By Conrad Dudderar
Family and friends will remember Pat Snyder at a celebration of life service this Friday afternoon in Yukon.
The Yukon artist, benefactor and civic leader died March 23 at age 91. She was wife of Yukon grocery store legend Jim Snyder Sr.
Yukon dance studio owner Debra (Yanda) Vossen shared her fond memories of Pat Snyder.
Vossen first knew Snyder as the mother of her Yukon classmates, Jim Jr. and Tom.
“Tom and I graduated the same year from Yukon High School,” Vossen said. “Later on, I got to know Pat better when I joined the Yukon Art League. I was one of the youngest members when I joined the art league, in my ‘20s.
“I always admired Pat for her graciousness and kindness, and how she carried herself. Of course, Pat’s talent as an artist was amazing. I kept every Christmas card that she sent.”
For many years, the art league supported arts and culture in the Yukon community.
“I looked up to all of those women – like Iva Mae Tredway, Melota Orr, Donelda Wheatley, Ernestine Limestall, and Pat Snyder,” Vossen shared.
She and Snyder also were members of the Old Central Culture Council in Yukon.
“Pat and I served on several committee together,” Vossen added. “We both had that love of promoting the arts.”
In the ‘90s, Snyder chaired the first Yukon Museum and Arts Center gala at 601 Oak.
“That turned out to be such a beautiful event,” Vossen recalled. “Pat arranged for then-Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin to give a speech, for Scott Springfield to provide entertainment and to have some dignitaries attend from the Oklahoma Arts Council.
“Pat also had such wonderful Christmas parties at her house.”
Snyder was a major supporter of Yukon’s ballet, including the annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
“Pat and Joyce Bellmon painted the first snow scene for the Nutcracker in 1994 at the Yukon Museum and Arts Center,” said Vossen, artistic director for Central Oklahoma Ballet Company. “We couldn’t get a backdrop because the stage was so small. We just put all these pieces together and then they painted one. It was beautiful!”
Around 2000, Snyder’s influence with Yukon Public Schools’ officials helped Central Oklahoma Ballet secure the Yukon Fine Arts Center auditorium for its Nutcracker production. Yukon’s Nutcracker has been presented at this spacious venue each December ever since.
Snyder regularly attended the Yukon Nutcracker’s holiday performances and fund-raisers for Central Oklahoma Ballet.
“Every time I would see Pat in public, I would look at her and say to myself, ‘When I get older, I want to be like that’,” Vossen shared. “With her character, style and the way she dressed, Pat was one of those people you looked up. She always set a grand example.
“Everything she did was top-notch.”
Sharing more glowing sentiments was another longtime Yukon resident, Irene McAlister. She and her husband Ken had the blessing of being on Pat Snyder’s Christmas card list each year.
“And in that card, we could see the virtue that led her thinking, her heart, her paint, brushes, and strokes,” McAlister said. “There was first her faith – the Baby Christ Child was always bathed in radiant light, the center of her picture.
“Second – there was parental love so warmly depicted, Mother and Child, Earthly Father and Child. There were hands that held and caressed and cared for. These spoke of her love for her family, the tenderness with which she mothered her children.”
The McAlister family has owned and operated Conrad Marr Drug in Yukon for about 60 years.
For about 20 of those years, the Snyder’s grocery store and Conrad Marr Drug were neighbors in Town Plaza Shopping Center (now Old Mill Plaza).
Irene McAlister remembers Pat Snyder as a gentle woman, one with a smile and “twinkle in her eyes” that would warm any conversation.