Tuesday, February 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 Don B. Snyder (1918-2012)

Climbing My Family Tree: Don B Snyder (1818-2012)

When I was young my Mom would talk about family members from when she was younger. I remember her talking about "Uncle Don in the Army & Uncle Don in the Navy" in WWII. This is "Uncle Don in the Army."

Don B. Snyder was my grand-uncle, my grandfather's youngest brother. I decided to write about him this week because I'd been adding transcriptions of newspaper articles to my Ancestrydotcom tree this weekend and he has, by far, the most newspaper articles written about him. He had an exciting young life; he may have had an exciting later life too but I don't really know much about that because he moved out of town and stopped making the local paper!

Don was born May 15, 1918 to Philip (age 36) and Pauline (age 27) [Bailey] Snyder; he was the youngest of their five children: Clarence (1910-1884); Christina (1912-1942); Phyllis (1914-2005); Paul (1916-1975) and Donald (1918-2012). He grew up in Findlay Ohio.

In 1935, when he was 17, he started boxing as a featherweight on the local circuit for boxing shows held in V.F.W. club arenas and American Legion Halls. He fought in 3- and 6-round bouts with other local amateurs. The local press said he displayed "a lot of ability and promise" and "handled himself capably". [1] By 1938 and 1939, he had grown into that promise and was headlining fights and competing (& winning) in Ohio Golden Gloves tournaments. Most of the articles I found were describing who was fighting whom and where the impending bout was to take place, and Don was frequently a headline draw for the night's event. But one time his victory was written up with a 7-column large headline!

Don Snyder, the 128 pound rubber man, bounced in and out and all over the ring, as he gave Joe Apel, Bowling Green junior lightweight, a terrific lacing in the main six-round go at the V.F.W. club's arena last night before a crowded house.
Apel, a half head taller and 7 pounds heavier, was dropped to the canvas eight times under Snyder's furious two-fisted assault, but the game and courageous Bowling Green battler was still on his feet at the finish.
The rubber man's thudding lefts and rights floored Apel in the first and fourth, twice in the fifth, and four times in the last two-minute session. The bell clanged as he hit the resin in the fourth. With two or three exceptions, Apel took nine counts before regaining his feet. The bout, Snyder's fourth straight victory in as many appearances at the club, was easily the most spectacular of any he has fought before the fistic followers." 

As you see by this time in 1938 he was being called "the rubber man"; that was not a description of his boxing skills but because he was working as a laborer for the Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in Findlay, OH. In 1938 he also joined the National Guard (Company C, 148th Infantry, Ohio National Guard).  There are long stories in the local paper describing Company C's annual 15-day summer field training, usually at Camp Perry in northern Ohio, but in 1940 in the Wisconsin woods, along with several regular Army Units. The articles always listed every man participating: Don advancing from Private to Private First Class to Corporal.

On October 21, 1940, he  and his guard unit were mobilized into active duty with the regular Army and deployed to Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg Mississippi for where the 148th Infantry, as part of the 37th Division, began a long  training program designed to make it one of the best fighting units in the country. After 16 months of rigorous training, the unit moved to Indiantown Gap and finished off its pre-embarkation training designed for European service. At the end of March 1942, Sgt. Don B. Snyder transferred from Indian Town Gap, PA to Ft. Benning GA for a three-month officer training course.

On September 8, 1942, Don's older sister, Christine (Snyder) Bunts, was killed in a car crash. He was still assigned to Ft. Benning then.  I couldn't tell if he was allowed to come home for the funeral. He was deployed overseas to the Pacific Theatre in November 1942. 

When he entered regular Army service he was single, but he married to Ardyth Lucille Ebersole (daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Virgil Ebersole of Arcadia, OH) while he was serving. I don't have a date for that. I did find a newspaper article announcing the birth of Don & Ardyth's son Philip Ardon (I think they combine Ardith & Don for the middle name) on January 5th, 1943. Staff Sergeant Don Snyder arrived home that day from Camp Carrabelle FL (Army Amphibious Training Center) for a 10-day furlough.

At some point, Don (probably when he went for Officers training when the rest of his unit was deployed to the South Pacific) was transferred from the 148th Infantry, 37th Division, to the 151st Infantry, 38th Division, later known as "The Avengers of Bataan". Don Snyder took part in the battle that won the 38th Infantry that title. The Findlay Republican Courier, wrote his part up as follows, on 16 April 1945:

"Despite Japanese mortar and sniper fire, Technical Sergeant Don B Snyder, of Findlay, leading a platoon of the 151st Infantry, 38thDivision, maintained a continuous supply line to the front in the battle of Zig Zag pass on Bataan. There were no beaten trails through the jungle-like thickets but the platoon was able to keep the supplies moving. Tech. Sgt. Snyder is the son of Mr. & Mrs. Philip Snyder and the husband of the former Ardyce Ebersole of Arcadia. He was a well-known boxer prior to entering the Army and has continued winning numerous titles while in service. Overseas 15 months he now holds the Combat Infantry Badge, the American Defense ribbon, and [?] Pacific and Phillipine Liberation ribbons with two campaign stars."
38th Infantry Division- Avengers of Bataan, image bought from Veteran Graphic
Image bought from Veteran Graphics

In 1945 he was sent home in a plane on leave because he had been shot in the leg. His left leg is in a cast in the below photograph. Don is on the left, Paul in the middle and Clarence on the right.

