Richard “Ski” Zbyszewski, 75, died peacefully at home in the very early morning of New Year’s Day, 2023, with his wife, Jennifer, by his side. He faced multiple medical problems over the past 20 years with incredible strength of spirit. His kind heart, good nature, and quick humor enriched many lives, and will be sorely missed.
Ski was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, and grew up in Warren, Rhode Island. He attended college at the University of Rhode Island and was in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, serving as the company clerk in the basic training unit at Fort Dix.
He and his first partner, Rose Landesman, left Rhode Island in the early 1970s, and traveled across the country pulling an Airstream trailer, and working a variety of interesting jobs. One of Ski’s most memorable jobs was being a gunslinger in a wild west show in Panama City, Florida.
Ski and Rose arrived in the Methow Valley in the mid-1970s, and set up life here. Rose decided it was time to leave the valley in the late 1980s, and moved to Hawaii.
Ski worked for the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 20 years, doing a variety of jobs, including surveying, trail crew, and timber sale inspection. He left the Forest Service in the early 1990s to stay home and care for his father-in-law. He later began a career in real estate.
Ski and Jennifer were married in 1992, and their son, Tom, was born in 1994. Ski loved being Tom’s dad. Tom was studying physics at Whitman College, and working on a Forest Service wildland fire crew as a summer job. He and two crew-mates died fighting the Twisp River Fire in 2015 when the fire changed directions and blocked their escape. Losing Tom was by far the hardest thing Ski endured in his life.
Ski was proud to be the rhythm guitar player in the Gyrations Band, that was “famous valley-wide” in the 1980s and 1990s. He was an avid Seahawks fan, and loved watching the games with his buddies. He loved to fish, and spent countless days fishing the Methow and Columbia Rivers and local lakes. He was also an avid cross country skier, learning to ski in the days when the cross country trail system was being developed in Mazama.
He had a wide variety of friends, and loved getting together with them. He was usually the life of the party, often entertaining everyone with amusing stories about his incredible life experiences. He had a quick laugh and an outgoing personality, and made countless friends over the course of his life.
He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, at their home in Carlton; his sisters Maryanne (Fred) Jones of Rumford, Rhode Island, and Barbara Rix of Warren, Rhode Island, and several nieces and nephews.
He was proceeded in death by his beloved son, Tom, his parents, Bernard and Francis Zbyszewski, his brother Tom Zbyszewski, his sister Karen Capuano, and his sister Linda Seader.
A celebration of his life will be held in the spring, once the snow melts and the temperatures warm.
Donations can be made to the Tom Zbyszewski Memorial Scholarship fund of the Methow Valley Education Foundation. Several scholarships have been awarded since Tom’s death, and Ski was so happy to help each student in Tom’s honor.