David Snyder: To a Tough and Gentle Father

Four generations of Snyder men; the author at far left, his father at far right

My Dad, now there’s a tough one.  Not that it’s tough to talk about my Dad, but rather the man himself.  The kind of Dad who could give you that look when you were a kid, the one that needed no words to get across what he meant – the same look I think I now give my kids, intentionally or unaware.  I have found as I’ve gotten older that, although my appearance has clearly swayed toward my Mom’s side, my personality and character have come from my Dad.  I notice more and more as each year passes by.  I even followed in his footsteps professionally, although my career has changed, while his has remained the same. 

My Dad was born in small town Ohio to a lifelong worker at Anchor Hocking in Lancaster.  And if I think my Dad is tough – he’s got nothing on my Grandfather, who was so tough, he lived until he was 101 years old.  It seems that the women in our lives have the tendency to soften their men.  My Grandmother was a wonderful woman and she did the best she could.  My Mom, herself a wonderful woman, has clearly had an impact on my Dad (one for which her children are grateful), and I most definitely see that my wife has done the same for me.  That toughness, the stubbornness, the steely exterior seems to ease with each generation.  Our wives may disagree, but I think it is true. 

My Dad found his way to Ohio State, where he met my Mom, and then to law school at the University of Cincinnati.  Graduated in 1964 and has been practicing law ever since.  Still today, he makes his way to the office a few times a week, although he’d rather be spending time with his grandchildren, which he does whenever he can.  His legal career has been marked by two stages.  First, as a founding member of a small law firm for 20 years and for the past 26 years, with a successful solo practice, working as an old school General Practitioner (and there aren’t many of them left around).  You name it, if it’s not Criminal or Divorce, and he can help you out.  His law practice is marked by his integrity, his honesty, his hard work and his willingness to do what needs to get done (never doing it half-assed, as we heard growing up as kids in my family).  I never heard anyone ever talk badly or critically about my Dad’s law practice. He just did good solid work, the kind his clients needed.  

I never realized until my adult life, how hard my Dad worked.  When you grow up not wanting for anything, you don’t always see the hard work, but looking at where my parents are today, I know what it must have took to get there.  That has always amazed me, because he went about his job without much fanfare.  Just a humble practice in support of his family.  And it wasn’t just work – my Dad spent many hours, weeks, doing service outside of his career.   Just to mention a few, years and years on our Temple Board of Trustees, including a term as President of the congregation, President of the Cincinnati Reform Jewish High School – a joint project by the 4 Reform Jewish congregations in Cincinnati – one of the first of its kind in the country back when it started in the early 1980’s, and free legal services for local law enforcement.  And through all of this, he set a model for how to blend career, family and service together, one that I try to emulate as best I can. 

Now I said my Dad was tough, but that’s just on the outside – really deep down he has compassion and kindness and this incredible desire to provide for his family.  Whenever there was a need growing up or even as adults, Dad is there to help (and my brothers would most certainly agree).  And having grandchildren has really softened him up.  There is nothing he would rather do today than spend time with his 6 grandchildren.  If they want it, he provides.  And I mean it – from riding roller coasters to various sports venues, to simple babysitting – he does it all.  Really no different than when I was a kid growing up, but now I can see it through a parent’s eyes and truly appreciate it.     

Of course, no praise of my Dad can be made without mention of my Mom.  As I mentioned, the women in the lives of Snyder men must have some magical power to deal with the tough, stubborn side that we all exhibit.  Not an easy task, one at which my Mom has excelled.  She definitely has earned some of the credit for what is written above. 

So on this Father’s day, I can offer this simple tribute, to a man who has never sought the limelight, never asked for praise, and never required anything in return.  We can all use a little of that humility, that example of a how to do a hard day’s work, that deep sense of pride in family.  My Dad, now there’s a tough one – but I know otherwise. 

To my Dad, Richard Snyder – go out to the links and shoot your age! Happy Father’s Day – I love you.

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