Robert C. Snyder
|Robert Craven Snyder, Sr.|
Robert C. Snyder (1970)
April 30, 1919|
|Died||June 8, 2011
|Alma mater||Vanderbilt University|
|Spouse(s)||Virginia Brownie Webb Snyder (married ca. 1944 – 2011, her death)|
Rebecca Snyder Howard
Robert Harrison Snyder
Robert Craven Snyder, Sr. (April 30, 1919 – June 8, 2011), was a professor and professor emeritus of English at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. He was particularly known for his public lectures on cultural, civic, and educational matters during the decades of the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s.
The youngest of six children of the late Robert Harrison Snyder and the former Sophia Elizabeth Brock, Snyder was a native of Niota in McMinn County in eastern Tennessee. During World War II, he was employed by the Atomic Energy Commission on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, work which led to the development of the atomic bomb. Snyder attended Methodist-affiliated Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee and also studied at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama, formerly Florence State College. He further studied at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Tulane University in New Orleans, and did graduate work at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Over his academic years, he spent summers at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, Mississippi and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.
In a 42-year career at Louisiana Tech which extended from 1947 to 1989, Snyder was head of the Department of English and Foreign Language and thereafter the separate Department of English. He could for years recall many of the students whom he had instructed by name. At his retirement, he was named professor emeritus and the first Louisiana Tech Distinguished Professor. Former Snyder students Sam Wyly and Wyly's brother, Charles Wyly, Jr., prominent businessmen in Dallas, Texas, established the Robert C. Snyder Endowed Chair in English. Snyder's obituary describes him as a strong classroom lecturer who was "as beloved as he was at times difficult. His brilliancy had no match. His white long sleeve starched shirts and seersucker suits . . . his knowing laugh, his acerbic wit and charm, and his engaging manner of telling stories combined with his refinement will be missed forever."
In 1962, Snyder worked to establish the Lincoln Parish Library and was the president of the library board for many years. In 1966, Governor John J. McKeithen appointed Snyder to the state board of library commissioners. He also served a president of the Louisiana Library Board and received the Modisette Award by the Louisiana Library Association. He was an officer in the American Library Association. He was later appointed by Governor David C. Treen to serve on the Louisiana State Ethics Commission, a position that he held for twenty-six years, including a stint as chairman of the commission. Snyder served on the Louisiana Tech Athletic Council from the late 1950s through the 1980s. He was selected by the Alumni Association in 2005 for the Arliss Scroggin Award for Distinguished Service to Louisiana Tech. Snyder was also a member of the Executive Council on the Louisiana Commission for the Humanities. He was a national editorial critic for various specialized publications, and at one time he fielded questions on a weekly radio program from Shreveport, Louisiana.
Death and legacy
Snyder was preceded in death by nine weeks by his beloved wife of sixty-five years, the former Virginia Brownie Webb (September 19, 1921–March 21, 2011). Mrs. Snyder, the daughter of the late Vincent Jerome Webb and the former Lena Guin, was a native of Winfield in Marion County in northwestern Alabama. Professor Snyder was also preceded in death by his step-mother, Alpha Simpson Snyder (1893–1980); sisters, Elizabeth Snyder Harrington, Ava Snyder Glendenning; Mary Frances Snyder Smith; brothers, Samuel Snyder, Gilbert Snyder; and half-sisters, Mary Jane Snyder Sewell and Sue Snyder Long.
Snyder's three surviving children are Rebecca Snyder Howard and husband Dr. Rennie Howard of Williamsburg, Virginia, Stephana Snyder Dean and husband Albert "Bud" Dean of Bossier City, and the physician Dr. Robert Snyder, Jr., and his wife, the former Gayle Langley, of Helena, Alabama. There were also seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The grandsons served as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers included Tech president Daniel D. Reneau, former journalism professor Wiley W. Hilburn, State Senator Francis C. Thompson of Delhi, and Charles and Sam Wyly. Post-honorary pallbearers were F. Jay Taylor, the Louisiana Tech president from 1962 to 1987, who preceded Snyder in death by less than a month, and former Tech baseball coach Pat "Gravy" Patterson.
Teddy Allen of the Shreveport Times, another Snyder honorary pallbearer, wrote in remembrance of his former professor:
"One could argue that Snyder was the most loved teacher at Tech for at least four decades. He instructed, encouraged, counseled, consoled, challenged, and inspired. He did it with everything from Plato’s Republic to Frost's poetry, all with a charm and passion, a shout or a whisper. He expertly navigated the classroom trail, sometimes changing tactics, but tailoring his presentations to students while stealthily making them rise to his level. But he was more than a champion in the classroom. He advised governors and congressmen, spoke at every Kiwanis and Optimist Club within a day’s drive of Ruston and still found time daily to spend with his friends Thoreau and Tennyson, Pope and Emerson. He never stopped learning or teaching. His resume includes almost singlehandedly founding the Lincoln Parish Library and serving on its board for thirty-nine years and on the State Library Board from 1968 to 2005. . . . "
In the early 1970s, Snyder addressed a state convention of gifted high school students and described his philosophy of life, accordingly:
"I am so very weary of hearing that the world is going to be blown up—that youth is not to be trusted—that there is no chance for greatness today—that most of the frontiers have been conquered. Let me say to you that all of these suggestions are untrue and will not come to pass, for we are actually just in the infancy of civilization, and you are living in a glorious age and day. Man is just beginning to crawl, so to speak."
- "Votes, Voters, and Voting Profiles in Ruston, LA". voterfactory.com. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- "Robert C. Snyder Obituary". Shreveport Times, June 12, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Snyder's obituary gives no dates regarding the institutions at which he studied or the degrees received.
- "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- "Virginia Webb Snyder Obituary". tributes.com. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- "Echoes of Professor Robert C. Snyder Sr.: An Influence for the Ages," June 10, 2011". news.latech.edu. Retrieved June 21, 2011.