William A. Snedeker ’79
Deceased April 15, 2011
William Audley Snedeker – universally known as Sned – passed away on April 15 from a stroke he suffered after taking his beloved daughter, Tatiana, to school. Sned is survived by his wife of 25 years, Linda; his son, Garrett (of the Great Class of 2009); ten-year-old Tatiana; an extended family; and more friends than I will be able to collect in eight lifetimes.
Sned would want the usual stuff disposed of quickly. Born in New Jersey. Andover, class of 1975. History major; wrote a thesis about early 20th century arms control. Georgetown Law. New York City lawyer with a bunch of law firms, massive to small, before setting up his own shop within a regional firm.
What defined Sned was his devotion to family – with “family” being defined broadly to include pretty much everyone he knew. Sned was not a Facebook friend, he was the real deal. If you had troubles, he was there for you, to listen and console. If you needed help or advice, he would give you every bit of his time and attention. He celebrated others’ successes as if they were his own. Sned did not show off his smarts – there was not a shred of pretense in the man – but he was one of the best-read and most cerebral people I have known. And, of course, he was possessed of a contagious ebullience; you simply could not help but smile when Sned was around. As Jamie Brigagliano said: “There is no one, no one, who celebrated each day more than Sned.”
The stories of Sned’s revelries are, as they say, legion. I could tell you about Sned igniting some table decorations at the old Trader Vic’s in the Plaza Hotel after a few Samoan Fog Cutters. Or the time we had a “snowball” fight with a sack of dinner rolls we discovered outside a restaurant at 4:00 a.m. Or Sned crashing, and being ejected from, a very haute party -- three times. Or Sned’s smuggling, not just a flask, but glasses, ice, and mixers, into a movie theater and serving drinks throughout Blood Suckers From Outer Space (Sned’s choice, it should go without saying). Or the time we managed to get kicked out of a NYC cab. What made all of these escapades so Snedian was not only the laughter we shared, but that they all happened in one night.
Sned loved Amherst. I think he loved the College because that was where Bill became Sned. He thrived on the academic challenges. He reveled in the informal rituals that animate the place (Sned barreling down Memorial Hill on a Valentine tray was a vision of all-consuming joy). He even enjoyed the occasional snooty ceremony, in a Pythonesque sort of way (Peter Friedrichs said, “while Sned loved tradition, he wasn't traditional”). But what he mostly loved about Amherst College were the friendships he formed there, and which he made sure endured and deepened through the years. Sned was an enthusiastic DKE, but the entire College was his fraternity – he was as comfortable joking with Amherst's Presidents as he was with Officer Keyes. He was also renowned among Amherst parents. Amy Wilfert, whose daughter, Kate, is a classmate of Garrett's, wrote: "As much of a legend as he was when we were at school, he was equally so as a parent of a student. He just seemed to belong there in a way that needs no explanation to anyone who knew him." It is right, then, that his ashes are strewn about the campus of the Fairest College. As Sned would say, “So be it.”
-- Kurt Schwarz '79