E. Brent Snodgrass

E. Brent Snodgrass ( )

E. Brent Snodgrass, who had been Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s regional director of public and political affairs and later established a Florida public relations firm, died April 1 of complications from dementia at his Tampa home. He was 85.

Edwin Brent Snodgrass — he never used his first name while living in Baltimore — was the son of a Marion County, W.Va., deputy sheriff and a homemaker.

After graduating in 1946 from Fairmont High School, he enrolled at Fairmont State University in Fairmont, W.Va., where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1948, graduating in two years.

During his college years, he worked as a reporter for the Times West Virginian in Fairmont, and after graduating was named sports editor of The Parkersburg News. He also worked as a radio and TV sports commentator.

Mr. Snodgrass moved to Baltimore, where he was an Associated Press sports reporter. In the 1950s, he was named director of public relations for Orange Hospital in Orange, N.J., and in 1956 served as president of the New Jersey Hospital Public Relations Association.

In 1960, he began a 25-year career in Baltimore as Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s director of public and political relations.

He also held a public relations assignment for the company in Northern Indiana during the 1960s, when Bethlehem was opening its new Burns Harbor steel plant. He later returned to Baltimore and moved into the Ridgely Condominium in Towson.

Mr. Snodgrass used his friendship with Mayor William Donald Schaefer and then-City Council President Clarence H. "Du" Burns to strengthen relations between Bethlehem Steel and the area's African-American community.

In 1974, he appointed the first African-American member to his public relations staff, family members said.

During his years in Baltimore, Mr. Snodgrass served as president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Baltimore Economic Development Commission and the Baltimore Private Industry Council.

He was also a trustee of the Council on Economic Education in Maryland, served as a director of the Baltimore County Police Foundation and was a member of the legislative committee of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

After retiring from Bethlehem in 1985, he moved to Florida and opened Image Directions, a public relations company that he owned and operated until retiring in 1991.

He was accredited by the Public Relations Society of America and was a member of the organization's College of Fellows. He was also a member of the Florida Public Relations Association.

He enjoyed playing tennis and golf and had been a member of the Baltimore Country Club and the Sparrows Point Country Club. He was a member of the Bonita Springs Elks Lodge 2753.

Mr. Snodgrass and his wife of 60 years, the former Betty J. Olson, were founding members in 1998 of LifeWay Baptist Church in Naples. Since 2001, they had been members of the First Baptist Church of Naples.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. April 26 at his church, 3000 Orange Blossom Road, Naples.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Snodgrass is survived by a son, the Rev. Jeffrey Snodgrass of Boca Raton, Fla.; two daughters, Mary B. Solhein of Brandon, Fla., and Dana Chacon of Bishop, Ga.; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com