Professor Emeritus of Sociology Howard M. Snider died at his home in North Newton Aug. 2 at the age of 92. Al Meyer, then academic dean, recruited Snider to join the Bethel faculty in August 1966. Snider “retired” in 1992, but continued to teach courses both here and at other ACCK schools until 2000. Social Geography and Sociology of Religion were special interests.
In the 1970s, Snider initiated interterm seminar courses that introduced rural students to city life in Denver, Kansas City and Chicago. In a reverse of this experience, he also placed city students with local farm families.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Snider spent sabbaticals in Central America, studying transplanted Mennonites. It was a volatile time, with violence used to suppress the masses. He became interested in the success of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and presented a slide-lecture based on his observations to more than 100 groups in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Before entering the field of sociology, Snider earned a divinity degree from Goshen (Indiana) Biblical Seminary and served as founding pastor of Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, Alberta.
Snider was truly a lifelong learner who found great joy in lively discussions of ideas with friends and former students. His lifelong interest in theology came to rich fruition during the last decade of his life, as he drew on these discussions and spent countless hours writing.
He self-published three books: The Cultural Creation of Christianity (2005), Jesus or Christ (2007) and Two Gospels (2011). His final book, Knowing the Unknowable (2015), deals with Gnosticism.
Although Snider never gave up his beloved Canadian citizenship, he embraced life in Kansas.
He drew up plans for the family home, the first house built in the Sni-del Addition of North Newton. He also helped develop this addition and designed the street layout. Over the years, Snider planted hundreds of trees and shrubs in the former alfalfa field, creating an oasis on the prairie.
Snider is the father of Vada Snider ’81, a photographer and musician, and Conrad Snider ’84, an internationally known ceramic artist, both of North Newton. Snider’s wife Marie survives at home. Memorial gifts are suggested to the Howard Snider Social Sciences Scholarship Fund at Bethel.