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The Rev. Harold O. Snyder

November 21, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about the Rev. Harold O. Snyder, who died Nov. 12 at the age of 76. His obituary was published in the Nov. 13 edition of The Herald-Mail.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- By most accounts, Harold Snyder was a quiet man who grew up in the hills of West Virginia knowing the worth of hard work and the value of family.

This quiet and humble man chose a career in the ministry, or perhaps it chose him. Whichever it was, Harold lived a Christian life, serving as an example for all who knew him.

At the Nov. 16 celebration of his life, two of Harold's daughters, Vanessa Williamson and Michele Snyder, offered musical tributes to their father.

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Daughter Cheryl Reid spoke.

"There are children in homes without love, without food, without proper clothes to wear who wonder, 'Where is God in my life?' There are people who attend church, but feel that something is missing and wonder, 'Where is the evidence of God in our church today?' There are communities wrought with poverty and crime in which people cry out, 'Why doesn't God do something?' I've never had to ask those questions," Cheryl said. "As a small child, I knew that God lived in our house."

Harold's widow, Sue, said she knew from the first time they met that he was special. Harold apparently felt the same way about her.

"We met at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., which is a college of our Church of God denomination," Sue recalled.

Harold, who was three years older than Sue, was just back from the Korean War when he entered college on the GI Bill.

Harold walked into the dining hall one day and saw Sue across the room.

"He told everyone that you could see the tracks of his shoes on the floor where he stopped when he saw me," Sue said.

Later, the quiet farm boy from Moorefield, W.Va., got up the nerve to sit at Sue's table. They began attending campus activities together and visiting her relatives in Chattanooga, Tenn.

After they married in 1959, Sue and Harold immediately began evangelizing, which meant they traveled from church to church spreading the word of God while living in their car.

That traveling lifestyle continued until the couple's first child was on the way, prompting the couple to settle in Martinsburg. Starting in 1961, Harold and Sue served the Church of God on Pennsylvania Avenue, living in an apartment.

Two more daughters joined the family.

Except for a stint at a church they helped build in Halltown, W.Va., Harold and Sue continued their work at the Martinsburg church for many years.

When the Pennsylvania Avenue building housing that congregation became inadequate, it was sold and a new church was built on State Circle called the Living Waters Family Worship Center.

Harold retired from the church in 2000, but never from the ministry.

"He didn't like retirement," Sue said.

That was partly because of a lifetime built around hard work, God and family, said Helen Jones, Harold's older sister.

"We lived on a farm," said Helen, the oldest of 12 children. "Harold was always happy to go to church."

Younger sister Arvella Barr said Harold was a visiting pastor after he retired, something she doesn't see too many other pastors doing these days.

Growing up, Harold was like a father figure to Arvella because of their age difference.

"A truly unique individual, Harold left quite a legacy," she said.

Sue said Harold always was a devoted father.

"He looked out for them," she said.

Harold also gained a reputation for watching over other people's children, not only through his church, but in his second job as a school bus driver. He started driving school buses in 1963 and continued doing that for more than 20 years.

In remarks at her father's service, Cheryl summed up her feelings about being Harold Snyder's daughter.

"God not only lived in our house and worked in our church, he was also a part of our community," she said. "Many people in Martinsburg got a free ride, a pleasant conversation and encouragement when my father saw them walking along the road, particularly veterans who were traveling back and forth to the VA hospital in an attempt to conquer their addiction to alcohol or drugs. I knew that people in our community could get where they needed to go because God was a part of our community."

That is, Harold was an instrument of God in the community.

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