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Calaveras County icon Betty Snyder dies at 87

Betty Snyder, community leader and co-founder of the long-running Valley Springs Powwow, died Friday at Chancellor Place assisted living in Lodi. She was 87.

Mrs. Snyder and her late husband, John, were cattle ranchers. They helped start 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs in Calaveras County so their daughters and other children could participate in them.

 

She was also on the Mark Twain Hospital board as well as a member of the hospital’s auxiliary, where she volunteered as a “pink lady.”

She was on the board of directors of the Calaveras County Fair and was active in the Valley Springs Boosters Club and Valley Springs Area business Association, which once named her and her husband as Citizens of the Year. 

She also played bridge for fun and to keep her mind sharp, she told a Union Democrat reporter in 2010.

Although she was active in many organizations and a community leader over the years, her daughter, Joanne Randall, of Valley Springs, said her mother thought of all of it as just being a friend and having friends.

“She knew she was dying,” Randall said, “and when I asked her what she wanted to be remembered for, she said she wanted people to remember that we all loved each other.”

Her neighbor and friend, Diana Gigliotti, who plans to continue managing the annual Valley Springs Powwow, which she has done for several years, said Mrs. Snyder loved attending Community United Methodist Church in Valley Springs, where a celebration of her life began at 11 a.m. today.

“She was a real gem of a lady,” Gigliotti said. 

Mrs. Snyder was born July 11, 1925, in Berkeley, the daughter of Mildred Kelly Baker and Raymond Sterling Baker. She moved to Calaveras County as a senior in high school.

She met her husband during World War II while they were both working as weekend volunteers for the local gas rationing board in San Andreas. In those days people helped with the war effort by limiting the use of such things as petroleum products and food. The rationing was mandated and largely regulated by the government.

They were married shortly thereafter, and he served a stint as a supply sergeant for the military police in Puerto Rico. They began raising cattle on their Valley Springs ranch in 1946. They were married for 64 years, until his death in 2008.

The Valley Springs Powwow has been an annual event for almost 40 years and recently had an annual draw of roughly 10,000 people, making the Snyder Ranch the largest city in Calaveras County during Labor Day weekend, when it is held.

It brings rock hunters and craft-makers together with people who might buy their goods.

Mrs. Snyder is survived by her daughters, Susan Snyder Batson, of Yoakum, Texas, Janet Adamek, of Yoakum, Texas, Joanne Randall and her husband, Ron, of Valley Springs, and Mary Ann Strojan, of Farmington; seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life began at 11 a.m. today at the Community United Methodist Church in Valley Springs. Valley Mortuary handled arrangements.



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