To close the first Dana Point City Council meeting of 2023 on Jan. 17, Mayor Mike Frost did so in honor of a man who tirelessly served both Dana Point and San Clemente for decades.
Hank Snyder, 85, died on Dec. 20, from cardiac arrest. For decades, Snyder participated in countless local groups and community activities as part of the Dana Point Fifth Marine Regiment Support Group, the Dana Point Yacht Club, the Marine Corps League, and the San Clemente Exchange Club, among others.
His cohort and president of the Fifth Marine Support Group, Terry Rifkin, spoke at the meeting.
“I feel like our city lost a very special citizen, a very special friend,” she said. “I could always go to him for wisdom (and) mentoring. … Since we have no bricks and mortar, he allowed us to serve and work (at his Dana Point office). He will be sorely missed.”
Hank’s dedication to serving the place he called home was simply reflective of the man he was, said Barbara Snyder, his wife of 68 years. She added that he loved retaining his connection to the Marine Corps community after being a Marine for 28 years.
“He just always liked to belong to these organizations, and he always liked to be a working part of it, like the president or treasurer,” Barbara said. “That’s just the kind of person he was. I think he was community-oriented.”
Snyder’s daughter, Kelly, also said that her father knew how much it would help the families of servicemembers living near Camp Pendleton by giving his time to them and organizing fundraising events.
She called him a “generous man” who constantly wanted to give back.
His attachment to Dana Point also manifested itself over the years in that he both set up his tax business and harbored his beloved boat, The Blade Runner, in town.
Wayne Eggleston, the executive director of the Heritage of San Clemente Foundation, also spoke to Snyder’s character.
“Hank was just a special, special guy,” said Eggleston. “He was always willing to help. He was always willing to be there for the Marine Corps and the various organizations in town.”
Snyder was born in Niagara Falls, New York in 1937 and met Barbara in Boston, when he was 16 years old and Barbara was 15. The two would marry one year later.
Barbara recalled her earliest thoughts about her husband, in that he was a nice man who came from a nice family and that they got along well. Speaking to his character in general, she described Snyder as ever-upstanding, honest, and an “overall good guy.”
“You could always go to him if you had a problem, and he would help you solve it,” she said. “(He was) just a truly good guy with a good heart and a lot of wisdom.”
Snyder would be stationed at Orange County bases including the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, before coming to San Clemente and Camp Pendleton in 1976 and retiring out of Camp Pendleton in 1982.
Over the years, the Snyders would have five children: one son, David, as well as daughters Deborah, Karen, Cheryl, and Kelly.
Kelly said her father was a man of honor, integrity, and generosity, and that he lived a full life working and playing golf with friends up until the day he passed.
Hank significantly influenced his daughter to also be active in the community, participating in silent auctions for fundraisers at the San Clemente Municipal Golf Course and St. Patrick’s Day events at the Dorothy Visser Senior Center. Even in the present day, Kelly has had an eye for helping those in need around her.
For Barbara, her lasting memory of her husband is one that happened in the recent past before he got sick.
“We were going to meet somewhere and have a bite to eat and a glass of wine, and when I got there, he was waiting for me,” she said. “He had a big smile on his face, and he had one of his many hats on.”
That act of love is what Barbara said she will fondly look back on in the days to come, as she pushes forward with the loss of her lifelong love and pillar in the community.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misstated the date of Hank Snyder’s death. Hank died on Dec. 20. The previous version also incorrectly reported Wayne Eggleston as a fellow member of the Exchange Club. He is the executive director of the Heritage of San Clemente Foundation.