Fritz Ribary

You may have first met Fritz Ribary as your pizza delivery man, through a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, or as a classmate in school. No matter how someone met Fritz, he was soon known for his kind warmness, jovial smile, and wisdom. Fritz has served as a member of the Museum’s board of trustees since 2018.

It is with great sadness that we must share Fritz Ribary’s passing.

Fritz Ribary, Mary Miller photo.
Fritz and James with their parents getting ready for a milk delivery.

Fritz was born Frederick Joseph Ribary on the 4th of February 1944 at Snoqualmie Falls Hospital to Joe and Mildred Ribary. He was soon followed by his brother James in 1946. The Ribary family had immigrated from Switzerland during WWI and settled in Nebraska before moving to the Snoqualmie Valley to operate a dairy farm in the late 1920s. Mildred had been born and raised in the mill town of Snoqualmie Falls and trained as a teacher. Growing up on the Ribary Dairy, Fritz helped operate the business from an early age. By the age of four he was helping his father deliver milk on daily runs.

In his early teens, Fritz’s parents divorced and he moved off the farm for the first time, this was a culture shock for Fritz who had always considered himself a farmer. Though for a while he was able to return to the farm life on his mother and step-father’s new farm in Ellensburg.

In his teen years, Fritz’s first paying job was as a dishwasher at the Little Chalet (now the North Bend Bar & Grill). After a summer of dishwashing he attempted to get a job from Webb Moffat at Snoqualmie Pass as a lift attendant. Offered a job there as a dishwasher he worked the position in his ski gear for about an hour before deciding to not pursue the offer. He then wandered over to the ski rental shop to try skiing before heading home and ended up helping the owner, high school teacher Charlie Scott, get through a rush of customers. This assistance landed him a job as ski fitter for seven winters.

It was a great job, Fritz recalled. “We literally laughed and joked all day long. He had a great sense of humor, and I loved talking to people.”

ASB officers Dale Sim, Dennis Hamilton, Fritz Ribary, Gayle Koch, Bobbe Hamerly at Mount Si High School, 1962 Tenas Coma yearbook.

In high school Fritz was active in academics and sports: being a member of the Honor Society and Math Club, serving as President of the ASB, Class President, and Business Manager, while also playing in the band, baseball and football.

After high school Fritz started at Central University and later transferred to the University of Washington. During his time at Central, Fritz had arranged to stay with room and board on his parents former farm in Ellensburg in exchange for working the farm during the spring and summer. But the man who bought the farm went back on a verbal agreement the day before classes started, leaving Fritz no place to live. Luckily, he ran into a friend that night who helped arrange a place with a group of other young men at Central.

While in college Fritz and a friend began motorcycling racing, beginning a lifelong love of the sport. Fritz continued to ride motorcycles until April when he broke his leg in a crash. He also traveled Europe for a quarter during his college years. While at the University of Washington he drove trucks for Consolidated Freightways but after graduating with his marketing degree his boss told them if he didn’t pursue a career in marketing he would be fired from being a truck driver.

He married Ruthann Fuller in 1970 and they settled in Green Lake but soon purchased a house in North Bend after a series of break-ins and a stolen car. During this era, he was sent to Vietnam where he was stationed at a supply depot at Danang and later China Beach. After his return, Ruth and he started their family raising Paul, Kevin and Andrea. Fritz operated an insurance business out of North Bend and later got into banking developing a corporate sales and marketing curriculum for Seafirst Bank. He later returned to insurance before selling his business to work as the Chamber of Commerce Director and later Manager of Marketing and Communication at the hospital. During this era he spent 30 years in the Navy and Army reserves (15 years each).

Antone and Ribary families enjoy a ride on I-90 before it opens, c1978. Antone family collection.
Fritz receiving North Bend Citizen of the year award from Mayor Ken Hearing, 2017. Valley Record photo.

When not working, Fritz also has dedicated his live to community service. He at various times served as a North Bend fire fighter and volunteer EMT, a North Bend Planning Commissioner, North Bend City Councilmember, Mayor of North Bend, and a commissioner for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District two different times, the Chairman of Snoqualmie Valley Youth HUB, a Si View Parks booth volunteer during the Farmer’s Market and has been a faithful board member here at the Snoqualmie Valley Museum. He also regularly attended Snoqualmie Valley Alliance church’s services and religion played an important part of his life.

After retirement, Fritz wished to stay busy so he took a job delivering pizza at Frankie’s and doubled down on his volunteer involvements. In 2017 he was honored as the North Bend Citizen of the year. Though heavily involved in work and service, time with Ruth, grandchildren and children were his greatest pleasure.

Just a few days before his death, Fritz was emailing the Museum to say how much he was appreciating all of the posts we had been sharing. Though hospitalized, always selfless, he reassured 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. Fritz will be greatly missed by all who have known him, but especially by his loving wife Ruth, daughter Andrea and sons Paul and Kevin, and grandchildren. There will be a memorial on June 4th at 2pm at Mount Si High School.

Fritz and his brother Jim on the farm in 1956.
Fritz at North Bend Depot during Centennial of railways arrival celebration standing next to Snoqualmie Mayor Jeanne Hansen, c 1989.
Ribary family at Fritz’s North Bend Citizen of the year ceremony, 2017. Valley Record photo.
Fritz Ribary during term as Mayor of North Bend, 1988-1992. During his tenure the city celebrated the centennial of the city, arrival of the railway and statehood.
Fritz at daughter Andrea’s wedding. Mary Miller Photo.
Fritz MCing at Festival at Mount Si. Mary Miller Photo.