ALTON — Blake Snyder is remembered by friends and colleagues as a man of faith and a “tremendous” person.
Snyder, 33, died Thursday, Oct. 6, from wounds sustained during a shootout with a suspect in a St. Louis neighborhood. Snyder was an officer with the St. Louis County Police Department, where he had been an officer for four years. Snyder is survived by a wife, Elizabeth, and 2-year-old son, Malachi.
Snyder may have been a St. Louis police officer, but his ties to the Metro East were many. Snyder was a 2001 graduate of Alton High School and a Godfrey native. In the days following the shooting, countless friends and acquaintances mourned the loss while sharing their memories of Snyder.
“Blake Curtis Snyder was a great man, father and husband and from all accounts, he was a spectacular police officer,” family friend Thomas R. Pullen posted on Facebook Thursday. “Rest In Peace Blake. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. Rest Easy in the Arms of our Lord.”
Snyder began his professional career working summers for the Godfrey Parks and Recreation Department, spending five years with the village from 2001 to 2006.
“Blake was one of ours,” a village of Godfrey Parks and Recreation Department Facebook post stated Thursday morning. “He worked for the Park and Rec as a summer job as lots of local kids do. He was a great kid. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick said he’s very close with Snyder’s parents, Dick and Peggy Snyder.
“Everybody here that worked with Blake when he worked for the village of Godfrey just adored him,” McCormick said. “Jim Lewis, our Public Works director, was over (Snyder) in the Parks at that time when Blake worked here, and he said he was probably the best worker he has ever had. Just a joy to be around, and also a great worker.”
Snyder was also active in the faith community, with connections to both Destiny Church and Riverbend Family Ministries, where he sat on the board of directors for four years, according to his LinkedIn page.
“We at RFM are so heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend Officer Blake Snyder,” Riverbend Family Ministries executive director Tammy Iskarous wrote in a Facebook post the day of the shooting. “Blake joined the board of Riverbend Family Ministries in 2008. When asked why he wanted to join our board his response was ‘to help facilitate what God is doing within this community, especially the changing of the lives of young people.’ Blake lived this model every day! He brought energy, talent and a desire to serve in whatever capacity to make this community better. We were sad when he rotated off; however, we knew that his acceptance to the academy was exactly where he was supposed to be. His love for his family and friends was contagious and his commitment to the community he served was inspirational. We as a board pray for his wife, son, family and friends. His light will be missed. We pray that his desire for young people to learn a better way will be a torch picked up by those whose lives he has changed and left behind.”
While at Alton High School, Snyder played football. Brad Hasquin, a current coach at Granite City High School and a former Alton coach when Snyder was a player, tweeted that Snyder was a “tremendous kid.”
Snyder also attended Lewis and Clark Community College from 2001 to 2003 before pursuing further education at Washington University in St. Louis and, later, at Ranken Technical College.
A community effort
His former school is among those honoring Snyder in the coming days. The Lewis and Clark Trailblazers men’s soccer team is playing its final home game of the season on Oct. 15, and a brief ceremony and special presentation to Snyder’s family will take place at 3 p.m. at the Soccer Stadium on the school’s Godfrey campus. During the game, school officials will take donations for BackStoppers.
“Snyder and his family have left an enormous impact on the college,” L&C President Dale Chapman said. “Our hearts go out to the family during this difficult time.”
Numerous businesses on both sides of the river have also taken it upon themselves to raise money for Snyder’s family. The St. Louis County Police Department put together an interactive map at advnews.link/2e7w5l2 of all the fundraising events in St. Louis County.
McCormick said the village has plans to plant a tree in one of its parks in memory of Snyder and his work for their Parks Department. On Sunday, the TreeHouse Wildlife Center will release a bald eagle at West Alton’s Audubon Center at Riverlands in memory of Snyder. Elizabeth Snyder was a former intern at the Dow, Ill., wildlife center.
St. Louis Family Church was the site of Snyder’s funeral service on Thursday, and hundreds lined the streets as the procession made its way down Landmarks Boulevard in Alton, down the River Road to Clifton Terrace, then up to West Delmar before finally arriving at Godfrey’s Valhalla Memorial Park. Godfrey Parks and Recreation vehicles lined part of Clifton Terrace, and volunteers had lined the route with blue and black ribbons wrapped around telephone poles and trees. Two ladder trucks from the Godfrey Fire Protection District hung a large American flag at the entrance to Valhalla.
Alton police officers also were stationed at points along the route, and the Alton Police Department urged residents to line the shoulders of Landmarks Boulevard as the procession made its way from the Clark Bridge to the River Road.
“Several of my officers knew Blake, so it did strike close to home,” Alton Police Chief Jason “Jake” Simmons said at a candlelight vigil for Snyder Monday at Alton’s Public School Stadium. “Any time an officer dies in the line of duty, it’s very tragic. But this is good to have because it gives the officers a little closure, it gives the family a little closure.”
At the vigil, Snyder’s friends and loved ones spoke about their fallen friend. Alton Police Department Chaplain Marc Lane closed with a prayer, thanking God for the brief time many got to spend with Blake Snyder.
“Our hearts are full,” Lane said. “Thank you for allowing us to meet, get to know, spend time with, make friends with, be impacted by this servant of yours.”
Fundraisers at advnews.link/2e7w5l2