Amherst Magazine
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EVAN SNYDER (1935-1983)

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Evan Snyder arrived at Amherst with a beautiful singing voice developed through years of training in the Washington (D.C.) National Cathedral Boys Choir and its affiliated St. Albans School. Music remained his great passion in college, where he was a member of the Glee Club and the DQ, also serving as the latter’s business manager. With an infectious joie de vivre he seemed a born entertainer.

George Higgins ’59, who became a life-long friend, says, “Evan was the life of the party for his whole life. Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone. It was always a joy to be with him in a social setting. Everywhere he worked, he was in demand as a guest, a friend and a colleague.”

Many expected Evan to seek a career in the entertainment industry, but the paths he took were somewhat different. He briefly worked in publishing in New York City and Rochester. Then, he returned to St. Albans School to be director of development. After that he returned to Amherst to work under Bud Hewlett from 1964-70 as Assistant Secretary of the College.

He returned to New York as associate development director at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, commuting from Darien, Conn. Afterward, he moved to Glastonbury, Conn., to start his own graphic design and publishing firm, Communiconn Publications. Its magazine, Connecticut Architect, won several industry awards.

These diverse jobs demonstrated Evan’s versatility and charisma. The publishing he did on his own, in particular, gave him creative satisfaction. Yet those years, 1959-1978, were also times of “professional restlessness,” according to Evan’s son David.

David believes that his father may have regretted never following his passion – never pursuing a career in the music-entertainment arena. “So, his abilities and instincts as an entertainer,” David says, “were relegated to cocktail parties and social events.” That’s where Evan could do what he did so well – perform.

Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone

David remembers that Evan “never forgot a lyric or a melody once he’d heard it. At one party he sang his way through Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Soliloquy’ without missing a beat. Another time, he drove all the way to our home in central Connecticut after seeing ‘Sweeney Todd’ to convey his enthusiasm and performed the entire show for me as we listened to the record. I sat enthralled by the show itself and by his presence and talent.” David followed the passion he learned from his father and chose music as his profession.

In the late ‘70s Evan’s marriage to Emmy broke up, his Connecticut business failed, and he moved back to Washington for two years and finally to Florida in 1981. He became a real estate broker and sold upscale houses around Naples. He died there at 47.

Evan’s daughter Amy Colo ’83 is a licensed midwife and prenatal massage therapist. She lives in Colorado with her two young-adult children. Son Matthew, who died in 1995, was an ordained minister in San Francisco. David lives with his wife and two boys in New Jersey, where he is a freelance musical director and orchestrator. Andrew teaches fifth grade in Connecticut. He lives in Old Lyme with his wife and two young children.

Unfortunately, Evan’s surface joy was a kind of lifelong performance. Behind it lay profound inner turmoil. The main outward expression of that turmoil was a longstanding alcoholism that eventually killed him. And behind the disease was a deep anxiety about his sexuality, which at that time was undiscussed and almost undiscussable. David says one lesson he learned from his dad’s life was “not to run away from who you are.” Evan’s friend George Higgins adds, “He just couldn’t manage it all. His kids are so sad because there was never a set of children who would have been more understanding of his struggle.”

Despite the tragic way in which he died, Evan’s humor and vitality are very much alive in those who remember him today. As George observed, “Evan never aged.”

Homer Evan Snyder died of liver disease Feb. 1, 1983.

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Evan in 1982 at his condo in Bonita Springs, Fla.,

with sons Matthew (l.) and Andrew

 

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