Former state Sen. Sid Snyder was legendary for his trustworthiness, his knowledge of legislative history, and – by all accounts – his story telling. A small business owner and a Democrat from Long Beach, Snyder was widely hailed by today’s senators as a statesman and an inspiration upon his death at the age of 86.
“His vision and his skills of compromise helped bridge partisan gaps and get things done for the betterment of his district and his state while providing a steady hand on the caucus during challenging times,” said Sens. Brown, Haugen and Hatfield in a joint statement.
“His integrity and honesty guided him as much as an elevator operator in the capital in 1940s as it did when he served as Senate majority leader in the opening years of the 21st Century,” said Sen. Murray.
Snyder’s remarkable rise in Olympia is virtually without parallel. He arrived as staff in 1949, moving from the elevators to the bill room and on, becoming Secretary of the Senate in 1969. In 1990, he was appointed as a senator for the 19th District, and he became Senate majority leader in 1996. He retired in 2002.
Sidney R. Snyder was born in Kelso on July 30, 1926. His father, a barber, died when he was 5 years old and his mother tried to make ends meet by taking in laundry and doing other odd jobs. As a child, Snyder helped his family by delivering laundry.
During World War II, the Snyder family helped further the war effort. Snyder’s mother worked at naval shipyards and Snyder himself served in the Air Force in 1945. After a brief stint in college, Snyder went on vacation in Long Beach where he would spend the majority of the rest of his life.
In 1953, Snyder accepted a $13,000 loan and soon after opened up his own grocery store in Seaview. Fifty-five years later, Sid’s Market is still going strong.
Throughout his career, Snyder amassed a wealth of knowledge about the history of the state and its politics, and in addition to being one of the Capitol’s power players, Snyder became known as one of its most engaging story tellers.
Sid Snyder is survived by his wife of 61 years, Bette, three children and four grandchildren.