The Rev. Dr. Walstein W. "Wally" Snyder '45, whose leadership of Elon Homes for Children transformed a generation of children, died Aug. 29, at his home in Burlington.
Snyder enrolled at Elon on the advice of his close friend and mentor, the late Rev. Dr. William J. Andes ’35. Upon graduating from Elon in 1945, Snyder went on to receive a divinity degree from Duke University and an honorary doctor of Divinity degree from Elon in 1964. Over the next two decades, he served as a pastor in United Church of Christ parishes in North Carolina’s Alamance, Caswell and Orange counties, as well as in Chesapeake, Va.
In 1960, Snyder returned to Elon College, N.C., to become chief executive officer of Elon Homes for Children. During his 30-year tenure, Elon Homes became the first agency to be accredited by the National Association of Homes for Children and established satellite campuses in Charlotte, N.C., and Suffolk, Va. Snyder and his wife, the late Nell Mann Snyder ’47, worked diligently ensure that the doors of Elon Homes remained open and that an excellent staff delivered quality education to the children.
Elon named Snyder its 1981 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, and in 1984, Gov. Jim Hunt awarded Snyder the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor granted in North Carolina. Snyder retired as CEO of Elon Homes in 1990 but remained the organization’s president emeritus until 2000. In 2007, the Elon campus of Elon Homes was renamed the Walstein W. Snyder Campus. That same year, the Snyder Room in Elon University’s Johnston Hall – which served as Snyder’s office when the building was part of the Elon Homes campus – was named in his honor. In 2009, Snyder received the university’s Service to Church and Society Award.
A dedicated supporter of his alma mater, Snyder served on Elon’s National Alumni Executive Board and The Elon Society Executive Committee, and was a member of the Order of the Oak, Elon’s planned giving society. In addition, he established the Walstein W. and Nell M. Snyder Endowed Scholarship in memory of his wife.
Survivors include his son, Wesley Snyder and wife Donna of Virginia Beach, VA; two daughters, Elia Ann Snyder Moser and husband Larry of Burlington and Rita Dale Snyder of Greensboro; eight grandchildren, Lori Snyder Aycock and husband Trey, Ryan Snyder, Morgan Elizabeth Snyder, Andrew Snyder, Emily Moser Johnson and husband D.J., Neil Moser and wife Marsha, Evan Moser and Julie Kenney Zarecor; six great grandchildren; his sister, Janice Dovel and husband Oswell; a loving companion, Beth Schmidt; and Becky and Barry Brasloff.
Visitation will be Thursday, Sept. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rich and Thompson Funeral Home, 306 Glenwood Ave, Burlington. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m., Friday, Sept. 2, at the Elon Community Church. A private graveside burial service will follow the funeral.
Memorial donations can be made in Rev. Snyder’s honor to Elon University, 2600 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244; and/or the Elon Community Church, 271 N. Williamson Ave., Elon, NC 27244.