Samuel Snyder


Samuel Snyder died gently in his sleep March 8, 2012 at the Henrietta Brewer House in Vineyard Haven. He had been in declining health for several years.

Sam was born June 4, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Penn., the third son of Harry and Anna Ressler Snyder. He grew up in Pittsburgh where he attended Carnegie Tech.Early in World War II, Sam was chief electrical engineer of a Navy shipyard. When the shipyard began to be phased out, he volunteered for the Navy and served in the Pacific. He was moved from one destroyer to another as a radar expert. Three of those destroyers were later sunk.

After his discharge, Sam worked for the Navy Department as Chief Electrical Engineer for the Guided Missile Program, the Tartar Missile and in Counter Measures. He was with NASA in its early days, and was Project Manager for the Delta Rocket, and Assistant Director for Launch Operations, among other assignments.

In 1973, Sam met Cary Mathews and took early retirement. They were married in 1974. After completing the Power Squadron’s Advanced Piloting Course, Sam, Cary, and their cat, Harry, boarded Sam’s boat and cruised down the Intercoastal Waterway from near Annapolis to Florida. It was a wonderful six weeks with layovers in interesting places.

The three of them came to the Vineyard, where Sam had already purchased land on the Lagoon, and began building their own home — Definitely a long-time project. House construction was often interrupted for trips to Europe and traveling over most of this country, often with Harry. There were all-to-brief visits to Canada and Mexico also.

On the Island, Sam and Cary enjoyed giving dinner parties in their home. Sam was a fine cook and delighted in preparing elegant meals for their friends. He had a deep knowledge of history, and was awonderful story teller — of his experiences, the solar system — so many topics. His friends will also remember his great sense of humor and delight in a good joke. His humor lasted almost to the end.

Sam was generous, caring, and supportive. He took great pleasure in helping friends with both projects and problems. He and Cary installed sound systems in the Tisbury Senior Center, the American Legion Hall in Vineyard Haven and the Chilmark Community Church. He enjoyed his time on the Council of the Senior Center, picking up filleted fish from the Derby for town distribution, etc. Each activity made new friends and acquaintances. He was especially supportive of Cary and encouraged her in all her interests — giving carefully considered critiques of her cooking, quilts and homemade teddy bears. They were a good team.

Sam was predeceased by brothers Maurice, Howard, Benjamin, and nephew, Dennis Snyder. He leaves a niece, Betsy Davis and great-nephews, Martin and Michael Snyder, and their wives and children. Also his brother-in-law, Val Mathews, and his wife, Martha. Sam enjoyed and was very supportive of his niece, Heather Densmore, her husband, J.D., and their sons, Ryan and Will; nephew Ernest Mathews III and his daughter, Valentine; and nephew Brent Mathews and his wife, Siuyien, and their children, Evelyn, Charlotte and Kirk. His only regret was not being strong enough to really enjoy the children.

Friends gathered Sunday at the Chapman Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, and again on Monday for a brief memorial service. Interment was at Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. The Veterans of Martha’s Vineyard gave him a military funeral and Rabbi Caryn Broitman presided over the beautiful and timeless burial service. After the service, a lovely reception, given by Barbara and Alan Fortes, was held at the Vineyard Haven American Legion hall. It was a sad day, but family and friends made it warm and loving. A beautiful day. Sam would have enjoyed it.

Contributions in memory of Sam may be made to the Vineyard Nursing Association, PO Box 399, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or Hospice of MV, PO Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

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