Dr. Suzanne T. Snyder, 81, passed away on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, following a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. Suzanne “Suzy” was born in Fairmont on July 25, 1939, a daughter of Mansfield Richard Thralls and Mary Gertrude Lennon Thralls. In addition to her parents, Suzanne is predeceased by her beloved son, Marcus Edward Snyder, two dear siblings, Jean Thralls Overking Snyder and Todd Thralls, and several brothers-in-law: Jennings Clayton, Michael Overking, Dr. Thomas Kent, and David Bevan.
Survivors include her daughter, Cara Lee Snyder, of Fairmont, as well as several brothers and sisters: Eleanor Thralls Clayton, of Fairmont, J. Richard Thralls (Caroline), of Front Royal, Va., Dr. John F. Thralls (Mary Jane), of Hurricane, Joan Thralls Bevan, of Warren, Ohio, Dr. Charlotte Thralls, of Kalamazoo, Mich., and one brother-in-law, Russell Snyder, of Conneaut, Ohio. Suzanne’s close family also includes several nieces and nephews whom she treasured: Brian J. Clayton (Maggie), Dr. Chad R. Thralls (Dr. Abigail), Melissa Hayes, Brian D. Bevan (Dr. Katherine), Kathryn L. Rovegno (Louis), Ian M. Overking (Arienne) and Thomas L. Kent (Mara).
Suzanne graduated from East Fairmont High School and Fairmont State College. She then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she earned an M.A. in classical rhetoric and public address. While studying at Pitt, Suzanne enjoyed her opportunities to teach in the nationality rooms in the Cathedral of Learning, the intellectual rigor of her academic studies and the chance to participate in engaging discussions in graduate student groups. Throughout her life, she was passionate about the world of ideas, and her family and students will remember her for this quality. Suzanne completed her doctorate in higher education administration at West Virginia University.
Fairmont State College (now University) was Suzanne’s academic home for 42 years. Her roles at FSC over the years included professor, theatre director, debate coach and administrator. She cherished her work with her students and debaters above all else. Yet, she was a natural leader, which drew her to contribute to the life of Fairmont State and the state of West Virginia on a broader scale as a leading figure in academic affairs and the arts. Suzanne was elected to represent Fairmont State on the Advisory Council of Faculty to the West Virginia Board of Regents which was, at that time, the higher education governing body for the state. She also served as the chair of the Advisory Council, and thus, as a member of the West Virginia Board of Regents. Suzanne also was appointed by Dr. William Simmons, chancellor of the West Virginia Board of Regents, to serve as the interim director of academic affairs for higher education in W.Va. Throughout her work as an advocate for the concerns of faculty and for public policies benefiting higher education, Suzanne enjoyed working with colleagues and administrators across the state. Attending and presenting at the American Association of Higher Education conference was something she looked forward to over several years. While her son Marcus attended Kenyon College, Suzanne enthusiastically served on the Kenyon Parents Advisory Council.
In addition to her work on assessment and academic affairs more broadly, Suzanne was a passionate and engaging leader and advocate for the arts and arts education. She concluded her academic career as chair of the School of Fine Arts, retiring in 2002. While serving in this position, Suzanne was appointed the first dean of the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. Building her teaching staff with internationally-acclaimed arts professionals based in Pennsylvania and Michigan as well as West Virginia, Suzanne introduced burgeoning high school artists in dance, music, theatre and visual art to inspiring role models and excellent arts educators. She cherished the friendships she made with the Governor’s School faculty and the wonderful creative experiences each summer with faculty and students. Suzanne cultivated strong connections and collaborations with area high school arts teachers through the Academic Alliance established through the School of Fine Arts. One outgrowth of the Alliance was the ArtSmarts program for junior high students, which Suzanne directed over several summers, working with area teachers and faculty in the School of Fine Arts.
Suzanne enjoyed participating in the life of her community beyond academics and the arts. She was a proud member of the Gamma Chi Chi sorority at FSC and continued to attend Gamma conventions as long as her health permitted. Ever civic-minded, Suzanne was a member and a sustainer in the Junior League of Fairmont. She was a proponent of public broadcasting and was pleased to serve on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Advisory Board. A member of First Baptist Church of Fairmont, Suzanne loved her church home. She was active in the church for many years, serving on several boards and committees, including a pastoral search committee, the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees. Suzanne was honored by her appointment to the planning committee for the American Baptist Churches USA annual convention in Des Moines, Iowa.
The family would like to express its great appreciation to Fitzwater’s Assisted Living, and most especially to Wendy Longwell and Chris McLaughlin, for the dedicated and thoughtful care given to Suzanne over the past five years.
Dearly loved and admired by her family and friends, Suzanne will be profoundly missed. A private family service will be held to honor her memory this week. A celebration of Suzanne’s life is being planned for a future date. The family has entrusted arrangements to Ford Funeral Home, 201 Columbia St., Fairmont, WV 26554.