William D. Snow (Bill), beloved husband of Susan A. (Sessions) Snow, of Manchester, Conn., and father to three sons and two step-daughters, passed away at age 76 on Saturday evening, May 14, after a tenacious and lengthy fight with pancreatic cancer. Nine family members stood by his bedside.
Bill’s positive outlook on life served him and his loved ones well, even on the last day of his life, when he took on the rigors of physical therapy after a long hospital stay, spent some time with his partner of nearly 40 years, Suzie, and his son, Dave (me), and chatted about politics and his much-loved Boston Red Sox.
As with any life, unwinding the man’s experiences involves reading many threads. Bill was born on April 12, 1940, in Boston, Mass., to mother Phyllis L. (Webb) Snow and father Virgil Snow. He had one brother, Richard, a decade his senior.
Bill grew up in Brookline, Mass., in Greater Boston. He described his early life as “uneventful,” but, from his earliest years, he remembered World War II, where rationing and shortages of goods were commonplace. “I almost never had ice cream as a little kid,” he said. But it wasn’t all grim. On the plus side, his “neighborhood in Brookline had lots of other little kids, so life could be fun, with lots of opportunities for play.”
The Snow family came through the Great Depression while Bill’s older brother, Dick, was a child. One of the jobs his dad had was unloading 50-pound bags of flour from train cars, often in the cold. At night, Bill remembered, Phyllis would have to bend Virgil’s clenched fingers straight. Later, when Bill was still just a little boy, Virgil was a foreman at a laundry, and later became an organizer at Salvation Army donation drives. Phyllis worked in the cafeteria at Dick’s high school, and later worked as a sales clerk at W.D. Paine’s stationery and toy store in Brookline, where Bill also worked for a time as a teenager.
One of Bill’s favorite childhood memories involved an act of profound generosity. When Bill was about 9 years old, he wanted to play baseball with the school team. His parents were poor and couldn’t afford a baseball glove. Dick had just finished high school and was working for a men’s clothing store in downtown Boston. With what little money he had, Dick bought Bill a glove. Bill wrote about this wonderful act of brotherly love for a booklet commemorating the 60th wedding anniversary of Dick and his wife, Marie (Lehane) Snow, of Orlando, Fla., in 2014.
Bill graduated from Brookline High School in 1958. While there, he made good grades, played trombone in the school band and dated various young women during his junior and senior years. As a Massachusetts state officer in the Methodist Youth Fellowship, Bill gave serious consideration to going into the ministry, after ruling out attending Georgia Tech for financial reasons, though he had been accepted there to pursue an engineering degree. He decided on undergrad work at Boston University (BU), where he received financial aid and could reduce costs further as a commuting student. He planned to go to the BU school of theology after his undergrad work.
While studying psychology and philosophy at BU, his worldview began to change, as he met interesting academics and other people with differing viewpoints. He pledged Tau Kappa Epsilon because, at that time, it was the only fraternity at BU without a racial or religious requirement. There, he was happy to know people of various races and religions. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology – the first member of his family to earn a college diploma.
During his junior year at BU, Bill met Wanda Ellis Peters, of Ferrum, Va., at the college-age youth group at his Methodist church, St. Marks in Brookline. After a little more than a year they married at St. Marks. Bill worked with Vescony Co. of New York, which had a retail Vespa scooter shop in Allston, Mass. After managing that shop, Bill took a job managing a retail and rental facility in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He and Wanda moved there only weeks after getting married. On the island, they lived in a small apartment built into the side of a mountain overlooking the airport. His customers were an interesting assortment of people, including a local calypso singer who would perform for them in their home, and a motorcycle cop who twice needed a ride on Bill’s scooter back to his motorcycle after walking multiple arrestees to the police station.
