In the new series Memories of Mainers, the obituary department reaches out to families that have placed obituaries to learn and share more memories about the people who made this state unforgettable. This is the first in the series.
Patricia J. Snyder, born in Caribou in 1930, and Clarence R. Snyder Jr., born in Bangor in 1927, left this life within hours of each other on Sept. 14 and Sept. 15, respectively. The couple were remembered on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Bangor, where the Snyder family gathered to say goodbye and receive a U.S. flag presented by the U.S. Navy honor guard.
The pair met during the summer of 1948 at Pushaw Pond, Maine, when Patricia’s friend — who happened to also be Clarence Jr.’s cousin — introduced the couple for the first time. But ironically, Pat and Clarence Jr.’s love story began before that fateful day.
The couple’s son, Clarence III, learned from his mother while she was in the VA Hospital in Bangor that the two had previously lived across the street from one another, but had never met. Clarence Jr., back from World War II, was finishing his education at Bangor High School. Patricia, meanwhile, was working in retail. After meeting for the first time, they were both smitten and became inseparable. On February 19, 1949, at St. John’s Church in Bangor, Patricia and Clarence Jr. said their vows.
The young veteran, in need of money, found himself doing all aspects of construction with the aid of “do it yourself” books. During his time abroad in World World II, he had been a member of the Seabees, also known as the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions (CBs). He learned how to build houses in places such as Guam, where housing was needed as the war focused on Japan.
The first house Clarence Jr. built for his family was a four bedroom home on Essex Street, within walking distance to the high school, where both he and Pat were employed at the time. Later projects included a split level home on Mann Hill and a ranch-style home near Husson.
Clarence Jr. was employed for 20 years with the Bangor schools as a maintenance supervisor. He and “his kids” would roll out the cable for the scoreboard at football games on Garland Street. They were his “family” too. One of his favorite memories, while working at the old Bangor High School on Harlow Street, was that he allowed a student, William Cohen, to use his office to study. Years later, the former defense secretary visited with him on Swan’s Island, and acknowledged him during a parade in downtown Bangor. Clarence Jr. was also a Cub Scout Leader, with Bangor politician Tom Sawyer as a member of his troop in 1959.
Meanwhile, Patricia prepared and served food at the Bangor High School cafeteria, where she could keep an eye on her older children. They did not get away with much. When they were younger, she introduced them to ice skating at Frog Pond behind Mary Snow School, and they enjoyed the Broadway Park, where played softball and kickball.
In 1971, Pat completed her psychiatric aide training. She retired from the Bangor Mental Health Institute, but remained concerned about those who needed help. Her son Lew remembers her saying, “These patients were once institutionalized for one reason or another, and were left to fend for themselves”. It was her request that contributions be made to the Bangor Homeless Shelter in her memory.
Pat’s other great passion was taking on the role of matchmaker. One of her greatest success stories is her own son, Lew, who she introduced to Deb, the daughter of close friends of the Snyders. She was hardworking, engaging and always smiling, and Pat jumped at the opportunity to arrange an introduction. Thanks to Pat’s intuition, Deb and Lew have been happily married for several years.
More important than finding other peoples’ perfect matches, Pat and Clarence Jr. spent their lives being an example of one for each other.
“Dad was always calm and relaxed in the most difficult situations. He left the running of the home to mom. They supported each other and were united in their decisions,” Clarence III said. “It only became clear to us in their later years, not only how much they loved each other, but, how much they depended and supported each other.”
That love and support is why ultimately, their ending was no surprise to those who knew them best.
“For them to pass within less than 24 hours of each other, this was a fitting end to their story,” Clarence II said. “It was somewhat amusing in the end, to think that Mom was encouraging Dad to come join her. We can just hear her now, “Come on Clarence, time to go…”