Those locals who were around in the 1970s and 80s are likely familiar with KSTP and KARE TV’s “Peek-a-Boo” weatherman, who nightly reported the temperature in Bird Island, Minnesota, leading to the popular query, “Where the hell is Bird Island anyway?”
Barry ZeVan had a longtime friendship with Alice Williamson, who for many years was editor and producer of the MSC newspaper, the Midwest Sportster, previously known as the Minnesota Skier. For most of those years, Barry wrote a column, “ZeVan on Skiing” and continued to write for the online version of that publication. His final column was posted on the MSC website this past December.
At the age of 5, Barry started singing on radio KDKA in Pittsburgh, was a child actor in New York, spent a lifetime in news, weather, and entertainment in venues from Montana to Washington, D.C., and was ultimately inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and the Montana Society of Broadcasting Legends.
He served on many Boards and was a strong advocate for Native American rights, for which he produced an award-winning documentary on the loss of tribal lands. He hosted a weekly TV program, THE SKI SCENE, on KSTP TV. Also in the 1970s, Barry produced a TV ski documentary, skiing alongside Susie Chaffee, Billy Kidd and Iranian Empress Farah Diba. A week before his death, he recorded an episode of his web-based retro weather program. You’ll find it on YouTube under Retro Weather Barry Zevan.
It seems Barry knew everybody who was anybody and frequently offered anecdotes about various celebrities in his columns. I recall reading in his columns about the likes of famed skier Stein Erickson, Newsman Chet Huntley, entertainer Art Linkletter, and Vice President Walter Mondale, just to name a few. In 1916, at the urging of Jerry Stiller, Barry published his book, Barry ZeVan: My Life Among The Giants, A Memoir. It’s available on Amazon.com.
Barry passed away on January 1, 2020. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and son-in-law, four grandchildren, several great-grandchildren, and his beloved dog Kneesaa. He is preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Lisa.
In a small way, working with Alice on publications, I too counted Barry as a friend, having skied and socialized with him, and worked with him regarding his articles for the MSC Sportster and website. So sorry that he has left us.