Community honors coach, teacher Lee Mason Snyder

Published 4:58 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

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Lee Mason Snyder, a longtime resident of Lowndesboro died on May 6 at age 77. For many years, Snyder was a good neighbor and friend as well as a beloved coach of football, basketball, track, gymnastics, baseball, and softball at local Lowndes Academy and other schools across Alabama and Georgia.

Rachel McCurdy remembers Snyder as a beloved step father. He married her mother, Lauralee when Rachel was 15 years old and moved the family from Montgomery to Lowndesboro so she could attend Lowndes Academy.

“He loved the school so much,” McCurdy said. “He grew up poor and didn’t have a lot of help, so he put himself through school by working and helping out with coaching staff wherever he was. He had so many degrees and I realized because of him how important education was.”

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McCurdy said watching Snyder and the way he interacted with students helped inspire her own 28-year teaching career at Lowndes.

“Watching him, seeing the way he reacted with his students, helped me see what I could do,” said McCurdy. “It was kind of neat to see how many people would come up to us and talk to us about him with all the funny coaching stories. He was quite a character.”

Larry Forest, who came to Lowndes Academy in his senior year, remembers the coach as someone who helped student athletes build a team family through hard work and dedication.

“We hadn’t won but a couple of games in two years,” Forest said. “He came in and told us if we would listen to him and do what he told us to do, if we bought in, we would win games. So, we all bought in and we did. It was hard work but now we realize he was making us a team and a family. We went 6-4 that year and we beat Morgan Academy for the first time in five years.”

He was born in Manhattan, New York to Lillian Leona Mason and Harold Dennis Snyder on May 21, 1945, and was raised in Atmore, Alabama by his mother and stepfather Everett Mason. 

As a 1963 graduate of Escambia County High School, he received the honor of All-State linebacker his senior year and went on to attend Auburn University where he played the position of fullback before transferring to Troy University (then known as Troy State University). Snyder began coaching football and baseball in 1966 at Baldwin High School in Milledgeville, Georgia and returned to Alabama in 1967. 

The Alabama native went on to coach at Escambia County High School, Red Level High School, Troy State University, and Lowndes Academy. After retirement, Snyder taught computer science in Selma, Montgomery, and Clanton. 

“He made us into the men we are today,” Forest said. “He just had a way of motivating people.”

Snyder loved gardening, traveling, watching his grandchildren participate in any sport they were involved in, and cheering for Auburn football.

Billy McCartha lived next door to Snyder for around 30 years and said he was the kind of person who was always ready to help whenever needed.

“My truck broke down once and I had no way to go,” McCartha said. “He just pulled his pickup up in my front yard. He showed me the keys and told me to use it as long as I needed it. That’s what kind of friend he was.”

Lee is survived by his wife Lauralee Gautreaux Snyder and his daughter Rachel McCurdy (Garrett). Grandchildren, Frazer McCurdy (Jordan), Laura Jean McCurdy, Mason McCurdy. Great-granddaughter Sarah Chapman McCurdy.

The family received friends on May 21, on Snyder’s 78th birthday, in the auditorium at Lowndes Academy, by a Celebration of Life Ceremony that afternoon.

Honorary pallbearers were Larry Forest, David Nichols, Russ Bozeman, Darren Hammonds, Russ Renfroe, Dennis Tillary, Steve Tindall, Bubba Crook, Jeff Godwin, Bo Kemsel, David Rogers, Jack Rogers, and Jack Shanahan. 

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