John Suzawith |

John Suzawith

Retired Snowmass ski patroller and noted local musician John Suzawith died Friday, Nov. 30, in Clifton of natural causes. He was 61.

John grew up on the family farm in Yelm, Wash., and graduated in 1964 from Yelm High School, where he was the football team captain and student body president.

The winter of 1967-68 he arrived in Aspen, in a blizzard. He started on the Snowmass packing crew in 1969 and later moved to the ski patrol. He ultimately became a patrol supervisor.

John spent many winters living in a primitive cabin at the bottom of the Campground lift. He called it “Pleasant Valley” and smiled when he talked about it.

The Aspen Times once did a feature piece on John, in which it stated that he represented “a new breed of patrolman.” The name stuck, “Breed” became a patrol nickname, along with “J. Suza.”

He left the patrol in 1995 and spent the next decade working as a house painter in Whitefish, Mont. He later moved to Clifton. He worked for the city of Grand Junction and was part-time owner of Johnny’s Bar and Grill.

His lifelong passion was music: John was a talented jazz and rhythm-and-blues guitarist who played in bands beginning in high school. He played with groups in California, Washington, Montana and Oregon. In the Roaring Fork Valley, locals remember his stint with Carbondale’s Sirens of Swing.

John enjoyed people, sports and family. Friends and family remember his easy smile and dry wit. He will be missed.

He leaves behind a grown daughter, Aria, of Newport Beach, Calif.; and his longtime companion, Beverly Smalley, of Clifton. Other survivors include brothers Thom, of Basalt; Gerald, of Rainier, Wash.; Bill, of Yelm, Wash.; and sisters Theresa, of Yelm; and Suzann of Fairbanks, Alaska; and niece Mantia Maria, of Olympia, Wash.

Memorial service are pending.

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