John H. Belz was a husband, father, teacher, photographer and friend.
He was born in Casper, Wyo., on March 10,1947 to Winnie and Carlton Belz. He married Shirley Smith in 1979. They have three sons, Logan, Luke, and Nick.
Growing up in Casper, John had the exciting opportunity to play a horn in the Casper Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps. The highlight of his five-year membership with the Troopers was the year they won the National Drum and Bugle Corps championships.
After graduating from Natrona County High School, John attended Colorado State University, earning a degree in sociology in 1970. Soon after completing college, John's love of the mountains, a small rural community atmosphere and a photographer's paradise found him permanently settled in his beloved community of Steamboat Springs.
John worked many years as a general foreman for TIC. Wanting to spend more time with his young family, he returned to college and obtained his teacher's certification from the University of Denver in 1988 and his master's in Educational Media from the University of Northern Colorado in 1994. John taught at Soda Creek Elementary School for 16 years before retiring in 2004. He also was an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College, where he taught photography.
Prior to beginning his teaching career, John worked full-time for the Steamboat Ski Patrol for 14 years. He then volunteered for 13 additional years. As an active participant in his sons' lives, he spent many hours as a youth soccer coach and as a volunteer for the Steamboat Springs swim team and Winter Sports Club.
Besides his family, John's passion was photography. For many years, he was a member of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, displaying his work and volunteering his time. He started his own photography business, Lightwurks, and traveled internationally to capture scenic moments and wildlife interactions with his cameras and his photographer's eye. Many will remember the photographs he shared before movies at the Chief Plaza Theatre, and many friends as well as complete strangers received his unsolicited photographs.
John's caring and compassion were as deep as a three-wire winter. He bought lemonade from every little kid's lemonade stand, stopped to support a slow vendor at a crafts fair, and protected the homes of eagles and foxes that couldn't protect themselves.
Learning of the Belz family loss, a good friend of John's, also a passionate photographer, sent a photograph of the Hale-Bopp comet with the following inscription: "John is like Hale-Bopp ... they appeared in our lives in a blaze of beauty and although they have moved on, they will never be forgotten."
A celebration of John's life was held at Howelsen Hill on Sunday, August 6. Memorial donations may be made to Bonfils Blood Center or Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation in care of Grant Mortuary, 621 Yampa Avenue, Craig, CO 81625.