Climbing My Family Tree: Don, Paul, and Clarence Snyder 1945
Click to make bigger

Don seems to have had problems in his marriage in the years after the war as he filed for divorce April 2, 1947. She counter-filed on August 30, 1947, and was granted the divorce on December 30, 1947. However, apparently, they got back together later because their daughter, Cathryn Adele, was born in October 1949.

After returning to work for Cooper Tire and Rubber after the war, Don became active in the union, initially Findlay Local 207, United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers of America, CIO,  becoming President of the first union in the plant, and being re-elected President after it became the Findlay Local 207, United Rubber Workers of America, CIO. He was also named to the District Executive Board of the United Rubber Workers of America, and represented the union at National Conferences in Omaha NE and Buffalo NY. During that period he also spoke up on behalf of local civic employees, such as the police and firefighters, when they were seeking raises from the city. After he was no longer president of the union, he continued to serve as the chief steward during contract negotiations in 1950.

Someplace between 1950 and 1959 Don moved to Temperance Michigan, as he was living there at the time of his parents 50th Wedding anniversary on March 6, 1959.In Temperance, he became a barber. He was a barber for 30 years, first in Michigan, and later in Toledo, Ohio, and later still, in or near Yankeetown, Florida.

On March 31, 1960, Don married Mrs. Florence Kay (Fry) Crider, of Findlay. The bride wore a navy taffeta dress with white accents and a white orchid corsage. Attendants were Mrs. Bethany Brandenberry, sister of the bride, and Philip Ardon, of Temperance Michigan (Don's son). After a short honeymoon, the couple moved to Toledo, Ohio.  

At some point, they moved to Florida, where Florence died on February 11, 1981. After her death, he moved back to Toledo and retired.

In approximately 1983 he married Florence Zumbrunn-Snyder. Although the marriage was dissolved about a year later on 4 January 1984, according to all the relatives who have talked to me or written me about it, they remained very close for the rest of his life.He lived thirty years longer and died on January 12, 2012. His obituary said that he was survived by his son, Phillip A. Snyder of San Francisco; daughter, Kathryn Gonzalez of Florida; step-children, Cynthia Tutak, Pamela Criger, Denise Naibor and Richard Criger; two grandchildren; 9 step-grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. 

Don's obituary said he was a member of the Disabled American Veterans and a 30-year member of the National Speleological Caving Society. His main hobby was exploring non-commercial caves, mostly in Kentucky. It also said that he deeply appreciated the care given to him by his stepdaughter, Cynthia Tutak and his dearest friend Florence Snyder.

For future research: I need to find something establishing marriage dates for the marriages to Ardyth Ebersole and Florence Zumbrunn; perhaps a copy of the divorce decrees; and much more information to fill in the large blank spaces I have in his life after 1960.

Other Related Posts (links):

Federal Censuses: 1920, 1930, 1940

NewspaperArchive.com: 12 February 1935 Findlay Republican Courier p. 9; 18 April 1935 Findlay Republican Courier p. 11; 15 April 1938 Findlay Republican Courier p. 10; 16 July 1938 Findlay Republican Courier p. 2; 30 June 1939 Findlay Republican Courier, p. 5; 9 August 1940 Findlay Republican Courier, p. 13; 21 October 1940 Findlay Republican Courier, p. 2;31 March 1942 Findlay Republican Courier p. 12;6 January 1943  Findlay Republican Courier p. 6 ; 16 April 1945  Findlay Republican Courier p. 11;   2 April 1947 Findlay Republican Courier. p. 16; 30 August 1947 Findlay Republican Courier p. 7; 3 0 December 1947 Findlay Republican Courier p. 3; 21 October 1949 Findlay Republican Courier p. 10; 2 April 1960 Findlay Republican Courier p. 9; 3 February 1948 Findlay Republican Courier p. 6; 11 March 1948 Findlay Republican Courier p.9; 15 May 1948 Findlay Republican Courier, p. 18; 3 August 1948 Findlay Republican Courier p. 16; 30 September 1948 Findlay Republican Courier, p. 2; 16 Feb 1950 Findlay Republican Courier p. 9 (I've more articles transcribed on Ancestry Tree. These are just the ones that informed this post.)

Obituary, Toledo Blade January 14, 2012.; Found (by my cousin, Kevin Rainey) at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/toledoblade/obituary.aspx?n=don-b-snyder&pid=155455342#sthash.prUNRYva.kHoQsHsa.dpuf 



  1. You have collected some great stories about your Granduncle, Jo - Nicely done.

    1. Thank you Dara! I appreciate that you took a moment to read it and that you enjoyed it. I also greatly appreciate that you took the time to tell me so. It is really nice to get comments on my posts. :)

  2. Every so often I google Don Synder 38th division just to see what pops up, and fond this. I'm the grandson of Florence Zumburnn-Snyder who he was married to in the 80s and was close to until he died. Don was a great guy, he and I were very close and spent quite a bit of time together with my grandmother. We spoke often about his time in combat.
    Regarding the picture of him in a cast, that was the result of a tragic accident. The Tommy Gun he carried throughout the Philippines, put that bullet through his ankle. He had rested it against his tent, when a gust of wind caused it to fall and it went off when it hit the ground, striking him.
    Sadly as grew older I didn't see him often in his last few years.

    1. Hi Steve, Thank you so much for commenting and giving me more detail on my great-uncle Don! As you can tell I hadn't known that he married again in the 1980's. I have guests here now, but I'll update the post when I can to include her in his story. I'm also glad to know how he hurt his leg. I'm so glad you took the time to comment and tell me about him.


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