Loss of a Giant: Former Mayor of North Bend Fritz Ribary Passes Away

Update Memorial Service Information: Memorial will be on June 4th at 2 pm at Mt Si High School gym. The public is welcome.

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.

Fritz Ribary during the term as Mayor of North Bend, 1988-1992. During his tenure, the city celebrated the centennial of the city, the arrival of the railway and statehood

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

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.

Fritz Ribary, Valley Record Collection

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.

Fritz and James with their parents getting ready for a milk delivery.

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 stepfather’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 not to 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 a 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.”

Fritz and fellow ASB officers Robert Hamerly and Dennis Hamilton, Mount Si High School.

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 parent’s 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 to 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.

Antone and Ribary families enjoy a ride on I-90 before it opens, c1978. Antone family collection.

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).

When not working, Fritz also dedicated his life to community service. He at various times served as a North Bend firefighter 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 in his life.

Fritz receiving North Bend Citizen of the year award from Mayor Ken Hearing, 2017. Valley Record photo.

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 was his greatest pleasure.

Just a few days before his death, Fritz was emailing the Museum to say how much he appreciated all the posts we had been sharing. Though hospitalized and always selfless, he reassured me 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 that he had passed just a few days later. 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 Mount Si High School; details will be announced later.

[Guest Post by Cristy Lake. Reprinted with Permission from the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum]

Comments are closed.


  • Fritz will be missed by so many people of Snoqualmie Valley, May his soul rest in peace. He will be a hard man to replace.
    David Kelley

  • What a wonderful person Fritz was and what a life of service! His impact on our community will be long lasting. I will miss seeing him all around town and at events.

  • Thank you for the kind words. My dad was a special soul and he will be greatly missed.
    Services will be held June 4th. Not June 11th. Time TBD

      1. Hello- I wanted to update service time and location as well-
        Memorial will be June 4th at 2pm at Mt Si High School gym. Public is welcome.

  • My condolences to the Ribary family on the loss of such a community icon. Frtiz leaves a great legacy to this community and was a paragon of selfless community involvement.

  • One time when we were still in elementary school, I was doing dishes, I said to my mom, “I bet Fritz Ribary doesn’t have to do dishes” boy was I wrong!! He was always everybody’s friend, what a nice man…North Bend will not be the same without him! Rest In Peace my friend’

  • Very saddened to of Fritz’s passing. I have memories of Fritz and his father, Joe the milkman, delivering milk to the Orchard in Snoqualmie Falls and Fritz would wave at me from the milk truck.
    Fritz was always such kind soul and will be missed.

  • We will greatly miss Fritz, who greeted us with a smile and handshake every Sunday at SVA church. He was truly a great person, and we are privileged to have known him.

  • Arnold and I were so sad to hear of Fritz’s passing. Our condolences to Ruth and all the family. We will miss seeing him passing by with the grandkids, he always looked so happy.

  • So sad to hear that Fritz has passed away. We will miss seeing him walk by with his grandkids.
    Our condolences to Ruth and all his family

  • Our condolences go to Ruth and all the Ribary family, Fritz will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

  • I came across this article by pure chance. Mrs Ribary was my teacher at the North Bend school – third grade, I believe. I remember Fritz coming to the classroom while she read to us at the end of class; he must have been in first grade then, and his smile has stayed in my memory. He left a deep and positive imprint on North Bend. My sympathy to all his family and friends who are missing him.

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