Wanda returned to Boston in late spring 1963 to prepare for the birth of their first son, Scott Elliot Snow, due in July. He arrived early: June 15. Around this time, Virgil passed away during prostate surgery from a blood clot, and Bill returned to the Boston area. At about that time, his work varied: He became a manager-trainee for Friendly’s Ice Cream restaurants, tried his hand at selling life insurance for New York Life Insurance Co., and then entered the Prudential Life Insurance management development program, which led to long-term job as a claims investigator covering southern New England. He worked that job for many years.
The year 1965 proved to be a milestone in Bill’s life. In that year, his friend Tom Grey, of Boston, was killed in the Vietnam War at age 25. The two had been close friends years earlier in the Boy Scouts of America. They often camped together and talked under the stars about life and the future. In high school, Tom had been good enough to defer to Bill regarding a young woman they both adored. Because Bill had always considered Tom an intellectual, a peace-oriented philosopher, and, above all, a dear friend for life, Tom’s enlistment and subsequent death in Vietnam were especially traumatic.
Two more sons came after Scott: David William Snow, born March 24, 1967, and Steven Wayne Snow, born December 5, 1969. The couple bought a house in Newington, Conn., and later, in 1972, in West Hartford, Conn., where the three boys attended public schools. The couple separated in 1976, with a divorce to follow. Bill moved out of the house, but remained close with his children, seeing them often, and bringing another family into their lives.
Soon Bill began dating Suzie (Sessions) Lamson, who would prove to be the love of his life. Suzie had two daughters, Amy and Cheryl. In the following years, he lived with them in Manchester, Conn., where the Snow boys would often spend weekends, typically playing football games in the front yard and sharing a big spaghetti dinner on Sundays. Bill was a father to the five brothers and sisters. The two families coming together had “Brady Bunch” written all over it.
Bill’s gregarious charm served him well as a volunteer for PBS television station CPTV along with Suzie, starting in 1988 and ending in 2009. The two, who married in 1993 in a memorable “gangsters and molls” costumed theme celebration, were volunteer supervisors of the folks who took pledge calls at CPTV fundraising events. Among the pledge drive highlights, they met legendary WTIC sportscaster Arnold Dean and former UCONN men’s basketball head coach Jim Calhoun. Warned that Calhoun shied away from attention, Bill nonetheless persuaded him to sign UCONN hats worn by the fundraising team. Bill and Suzie also met famed UCONN women’s basketball coach Luigi “Geno” Auriemma and numerous players, including star center Rebecca Lobo of the 1995 championship team. In 1997, when she was playing professionally for the Springfield Spirit, she visited the pledge drive. When Bill asked her if she would call a local fan suffering a spinal disorder, Lobo asked for the phone number and called the fan. The conversation went on for 25 minutes.
In recent years, Bill and Suzie focused on enjoying life, spending time with friends and family, balancing work and leisure, and keeping active. They were enthusiastic subscribers to The Hartford Stage. Bill continued working at his sales job with hobby supply wholesaler Hobbytyme Distributors Inc. in East Hartford, Conn., through most of 2015. As part of his job, he produced and directed a couple of successful hobby shows, bringing customers together with suppliers.
Bill is survived by his wife, Suzie Snow, her daughter Amy Granato, her husband Jason and daughter Brianna; daughter Cheryl Cole and her husband Ronnie; son Scott, his wife Elise, and their children Miranda and Jared; son David and his wife Meg; son Steven and his wife Carol; sister-in-law Marie (Lehane) Snow and her sons David and Dennis Snow, and their children and grandchildren. Bill’s brother Dick, Marie’s husband, died of Alzheimer’s disease on Aug. 19, 2015, at age 84.
Calling hours for Bill Snow are scheduled to take place at Holmes Funeral Home, 400 Main St., Manchester, Conn., on Saturday, May 21, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a service of remembrance at 7:30 p.m. (860) 643-2441. Memorial contributions may be made to the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center of Hartford Hospital (http://www.harthosp.org/cancer/) or to MDOG (Manchester Dog Owners Group), P.O. Box 1448, Manchester, CT 06045-1445. To leave an online condolence, please visit http://www.holmes-watkinsfuneralhomes.com.