By Carol Mowdy Bond
Pat Harper Snyder, matriarch of Yukon’s iconic Snyder’s IGA fame, celebrated her 90th birthday on the evening of July 15, with a drive-by birthday party at her Spanish Cove home in Yukon. About 30 cars, filled with well-wishers, drove by to honk, wave, get out and chat, and make Pat’s birthday her best one ever. As well, Pat received at least 60 birthday cards, plus numerous floral and balloon arrangements.
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the family planned a large, indoor gathering for Pat’s big day. But, they decided on the Plan B drive-by festivities instead.
Of Pat’s four children, Jim and his wife Linda, were unable to attend. With a career in the food industry, Jim resides in Colorado with his family. But Tom and his wife Susan both made the trip from Enid, where Tom is a medical doctor. Kim Snyder Carter, a retired barber, and her husband Craig, a tax lawyer and CPA, arrived from Edmond. And Kathy Snyder Whitson drove in from Edmond with her husband Rod, who is a Vistage Chair. Pat expressed great respect for her family, and their involvement in the communities where they reside.
A GROCER’S DAUGHTER
A native of Woodward, Pat and her parents moved to Oklahoma City three weeks after her birth in 1930. Pat’s mom, Grace, was a homemaker. Pat has one sibling, Beverly Harper Kroutil Yates.
“I was born in the heart of the Great Depression,” Pat said. “In 1930, my dad, Millard Harper, a Kentucky native, moved to Oklahoma City, and he went to work with a grocer. It was the depression time. We never ever took a vacation. My childhood was very poor. We only heated one room in the house. You just didn’t get something out of the refrigerator to eat whenever you wanted to, because it might be dinner.”
After graduating from the old Classen High School in Oklahoma City, Pat moved on to the University of Oklahoma. Her dad provided both her and her sister with one year of college.
“Then I worked 40 hours a week in the dorm, and I had a scholarship. I earned a secretarial science degree,” Pat said.
A GROCER’S WIFE
Pat knew Jim Snyder in high school. After college, Jim went into the U.S. Air Force. “We didn’t date until we were both through college,” Pat said. “Jim was in the Air Force, and came home for a weekend. A friend put us together for a date. We married in 1952, and he was still in the Air Force. I worked for the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors until we married. He got out of the military, and he managed an IGA in Britton, Oklahoma. And we moved to The Village.”
“We came to Yukon in 1959,” Pat said. Jim then opened Snyder’s IGA in Yukon. “I really have a love for that original store,” Pat said. But Snyder’s IGA relocated, ending up at 6 W. Main Street on historic Route 66. And at one point, Jim owned six IGA locations in the state.
A PASSION FOR ART
“I raised four children,” Pat said. “I fed six people three meals a day.” All four children attended Yukon schools, and when they left the nest, Pat followed her passions, becoming a professional artist. “I do oil paintings. My work has been in galleries in Santa Fe and Taos,” Pat said. “I was at the Norman Wilkes Gallery for 35 years at Portland and 63rd in Oklahoma City, then the Howell Gallery at 63rd and Western, until I retired about 10 years ago.”
Her paintings line the walls of Pat’s home, giving voice to her talent and love of art. “My favorite subject matter, since youth, is portraits. I paint it all, but I especially love figurative paintings. I had the biggest show at the Omniplex 15 to 16 years ago. I had 50 paintings in the show,” Pat said.
But Pat finds her greatest pleasure, artistically speaking, by painting annual Christmas paintings. She’s done so for 30 years. “I’ve already finished the one for 2020. Some people have collected all of them,” Pat said.
With 24 great-grandchildren, 16 grandchildren, and 4 children, Pat’s quiver is full. “I love Yukon. I wouldn’t leave for anything. It’s my home, my comfort, and my joy. I love everything about it,” Pat said.