Nevada City woman dies in Alaska |

Nevada City woman dies in Alaska

In the last days of her life, Zoe Kreizenbeck was doing what she loved best, scouring the beaches and hiking among the craggy hills of the Alaskan coastline.

Mrs. Kreizenbeck, a Nevada City resident and Colfax Elementary School teacher, died July 3 in a traffic accident near the town of Ninilchik on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. She was 49.

Services are pending for Mrs. Kreizenbeck, an avid sportswoman who made Nevada County her outdoor playground, filling her wanderlust with hiking trips to the nearby peaks and with trips across Europe.

“She had a real joie de vivre,” said Joan Griffin, a Lake of the Pines resident who worked alongside Mrs. Kreizenbeck’s at Colfax Elementary for 15 years. “She was somebody who could always find the positive in people.”

Mrs. Kreizenbeck was traveling with a friend when another car, traveling in the opposite direction, crossed the center divider on the Sterling Highway and tried to pass a truck. The car sideswiped the truck before hitting Mrs. Kreizenbeck’s sport-utility vehicle head-on, according to Alaska State Troopers.

She was the only motorist killed in the collision.

Her passenger, Kevil Pelton of Alta Sierra, was injured and later released from a hospital, friends said. The two were traveling east to the town of Seward, where they planned to go salmon and halibut fishing.

Mrs. Kreizenbeck, who was born in Nevada City, began her teaching career at Lyman Gilmore Middle School. At Colfax, she was a fourth-grade teacher and two-time district “teacher of the year” who planned to teach seventh grade in the fall, said her sister-in-law, Sandy Jones.

“She always said to live life to the fullest, because you never knew what the next day would bring,” said Jones, who teaches at Lyman Gilmore.

Mrs. Kreizenbeck came to Alaska on June 21 and was planning to return home next week, Jones said.

Mrs. Kreizenbeck was most at home in the wild, Jones said. She’d been elk hunting in Colorado, and deer hunting in both California and Idaho. About five years ago, Jones and her family accompanied Mrs. Kreizenbeck’s family as they trekked to Alaska and the Yukon Territory in a motorhome.

She had visited Spain and Portugal two years ago and had grander plans to visit Italy next summer after taking her seventh-graders to Washington, D.C., next spring, Griffin said.

Now, Griffin wants to travel to Tuscany and leave a memento from her friend there.

“I miss her tremendously,” Jones said. “Life’s just not going to be the same without her.”

Mrs. Kreizenbeck is survived by her husband, Gary; father, Ed Schukert of Twin Falls, Idaho; brother, Mark Schukert of Twin Falls; and son, Erik.

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