Richard K. Snyder, who practiced law in New Haven for 45 years, died peacefully in his home on Saturday, January 23 at age 85, having achieved his final wish, to live long enough to witness Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Dick, as he was known to his family and friends, was born August 31, 1935 to Emily and Allen Snyder. He grew up in central New York and attended college at the University of Michigan, majoring in English. During his senior year he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Daily, and his editorials caught the eye of a local pastor, who nominated him for a Rockefeller Brothers fellowship to consider the parish ministry. Although Dick had intended to go directly to law school, he accepted this fellowship and spent two years at Harvard Divinity School followed by an internship year working for the Philadelphia Council of Churches before deciding that he could better serve as a lawyer than as a parish minister.
Upon graduation from the University Michigan Law School, Dick came to New Haven in 1964 “to keep the Yalies honest,” as he often said, and worked as an Associate and then a Partner at Gumbart, Corbin, Tyler, and Cooper (later Tyler, Cooper, and Alcorn). He left the firm in 1981 to open a solo practice in trusts and estates, in which he sometimes served three generations of a single family. In later years he worked closely with his protégé and colleague, Ingi-Mai Loorand, moving with her to help establish Reid and Riege’s trusts and estates practice in New Haven. In addition to membership in the Connecticut Bar, he was made a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) in 1978 and admitted as an Attorney and Counselor of the United States Supreme Court in 2002. In 2019 he proudly announced that 55 years after passing his bar exam, he had just passed his online bartender’s exam.
Among his many activities in the community, one might single out his incorporation of Christian Community Action, an association of Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy and lay people to provide emergency shelter, and his founding and first presidency of East Rock Village, which grew to become HomeHaven, an organization that enables seniors to grow older in their own homes and neighborhoods. He also served on the Board of Stewards of United Church on the Green and as President of the Quinnipiack Club. He was an Associate Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College.
Dick was a passionate traveler; beginning in 1968 he made many trips to Europe with his wife Kerala, whose work as a music historian frequently took her to Germany, Sweden, and Italy. They also visited Egypt, India, and South America, and celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2008 by driving their camper van to Alaska and back. Upon their return, he said that anyone contemplating marriage might consider doing likewise as a way of learning to live together in a very small space. He loved to tell stories, all drawn from his life experiences, filled with intricate detail and bits of dialogue. His favorite one concerned a delightful encounter with Diane Keaton, who was seated at the next table at a trattoria in Rome during the filming of The Young Pope. He told that story so many times that he received an ultimatum that he could not tell it again until he boosted the cable service to be able to watch the movie on HBO. He had a great sense of humor and particularly enjoyed political satire, especially Andy Borowitz and the late-night comics. He would have been delighted to learn from Borowitz’s recent dispatch that Biden had restored the Obama-era spelling rules.
Dick is survived by his sister Mary Lynn, his sister-in-law Michele, his wife Kerala, his daughters Nancy Lee and Sara, his son Christopher, his nephews Derek and Matthew, nieces Krista, Kim, and Jessica, seven grand-nieces and nephews, and two goddaughters, Caroline and Samantha. His brother Bob predeceased him. A celebration of Dick’s life will be held at United Church on the Green when it once again becomes possible to travel, to sing together, and to enjoy a good party afterwards. Contributions in his memory may be made to Christian Community Action, Home Haven, United Church on the Green, or to the Richard and Kerala Snyder fund at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Arrangements are with the Hawley Lincoln Memorial, 424 Elm St. New Haven.
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