Kutnicki, ‘biggest-hearted,’ dies at 57
GYPSUM – Had Peter Kutnicki written an autobiography, it would have read like the autobiography of any longtime Eagle County local.He came here in 1972 for the recreation and mountain setting, and ended up staying. Along the way he worked a variety of jobs, got married, had a family and moved downvalley. What that now unwritten book might not have captured adequately, according to friends, was the size of his heart and his ability to give.Kutnicki, 57, died Monday, after suffering a heart attack during a heart procedure at a Denver hospital. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held Sunday at the Eagle Pavilion at 2 p.m.”He was one of the biggest-hearted people you could ever find,” said neighbor Terry Thissen. “He was one of those people you don’t find too often.”When Thissen had a kitchen fire in her home and it filled with smoke, Kutnicki was there in an instant with a fire extinguisher to snuff the flames before the fire department arrived.
“He came over so fast,” she said. “You could not have a better neighbor. If you needed something, he had it. He was a truly amazing person.”Long-time local Rossi Moreau remembers when Kutnicki moved to Vail. They became friends at a ski race in Steamboat Springs. For the first couple of months, Pete slept on the floor of a ski shop until he found a place of his own.”We were like brothers,” Moreau said.Kutnicki worked at Castle Peak Automotive in the service department and was active with the Boy Scouts.”He was just a great guy,” said Jay Taylor, general manager at Castle Peak, who’d known Kutnicki for more than 20 years. “He could talk to anyone. He had a personality that was just overrunning. He knew everyone in the valley.”Kutnicki was born June 29, 1947 in Germany and came to the United States in 1947 with his parents Wladyslaw and Bernice Kutnicki from Warsaw, Poland. The family settled in upstate New York in the Amsterdam area.
He fell in love with Colorado while on maneuvers with the Air National Guard and later moved from New York to Breckenridge and then to Vail. Like many, he worked in the restaurant industry in Vail Village. He was an original member of the Ravinos, an acrobatic skiing group known for its parties and also was a member of the Mountain Man Rendezvous. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing, camping and riding his four-wheeler and his Harley Davidson motorcycle.His mechanical abilities led him to maintenance engineering positions with several Vail area lodges.”He would fix your lawn mower or car or electrical stuff,” said his brother, Stan. “If you spoke with Pete, he would make your day a better one. He had a truly great sense of humor and would leave you chuckling with his endless stories.”
He is survived by his ex-wife, Diane, son Evan and daughter Sara, all of Gypsum; his mother, Bernice, of Amsterdam, N.Y.; brother Stanley and sister-in-law Cindy of New Castle; sisters Bernadine and Loretta, both of Amsterdam; and several nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers the family is asking for donations to a memorial fund at Alpine Bank dedicated to his children, who are 16 and 19.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or firstname.lastname@example.orgVail, Colorado