Monday, October 15, 2012

Remembering Sid Snyder

I first got word of Sid Snyder's passing Sunday night from Facebook friends in the know, and by Monday morning the news sites had the story. The former state senator and majority leader had passed away at 86.

I was fortunate enough to work with and for Sid at the Washington State Senate during the 90s. There are probably at least 127 million stories about Sid, starting from his humble beginnings as an elevator operator through the time when he was one of the more capable and powerful leaders in the state. Most of the accounts of his death (this one from the Aberdeen Daily World is more in-depth than most I've found) mention the time in 1997 that he quit in a huff because the opposition party wanted to change the rules in the middle of the game.

That's the first story I thought of, too. It was great political theatre, and by most accounts it was a genuine response to the situation. The "quit" didn't stick; either his legislative assistant never submitted his resignation letter, or the governor did a return-to-sender. In any case, Sen. Snyder was back at his desk within a week or so. Here's a link to that story from

When I worked for the Washington State Senate I recorded
all of the floor speeches in case some radio station needed
the audio for their newscasts. This one, with the scribble
"Sid Quits", was so memorable I held onto it. I only wish I
had a machine that would play it. We used to get all of our
music this way, kids!
I felt certain I had a video of his great resignation speech; I recall him thundering, "This is a travesty!!" It turns out I don't, and TVW online archives only go back to 1998. I do have an audio recording. It's on a cassette, and it turns out that I no longer have a machine in the house that will play it! There's one in our car, a 2007 Acura TL with an XM radio, a jack for the MP3 player, a CD player, and a cassette deck the punk fine young man who sold us the vehicle said was there "for old business guys." Well, guilty as charged. I have a bunch of stuff on reel-to-reel, too (including an unbleeped version of Tommy Lasorda's what-did-you-think-of-Kingman's-performance tirade), and some old radio carts. Might have to hit eBay or the antique stores to find some players!

Anyhow, my personal favorite Sid story happened perhaps five or six years ago, maybe a little more than that. My sweetie, the official scorer, and I often spend quality away time at the Shelburne Inn in Seaview, Washington, which as it turns out is right across the street from Sid's Market, a grocery store owned for many years by Snyder. On this particular visit, I popped across the street for some provision or other. It was after dark as I recall, and yet there was a familiar, 80-ish man restocking the vegetable oil shelf. As I approached I observed that, "They've got you working late tonight, sonny!"  Sid and I ended up chatting for about 45 minutes, right there by the shortening. He knew every customer who passed by, and for most of them had a story about how he'd torn up the family's tab when jobs were scarce or some such act of kindness. Sid said he'd been considering selling the store, but thought he might wait until a couple of his managers, who'd been on board for decades, decided to retire.

That's what you need to know about Sid Snyder: a kind and generous soul, a fantastic raconteur, a great employer, and a tremendous asset to his town and his state. I feel fortunate to have known him, and send my deepest sympathies to his wife (61 years!) Bette, his family, and everyone whose life he touched. That's most of us.

Godspeed, Senator Snyder. If they use Robert's Rules in heaven, they'd better be on their toes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So sorry you lost a great man and mentor....birds of a feather and "all that jazz"

Happy Trails, Sid...