Fred Katz, a former Calaveras County planning commissioner and longtime volunteer with the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District, has died.

Katz, 59, was in Canada on a family ski trip when he suffered a heart attack March 28.

Those who knew him were shocked and saddened by the news.

"You don't expect that to happen because he wasn't that old," said Rancho Calaveras resident Terri Bailey, who knew Katz as a friend and colleague within county government. Bailey is the former Calaveras County District 5 supervisor.

Burson resident John Janowski, who served with Katz on the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District Board of Directors, had known him for about five years.

"Fred and I talked probably four times a week, we went to lunch weekly and we were on the fire board," Janowski said. "He was a good friend of mine, and he did a lot of stuff. It's quite a blow."

Katz was born May 5, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was 2 and he remained in the state for the rest of his life. He visited the Mother Lode often since the late 1970s and had lived here about five years.

While living in Bakersfield, Katz ran his own business consulting firm, Fred Katz and Associates, since 1982. After moving to Rancho Calaveras, he ran the business from his house.

Soon after moving permanently to Calaveras County, Katz became involved with the Jenny Lind fire district. One year later, he was on the board of directors.

He also served a year as board president, the role now held by his friend Janowski.

"He's a highly intelligent guy with a great sense of humor," Janowski said. " ? He was a very close personal friend of mine."

Janowski described Katz as an "avid" skier. Katz also enjoyed visiting Toyon Middle School and Calaveras High School, where students looked up to him, Janowski said.

Katz served on the Calaveras County Planning Commission for almost two years.

Katz was District 5's commissioner from March 2001 until November. He resigned to focus on his new job as a real estate appraiser.