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Eugene Edmund Snyder ’41

A picture of Eugene Snyder

Eugene Edmund Snyder ’41, July 15, 2010, in Portland. Only child of Edmund I. Snyder and renowned artist Amanda Tester Snyder, Eugene grew up in Portland, surrounded by books and art. Over the years, his fascination with language and picturesque phraseology led to a distinctive writing style that was precise, eloquent, and humorous. He edited the newspaper at Washington High School and was the school correspondent for the Oregon Journal—which paid him $3 a week. Following a stint as copyboy at the Oregonian, Eugene enrolled at Reed, where he thrived in his role as editor of the Griffin and wrote a political science thesis on the press and the presidential election of 1940. He left Reed intent on a career in writing, but the attack on Pearl Harbor altered his plans. He served three years in the U.S. Navy as a communications officer. After the war, he studied French at Laval University in Quebec, then moved to New York City to write for Business Week. He returned to academia to earn advanced degrees in economics from UC Berkeley and Oxford University, and taught economics at the University of British Columbia, Linfield College, and Portland State University. While lunching in Portland's north park blocks one day, he discovered a plaque dedicated to the “great plank road.” Curiosity drove him to investigate. Subsequent research during evenings and weekends over the course of three years led him to write Early Portland: Stump-Town Triumphant, the first of more than a dozen books on Oregon history. Eugene also wrote about his travels in Mexico and Europe and about art—that of his mother, whose work he curated, and that of his uncle, artist Jefferson Tester. He also ventured into detective and mystery writing—a nod to his “childhood friend” Sherlock Holmes. For two years he successfully ran The News Critic: Oregon's Fortnightly Review of Art, Science, and Political Economy—a “David,” he said, to Portland's newspaper “Goliaths.” His creativity knew no bounds—he once designed and constructed a mountaineering board game, “Peak.” Eugene was an accomplished illustrator, photographer, and artist whose creativity and scholarly work served as companions to the end of his life.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2010

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