Community remembers former Judge Edwin Snyder

ROCHESTER MILLS — Since his passing early in September, members of the community of Jefferson County and the surrounding area have been remembering and honoring the life of Edwin L. Snyder Jr. — once the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County for more than 20 years — and the impact he had on the area in which he lived and on those around him.

Snyder passed away at the age of 88 at home on Sept. 12.

Whether professionally or personally, many in Jefferson County remembered Snyder fondly.

State Rep. and Speaker of the House Sam Smith knew Snyder in both senses, having, as a child, lived on Highland Avenue, about two blocks away from where Snyder lived, and later coming to know him through his profession as a judge.

“Judge Snyder was always absolutely consistent and predictable in the sense that there were no surprises, pretty much just one of those leaders in the community who you could count on to do the right thing,” Smith said.

He added, “He was one of the most respected and just steadfast jurists a small county like Jefferson County could hope to have.”

County Commissioner Jim McIntyre remembered Snyder as a former employer, having worked for him when he was Jefferson County’s chief adult probation officer.

“He was truly a mentor to me,” McIntyre said. “I will never forget a statement he made to me. Judge Snyder said, ‘Experience is a dear teacher; she tests first and then gives the lesson.’ As I reflect on this statement — I have had the lessons over the years in my roles in court services, human services and county government.”

Larry Straitiff knew him under similar circumstances, serving as the chief adult probation officer in the county from 1979-1992.

He said that Snyder was his law professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania prior to that.

Straitiff said that he was a gentleman, very learned in the law, fair and highly respected both by the lawyers and the parties.

“He was an excellent supervisor and boss ... I was very proud to serve him,” he said.

In a letter submitted to The Punxsutawney Spirit, former Spirit contributor Terry A. Fye said, “I remember the judge as a well-dressed gentleman always ready with his familiar smile, a friendly greeting or an entertaining story or comment. He took pride in his work, his family and those who helped to make the town a better place. Described by former neighbors and colleagues as ‘sweet,’ ‘kind,’ gentle’ and ‘generous,’ the judge encouraged, assisted and supported efforts to improve Punxsutawney. We are grateful for the privilege of knowing him.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by numerous members of the community in the guestbook at Deeley Funeral Home’s website, where many friends and colleagues referred to him as a good judge, neighbor, friend and employer.

Others who wish to add their own comments can do so at

In addition to his role as president judge in Jefferson County, Snyder also served as a specially appointed senior judge for 13 years in other Western Pennsylvania courts.

He was also an active member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges while acting as judge.

His position in the courtroom was not his only service to his country, having served in the U.S. Navy during World War II after graduating from the Marion Center High School Class of 1942.

Following his Navy service, he graduated from the Michigan School of Liberal Arts in 1949 and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1952.

Snyder was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Punxsutawney.

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