MPA Hall of Famer Joe Synder dies

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 Joseph R. Snyder, 95, of San Marcos, TX, formerly of Gallatin, passed away April 16, at Horizon Bay.  Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at McWilliams Funeral Home in Gallatin where friends may call after 11:00 a.m. Tuesday.  Visitation will be 1 hour prior to the service.  Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery near Gallatin.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Gallatin United Methodist Church, the San Marcos United Methodist Church or Missouri Press Foundation, in care of McWilliams Funeral Home, 1329 W. Grand, Gallatin, MO 64640.

Joseph Robert Snyder arrived in this world on July 6, 1918, in Kansas City, MO, and he spent his life using the tools of journalism trying to make things better for others. He was born into a working class neighborhood to Ralph Joseph and Edyth Ferguson Snyder, rather ordinary Americans, who raised their son with love and fortitude, instilling strong ethical values. He began his journalism career as a carrier-salesman for The Kansas City Journal Post, later moving to The Kansas City Star as a phone boy on the sports desk. During this period, he also pioneered the Blue Valley News, one of the first  “community” newspapers in the Kansas City area, composed and printed in the family’s garage on East 15th Street. It was a free-distribution newspaper, supported by local advertising.

He left his position on The Star during World War II, rising from a private in the horse cavalry at Fort Riley, KS, to Captain on Douglas MacArthur’s press staff in the South Pacific. His job there was not in an office but in combat areas. There he assisted war correspondents in reaching the scene of action where they wrote their dispatches, often in bomb craters or dugouts. He always tried to keep them out of harm’s way, though he lost a couple. His overriding task, besides the safety of the correspondents, was ensuring the stories got back to U.S. newspapers and foreign publications. He landed in Japan on the first plane behind MacArthur’s. During the Corregidor Battle, he received the Bronze Star on the recommendation of several war correspondents who observed him carrying their news stories and photographs to a PT boat while under fire from Japanese troops.

Joe and Katherine Lucille Weide were married in Kansas City on April 4, 1943, and the couple purchased two weekly newspapers in Natoma and Luray, KS. The couple’s two children, Kathy Ann and Cindy, were born during this period, and the family then purchased a weekly newspaper in Mountain Grove, MO. Unfortunately for them, however, the Korean War found Joe reactivated, and the family moved quickly to Fort Knox, KY, and then Kansas City when Joe was sent to Korea.

Upon his final discharge in 1952, the family moved to Gallatin, when Joe became partners with W.M. “Scout” Harrison in the local newspapers. Joe enjoyed a wonderful career in Gallatin for nearly half a century. The time in Gallatin provided not only a great family living environment but allowed Joe to do pioneering work in offset printing and the “central plant” where Gallatin and two other newspapers shared in the equipment to print their newspapers and up to 10 additional area newspapers.

Joe also served as president of the Gallatin Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Gallatin R-V School Board. He was president of the local industrial development authority, president of the Northwest Missouri Press Association (1960), Missouri Press Association (1975) and Democratic Editors of Missouri. Joe was a lay speaker for the United Methodist Church.
Joe served as well on the Missouri Water Resources Board, and it was his long hope that a series on dams would be built on the Grand River that would bring prosperity and tourism to the region, but this did not happen.

Joe was awarded an Honor Medal from the University of Missouri for distinguished service in journalism in 1983. In 1993, he was inducted into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame. In 1998, he received the Daughters of the American Revolution Ellen Hardin Walworth Medal for Patriotism, the first Missourian so honored.

Joe’s motto, taken from Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes was, “A man must share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.” Mr. Snyder seems to have lived up to his motto and then some! He also was always known for his love of animals, especially the family pet dachshund, Copper. Joe always said no matter how angry someone might be with him over an editorial or story, Copper was always there to greet him with a wagging tail.

In addition to his wife and daughters, Joe is survived by sons-in-law David McCarty and Wayne Stalnaker, grandchildren Molly Lawrence, Doug and Ryan Fessler and great-granchildren Sidney Fessler, Brett Fessler, Cody Camerlink and Joseph Robert Lawrence.


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