John Snyder

John Snyder
It is hard to look back 50 years, but even harder to think 50 years in the future. Still… I have to do what I have to do, bring my Hamilton classmates up to date on the 50 years after I left the Hill. After graduating from Hamilton, I went to the Wharton School in Philadelphia, partly to avoid the draft and service in Vietnam. Well, that didn’t work so well, although I did get my MBA and started work in New York City for Chemical Bank (now JPMorgan/Chase) in its credit training field. But that was only for the summer of 1968, as I enlisted in Officer Candidate School for the U. S. Army, starting at Fort Dix, NJ. After nearly a year in training, and discovering that I was going to be an Infantry Officer, not the Finance Officer I wanted to be, I dropped out of OCS and ended up serving the balance of my two year commitment in Vietnam. My tour of duty there was uneventful, as I could type, and therefore was a personnel and casualty clerk in an Engineer Company in Phu Bai, a base just south of Hue. No guard duty, and monthly drives down the coastline to DaNang, delivering the R&R Manifest. It was an attractive scenic drive.

After September 1970, it was back to NYC, but a quick transfer within Chemical to the Trust Department, where I became an Administrative and Investment Officer at the Headquarters on Park Avenue. I lived on West 23rd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue. During that time, I reconnected with a high school classmate, Sharon Sweeny (Wellesley ’65), and we were married in August 1975. We decided in 1977 that City life was not going to lead to an apartment in the City and a house in the country on a banker’s salary. This was not the heady days of Investment Banking, like today, so we decided to come back to Detroit, and I worked for Detroit Bank and Trust, now Comerica Bank, in its Trust Department. That had been the Bank my father had been with for 35 years, and where I stayed for 33 years, “retiring” in 2010… due to a downsizing of several positions.

It was a very satisfying career, helping some of the wealthy families in the Detroit area with both Trust Administration and Investment of their funds. We settled into a suburban lifestyle, with my commuting down Jefferson Avenue to Comerica’s Headquarters. During that time, we adopted two children, our daughter, Martha (now married with two young girls) and James (living and working at the University of Chicago, his alma mater). Typical charitable and church involvement. We also bought our summer cottage in Bay View, MI., a Chautauqua community on Little Traverse Bay, outside Petoskey. I would commute every weekend during the summer, precisely 282 miles in 3 hours 45 minutes, or thereabouts. After retirement, I spend the summer there, except for monthly trips to Detroit for a luncheon engagement and a haircut.

Unfortunately, my wife died in late December 2011, of a cancer we only discovered at Thanksgiving of that year. So, now I am a widower, involved in a number of charitable organizations. I have just retired from the Vestry of Christ Church Grosse Pointe (Episcopal), finishing my third year as Senior Warden. I am also the Newsletter Editor of the Grosse Pointe Senior Men’s Club, a group I joined right after retiring. And I play a mean game of croquet on the Bay View courts during the summer.

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