former mayor, Fritz. Fritz was very well-known and loved in this community for his volunteerism and civic service, including his city service as a council member in the ’80s, prior to serving a term as mayor,” said North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland at the city’s May 17 council meeting.

Born on Feb. 4, 1944, at the Snoqualmie Falls Hospital, Ribary grew up a farmer with his parents, Joe and Mildred, and his younger brother, James. After his parents’ divorce, teenage Ribary went on to wear many hats and serve his beloved community in any way he could. He was an Honor Society and math club member in high school, as well as the business manager, ASB president, and class president. Ribary even found time to play baseball and football and play in the school band.

Ribary began his college career at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where his mother and stepfather had their own farm, before transferring to the University of Washington to study marketing.

During his youth, Ribary was a dishwasher, a ski fitter, and even a truck driver while he was earning his degree. But his eclectic list of job titles and accomplishments didn’t stop there. Ribary went on to have his own Allstate Insurance office, developed a corporate sales and marketing curriculum for Seafirst Bank, became a SnoValley Chamber of Commerce director, a hospital manager of marketing and communications, and even spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy and Army reserves.

Ribary was a busy man, but he always had time for his family. He married Ruthann Fuller at age 26 and, after he returned from the war in Vietnam, they raised their three children Paul, Kevin and Andrea. Ribary loved being involved in the community and his volunteer work was especially admirable, according to friends and family.

In North Bend, he was a volunteer firefighter and EMT, the city’s planning commissioner, a city council member, a chairman of Snoqualmie Valley Youth HUB, and a volunteer for the Si View Parks booth at the farmers market. Ribary was also a board member for the Snoqualmie Valley Museum and he twice served as the commissioner for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District. In 2017, Ribary’s more than a half-century commitment to the Snoqualmie Valley was officially recognized when he received the award for North Bend Citizen of the Year.

Ribary was a regular attendant at the Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church and he was also a lifelong motorcycle racing enthusiast from his college days and up until his leg was broken in a crash last month. Ribary was then hospitalized for an undisclosed, unrelated illness. And in a recent blog post from the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, he was emailing the museum a few days before his death on May 6.

“Though hospitalized, always selfless, he reassured [us] he was doing much better and was on the mend, even if it would be a slow recovery. We were shocked and saddened to learn just a few days later that he had passed,” read the post provided by the museum’s assistant director, Cristy Lake.

Memorial services will be held on June 4 at Mount Si High School. No further details have been released as of press time.