Eric W. Snyder, who founded an independent insurance agency in Parkton nearly four decades agoand was an avid farmer, died of a coronary thrombosis June 26 at his Hunt Valley home. He was 61.
“Eric was just the most wonderful man who was kind, generous, upbeat and positive. He was always eager to lend a hand to his many friends, and you won’t find anyone that would say anything unkind about him,” Baltimore County Circuit Judge Judith C. Ensor said.
She added: “He and his wife and kids lived in a farm next door to where I grew up, and I’ve known him for more than 30 years.”
Victoria Schwatka was another Monkton neighbor.
“Eric was just one of the good guys,” Ms. Schwatka said. “He was open, friendly and nice, and not in a phony way. He was a tremendously successful businessman and would drop everything to help you.”
Eric Warren Snyder, son of Warren Paul Snyder, a pension specialist for Aetna Life and Casualty, and his wife, Barbara Cole Snyder, an educator at the prestigious George School, was born and raised in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
After graduating in 1978 from Neshaminy Maple Point High School, he entered Pennsylvania State University in State College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1983 in agricultural science and was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon.
While at Penn State, he met Lana Wiester, a freshman classmate, whom he fell in love with and married in 1987.
Mr. Snyder was born into the insurance business, which was only amplified after his marriage because his father-in-law, Wayne Wiester, owned and operated an Erie Insurance agency in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, and became his mentor.
“Eric had honesty, intelligence and empathy for people,” Mr. Wiester said. “He really was exceptional and well respected in the business.”
Mr. Snyder worked in a sawmill during the week while taking weekend insurance courses in order to earn his insurance license. He began his agency without a single client and built the Eric W. Snyder Insurance Agency in Parkton, an independent agency, by way of cold calls, knocking on doors, putting flyers on cars, client referrals and working long hours.
An Erie agent, he “took pride in providing honest business advice and guiding clients through life’s changes, insurance and otherwise,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family.
Dottie J. Pope, an insurance agent, worked with Mr. Snyder for a decade.
“He was amazing, and he got to know his insurers individually, and was a kind, gentle all-around nice guy,” Ms. Pope said. “He was a good businessman who knew the insurance business inside and out, and agents from all over would call him for his wisdom and advice. He was so special to everyone and will be terribly missed.”
She added: “Eric was not only our boss — we worked 40 hours a week together — but he was also our friend.”
“He was a genuine human being that you could trust,” Ms. Schwatka said. “If Eric said he was going to do something, he did it, and you could trust him to do it. He was just a good, good person.”
“When he met people, he would embrace the things that were important to them,” Judge Ensor said. “And he was devoted to his children. What they were interested in, so was he.”
When living in Monkton where he resided for 17 years before moving to Hunt Valley, he used his woodworking skills to restore a pre-Civil War farmhouse that was part of his 50-acre farm, where he and his wife raised their three children and he operated his insurance business from a remodeled summer kitchen.
Mr. Snyder enjoyed the rural life and spent weekends aboard his red tractor completing landscaping projects and tending to his animals that roamed his fields.
In addition to being an avid gardener, Mr. Snyder liked skiing, building birdhouses and taking weekend hikes in Oregon Ridge Park. He was also a Penn State football season-ticket holder and liked taking summer vacations in Northport, Michigan.
“He would come over to our farm and shoot clay pigeons but he never hit one,” Judge Ensor said. “That was the one thing he was completely unsuccessful at.”
He was a supporter of the New York-based City Squash Program, whose goal was to help city youth attain their full academic, athletic and personal potential. Each summer, he and his wife would care for 15 kids who were enrolled in the program at their home while they competed in various Maryland squash tournaments.
Mr. Snyder, who had recently been appointed to the board of the Fire Museum of Maryland, was a supporter of Hereford Zone Charities and a member of the Hillendale Country Club.
Plans for a celebration-of-life gathering are incomplete.
In addition to his wife of 34 years, he is survived by two sons, Cole Snyder of Federal Hill and W. Griffin Snyder of New York City; a daughter, Emilia Snyder of West Hartford, Connecticut; his mother, Barbara Snyder of Newtown, Pennsylvania; a brother, Jeff Snyder of Villanova, Pennsylvania; and a sister, Jennifer Snyder of Charlotte, North Carolina.