There was no middle ground with Jack Snyder.
You either liked him or you didn’t.
He had faults like we all do but when it came to where he stood when it involved a city issue or a community concern he didn’t try to placate anyone.
That helps explain how in his 49 years in his adopted hometown of Manteca Snyder was able to compile a long list of accomplishments from securing the original Highway 120 Bypass to launching one of the state’s most successful law enforcement support volunteer programs in the form of Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP).
Snyder passed away Tuesday at age 94. Twenty-four of those years he served on the Manteca City Council.
One doesn’t spend two months let alone 24 years in an elected position without picking up a lot of detractors along the way. Snyder had his share.
And he’d admit he wasn’t always right. But he also harbored no regrets.
Given his track record and what he did for the community that went way beyond simply sitting in judgment of city issues every other two weeks says a lot.
More than a few people thought Snyder came across as rough and too demanding. That however, wasn’t his bottom line.
Snyder was who convinced me to serve on the Boys & Girls board 27 years ago.
Worse yet, at least from the perspective of people at the time, I’m the one he convinced to become his assistant chair of his “baby” — the Boys & Girls Telethon — with the goal of me taking over eventually.
Anyone who knew Snyder knew he could be a bit rigid and demanding. He also has a clear view on how he believed things should be done.
It also rubbed off onto others who were convinced the telethon had to be done a certain way or it wouldn’t work.
My fifth year of being completely in charge we had set a goal of $120,000. It was a critical amount given we were growing, had some unanticipated expenses that year, and it accounted for a third of our budget.
Everyone, including Snyder, kept reminding me non-stop how important it was that we raise $120,000. It was a big leap as the previous year we had raised $107,000.
When the dust settled, we had reached $116,400. I was none too pleased with myself. I was cordial as I left the club that night as I headed back to the office to make sure the paper got out the next day.
But I had expressed my frustration to a few people and apparently didn’t come across as a happy camper.
The next day Snyder was at the front counter.
This was the guy who virtually demanded we needed to raise $120,000 or else. I figured I was going to get a lecture.
Instead Snyder dialed it back and put things in perspective.
He told me that it was $116,400 that the club didn’t have to help serve kids before we started. He tossed in the fact it was more than the club raised when he was in charge of the telethon so obviously changes were working.
Trying to match exacting standards that Snyder set down was also a challenge.
For years Snyder was among those who volunteered on a rotating basis to handle the money and pull tab processing for the weekly Monday night bingo games at the Boys & Girls Club. It was a madhouse with people coming in and out constantly for pull tabs and to give you money for the sales on top of the bingo card sales.
At the end of the night you had to make sure things balanced.
Rarely did it, but in most cases you ended up being within $1 to $10.
When then Club Director Chuck Crutchfield mentioned during a board meeting that we had gotten the previous Monday’s bingo receipts within $3 of balancing, Snyder spoke up and said that was not good enough.
I didn’t disagree but an hour or so after the pull tab crew went home and after they would repeatedly ignore your instructions on where to place money and signing out for pull tabs, I had called it quits because I had to get up at 6 a.m.
The next time I handled the money Snyder’s words were burning in my ears. I started at 5 p.m. The bingo games were cleared out by 9 p.m. and the clubhouse was put back for kids the next day by 11:30 p.m. Crutchfield thought I was a little bit too driven. By a little before midnight my numbers balanced out with his.
I was fairly pleased with myself. I had met Snyder’s exacting standards and made a comment to that effect.
It was until a month later that Crutchfield told me the truth. The next day he discovered an error we had made and I ended up being a dollar off. And then he told me the clincher. That was still closer than Snyder had ever come into making sense out of the mess that was the weekly bingo games.
I asked Crutchfield why he didn’t tell me that sooner.
He simply relied I was too happy at having met the challenge that Snyder tossed down at the previous board meeting that both of them knew was next to impossible to do given the circumstances.
That was classic Snyder. He’d push people to keep doing better even against unreasonable odds.
What also was classic Snyder was his gruffness.
I figured that out early on when he was overly adamant about something and finally I pushed back. After that we were fine although he wasn’t any less demanding.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying. Snyder was pushy, if you can call it that, to make sure kids had a chance to grow up right and be kids and not get into trouble.
What he did for the Boys & Girls Club and the community was a calling.
But from what I saw no matter what the Boys & Girls Club and the kids it serves were always near the front of his concerns.
He’d write a sizable check every year besides helping raise funds. When things got rough financially, Snyder would kick in more or take steps to make sure the club got through the rough spot. He wasn’t the only one by far, but Snyder seemed to take it to the next level.
Several weeks ago after getting out of the hospital he dropped by the club to drop off some things for the kids. The club and the kids it helps were always on his mind right to the end.,
My favorite encounters with him in recent years were those when he and Barbara would drive around town in his Chevy Trailblazer checking on changes taking place in Manteca and he’s come across me jogging.”
He would always deliver one line zingers as he slowly drove by, often including a pointed one liner such as for me to “pick up the pace as I was beginning to jog like an old man.
It was classic Snyder.
And no matter how you judge him, I can say without a doubt his presence on earth made this world a better place.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com