Fritz Yaklich

Fritz Yaklich left all his cares behind when he left this world peacefully on Jan. 31, 2017. A Crested Butte native, Fritz was the son of Fred and Leola Yaklich, grandson of Phillip and Frances Yaklich and great grandson of Jacob and Marija Kochevar. As a child, he wandered wild and free as Crested Butte children do, riding horses, building snow caves in winter and "forts" in Ruby Bend in the summer. He helped with the milk cows and with haying at the family homestead, now Meridian Lake development. He attended Crested Butte Schools, graduating as Valedictorian in 1963, in a class of four. For two of his school years, after the mine closed, he was the only student in his grade level. He played basketball, was on Student Council and the Yearbook. At that time in Crested Butte, if you wanted a team (or a yearbook) you had to be on it. He had fun in high school, tearing through the hills in the old army jeep and "hunting" at the dump with Paul, Freddy and Tony. After graduation he attended the University of Colorado, enlisted in the army, later worked at Keystone Mine and eventually attended Forestry school in Oregon. Fritz later returned to Crested Butte as an adult, with two great loves in his life, acting and the outdoors. He was a superb athlete; climbing every peak in the valley, doing day hikes that lasted for 10 hours and riding his bike great distances over the highest mountain passes. He loved all of nature, animals, trees and the forests of Oregon and Colorado. He was a tireless champion for the environment. Fritz loved the gym and constantly challenged himself with weightlifting. He had success as an actor in movies (Joe Dirt, The Addams Family and others); in national commercials (for Zippo, Vitamin Water, Chevy and Vote); on stage he appeared in "Romeo and Juliet", "Midsummer Night's Dream", and "The Cherry Orchard" for the Crested Butte Mountain Theater. He did stand up comedy in Los Angeles as "The Atomic Comic." Fritz was a good and loyal friend. Tuck, Bill Wheeler, Steve Griggs and Igor were special friends in Crested Butte. He had a good and kind heart for those less fortunate than he and would spend an hour picking out the perfect card to make you happy or a gift for a grandchild. His greatest gift was his amazingly bright mind. You just could not have a boring, small talk, conversation with Fritz; nor could you not laugh along with his sharp wit and wordplay. He wrote many challenging, thoughtful and humorous letters to the Crested Butte paper as "Fritz the Cat" or the "Atomic Comic." His greatest pride and joy were his sons: Zeb (Angie), Zach (now deceased), Ian (Nikki) and the grandkids (who called him "Timer) Austin, Preston, Kesley, Aiden, Sophia and Brady. His son's mother and his former wife, Margaret Horn, provided Fritz with friendship and support through his nine year battle with Leukemia. He appreciated and treasured Margaret. Fritz is also survived by sister Trudy, Mari (Jeff), Cindi (Dave) and nephew Collin; as well as beloved cousins, aunts, back-in-the-day Crested Butte friends and special California friends (Jeff , Dave and Terza). We are grateful to Pam and Bee, who provided friendship and care in his final months. His son's words best express our feelings: "Love you dad and thanks for the memories, for being one of the wildest, kindest and most fun dudes to ever walk the face of the planet. From King Crab fishing in the Bering Sea, hard rock mining in Colorado, Being in the movies and on tv; logging and then replanting the same forests of the Pacific Northwest, you survived almost half of the deadliest jobs on the planet and survived longer than anyone else on the treatment you were on. You were larger than life. Your absence in our lives leaves a huge void that we will try to fill by telling the amazing stories that made up your life." A memorial service to celebrate an extraordinary life of true adventure will be held in Crested Butte on July 8.

Gunnison Country Times

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