Howard Mervin Snider, 92, Bethel College Professor Emeritus, died at his North Newton home on Sunday, Aug. 2. He was born on March 19, 1923, in Guernsey, Saskatchewan, to Clemens and Samantha (Biehn) Snider. He had two older sisters and a younger brother.
The family farm was a substation in the experimental farm system of the Canadian Department of Agriculture. It was located a half-mile from Waterloo School on one side and a half-mile from Sharon Mennonite Church on the other. Religion and education have been dominant themes throughout Howard’s life.
He finished high school at Rosthern (Sask.) Academy in 1942 and went back to the farm.
In the mid-1940s, he did his alternative service in northern Saskatchewan and in Moose Jaw. That was followed by a short term of study at Canadian Bible Institute in Regina.
After several years of working on farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Howard attended Eastern Mennonite College, Harrisonburg, Va. in 1948-1949.
Once back in his home community, he purchased a farm and was ordained minister in the Sharon Mennonite Church in 1950. Then in the fall of 1953, he went to Goshen (Ind.) College to complete college and attend seminary. Here he met Marie Gingerich from Lowville, New York, and they were married Nov. 27, 1954. The next year, Howard took a break from seminary to write adult Sunday School curriculum at the Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pa.
In 1957, both Howard and Marie graduated from Goshen Biblical Seminary and moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where Howard became pastor of the newly formed Holyrood Mennonite Church. Prior to moving to Edmonton, Howard helped design the church building and included an apartment for the pastor’s family. Many university students attended the church – students that became life-long friends. Children Vada and Conrad were born in Edmonton.
Also, while in Edmonton, Howard followed his second dream. He prepared for college teaching and earned a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Alberta. Then, after a brief stint as regional pastor for Mennonite university students in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, he and his family moved to North Newton, Kansas in 1966. Howard taught at Bethel College for almost 30 years. Once here, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
Throughout the Bethel years, Howard’s life consisted of more than academics. He helped design and develop the Sni-Del addition in North Newton (Regal Crescent area). And in 1970, he designed the first home in the addition, where he resided until his death. Howard maintained a ham radio station and helped with communication for Kansas-Paraguay Partners. Together with his brother-in-law Jim Gingerich, he developed and managed the Regal Manor Apartments in North Newton.
Howard was always physically active, loved hard work and had a terrific sense of balance. Through his 88th year, he was climbing tall ladders to trim trees and walking around on rooftops cleaning out gutters. Until two weeks before his death, he and Marie made almost daily trips to the Kidron-Bethel exercise room to work out.
A great lover of nature, Howard enjoyed camping and picnicing with family and friends. Throughout his life, he planted trees and bushes. Thousands of them!
He traveled widely, including multiple trips across the United States and Canada, as well as study trips to South and Central America and the Caribbean. He joined the family in annual trips to Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp in the summer. And, until age 78, went skiing with a friend each winter.
He and Marie developed many friends with whom they square danced and still played mah jongg, bridge, pinochle and rook. Bethel College Mennonite Church, including a wonderful group of friends in the Catacombs Sunday School class, has always been at the center of Howard’s life in Kansas.
And for those of you younger than 90, take note – Howard said the past decade has been the most creative! He loved discussing ideas with his college roomate Merrill Raber and the many former students who came to visit him.
Based on his life-long interest in sociology of religion and honed by these discussions, he authored four books about theology since retirement. Productive to the end, his last book will be published this month.
Howard is survived by his wife Marie; daughter Vada Snider of North Newton; son Conrad Snider of Newton; brother and sister-in-law James and Roberta Gingerich of Moundridge; sister-in-law Agnes Snider of Red Deer Alberta; and nieces and nephews: Janet Bowman, Edith Shantz, Dorothy Peterson and Ruth Deyarmond from Ontario; Lynette Allen, Kara Revel and Darwin Gingerich from Kansas; Brian Snider from British Columbia and other nieces and nephews from Alberta and Saskatchewan; four-leggeds Amber and George; and many close friends.
He is predeceased by his siblings Verda Weber, Elva Heintz and Orval Snider.
Memorial service will be at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 17, at Bethel College Mennonite Church. Visitation with the family will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at Kidron-Bethel Community Room.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the Howard Snider Social Science Scholarship Fund at Bethel College or to Bethel College Mennonite Church in care of Petersen Funeral Home 215 North Main Newton, Kansas 67114