Mary Elizabeth (Sumner) Snyder (1921 - 2016)

2 entries
  • "Mary is with Dana. I am so glad to have known both of them...."
    - Lark Leonard
  • "I am sorry to learn of your mother (and father's) passing. ..."
    - Cindy Lyman Durkee
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AMHERST -  Mary Elizabeth (Sumner) Snyder, a longtime resident of Amherst and for the last seven months of Newmarket, New Hampshire, died peacefully June 28, 2016, at the age of 94, surrounded by her loving family and a supportive community. Mary was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania August 31, 1921, the daughter of Agnes Stark Sumner and Sherman Sumner. She was born at home and the doctor who delivered her told her mother Agnes that he didn't expect her to live long!

Mary earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1947 from the University of Pittsburgh after seven years of night school. She married Dana Paul Eugene Snyder in Brushton, Pennsylvania in June, 1952. They both worked at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, she for ten years and he for two, before moving to Amherst, where they settled and raised their four children. Mary was a secretary in the English Department at Amherst College for many years.

She was an avid follower of national and international politics, donating time and money to liberal causes. On the local level, she served as an elected member of Amherst's Representative Town Meeting.For many years she could be seen every Friday standing on the corner in downtown Amherst as a member of the Women in Black, silently protesting war and oppression while promoting peace and human rights.

Mary also volunteered for many other organizations. She taught English as a second language and adult literacy, getting so involved with her students that she traveled to Boston to celebrate them when they became citizens. Mary was a Master Gardener and tended plants in the UMass Durfee Conservatory. She was involved with the League of Women Voters and CPPAX, among other causes. Mary was also instrumental in helping start the Amherst Farmer's Market. 

Mary and Dana's sixty-acre Amherst farm was among the first to be part of the Agricultural Preservation Program. They leased their farmland to a local CSA, Brookfield Farm, and were dear friends and mentors to Brookfield's farmers and apprentices.

She loved gardening, reading, music, ice cream and chocolate, puffy clouds and sunny days. She adored her family and cherished her many friends. For nearly 60 years Mary cared for the 1760s-era old saltbox house where she lived with her beloved Dana and raised her family and welcomed in many neighborhood kids. Friday and Saturday nights often saw Mary and Dana out at the local dance halls enjoying swing, country and especially contra dancing.

Dana predeceased her in November 2015. She leaves her four children, Mark Snyder and his wife Denise of Geneva, Illinois, Amy Snyder and her husband Gordon Gieg of Charlotte, Vermont, Tod Snyder and his wife Deborah of Mansfield, Massachusetts, Ellen Snyder and her husband Srini Srinivasan of Newmarket, New Hampshire; seven grandchildren, Reid Snyder, Brynn Hanson (and her husband Andrew), William Snyder, Robert Snyder, Jason Snyder, Lia Gieg and Rosie Gieg; and one great granddaughter, Mae Elizabeth Hanson.

Donations in Mary's memory may be made to the VNA-Hospice of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, 1110 Prim Road, Colchester, VT 05446 or to Doctors Without Borders. The family will hold a private service.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on July 6, 2016
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