William 'Bill' Snyder
William 'Bill' Snyder, Jr. died peacefully in his home on Wednesday evening, March 12th 2008. Bill was 78 years old. He had been struggling with Alzheimer's Disease for a number of years, but right to the end he maintained his zest for life and shared his radiant smile with everyone he met. Bill was born in Memphis, Tenn., on August 30th, 1929. He was an only child, but his older cousin "Sissy" was like a sister to him, including him in all of her many adventures. Bill's greatest childhood influence was his grandfather. He spent the summer on his grandfather's farm, and they performed theatre skits and puppet shows every evening. His time with his grandfather instilled in Bill his passion for everything to do with the theatre.
Bill received his PHD in theatre from Yale University in 1955. He then lived for 10 years in Greenwich Village in New York City. He was active in an acting school there which included the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Ulu Grossbard, and many others who would go on to fame and stardom in Hollywood and on Broadway. Bill wrote several plays, including'The Days and Nights of Beebee Fenstermaker', which ran off-Broadway for 10 months.
In 1965, Bill returned to Tennessee to teach at the University of Tennessee. He passionately shared his love for theatre with hundreds of students for 30 years. During that time he held nightly rehearsals and put on more than 300 plays! He inspired his students by teaching them to improv their part and 'become the character' before learning their lines. Bill never married or had children of his own, but several students became his lifelong friends and credit him with being the major influence in their lives.
Bill retired from teaching in 1997. In 1999 he moved to Bolinas, Calif., to be near his spiritual teachers Gangaji and Eli Jaxon-Bear. He loved living by the ocean and going to the many theaters in the Bay area. In 2005 he moved to Ashland, Ore., and thoroughly enjoyed it's rich cultural life.
Bill also loved music, and his dancing has inspired hundreds of people to get up out of their chairs and dance. He enjoyed attending the Key of C cafe's Sunday morning jam sessions, and singing with the Peace Choir. Also, he loved attending the Havurah as many Friday nights as possible. He was not born Jewish, but the Havurah services and community touched something deep in his soul.
Bill is survived by his loving dachshund, Annie, who was his constant companion wherever he went. Also, his cousin Judy Johnson, who lives in Brooklyn, NY. And by Avram and Janice Sacks, who so lovingly cared for him the last 6 years of his life.
A Memorial Service will be held at the Havurah Shir Hadash, 185 N. Mountain St., Ashland, at 7PM, Sunday, March 30th. All who knew and loved Bill are invited. Donations can be sent in Bill's Honor to the Ashland Community Hospital Memory Care Center, whose respite center was such a vital part of Bill's care, to the Havurah, or to the Gangaji Foundation.
William Snyder Jr.
William 'Bill' Snyder