The writer is superintendent at Voorheesville Central School District. Her husband, James Snyder, passed away Feb. 28. This article originally ran on the district’s website.
I want to thank everyone in the community for their patience and for their support during these past few months as my husband endured a brutal, but mercifully brief battle with cancer. In his final illness, I have been frequently distracted, and I thank my administrative team and the faculty and staff for pulling together to keep this ship moving forward. I thank the Board for understanding that my mind was frequently elsewhere.
All that said, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about what I learned from forty years of being with my best friend. My husband, Jim, was a kind, gentle soul — a simple man who loved simple things: our family, his dogs, our neighbors and friends, and thousands of children and young adults whom he met while running first Big Brothers and Big Sisters and later the Siena Mentoring program, which matched Siena students to urban youngsters from Albany. He was involved for close to fifty years, beginning back in the Civil Rights era, working with Fr. Peter Young and Bishop Howard Hubbard, who was then known as the street priest in Albany. During this close to half century, literally thousands of youngsters grew up in the program, which included a summer camp at Siena, staffed by the “Bigs” from the Siena community.
He was a quiet unassuming man, with a ready smile and a passion for justice and opportunity. Because of his relentless pursuit of opportunity, dozens and dozens of children matured through the program, obtained college degrees and careers and made lives better for themselves and their own families.
The response to his life’s work was so obvious in the difficult days of his wake and funeral. Indeed, the amazing outpouring of gratitude and affection made those painful days bearable.