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James Herbert Snyder

June 13, 1959 - March 7, 2017

Jim’s Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday March 18th at Rose City Park Methodist Church, 5839 NE Alemeda Street, Portland OR, 97213.


James “Jim” Herbert Snyder, 57, of Portland, Oregon, died on March 7, 2017 after a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by loved ones.

Jim was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on June 13th, 1959. He was the youngest of three children born to Ruth and James Snyder.  Jim spent time in the summers at his Grandparents’ dairy farm in Williamsburg, PA, where he enjoyed helping his grandfather (Pappy) on the farm. Jim graduated from Central Dauphin High School in 1977.

At age 13 Jim became a bicycle enthusiast and worked at a local bicycle shop in Harrisburg, where he repaired and sold bicycles. He became an avid rider, and would often get up early in the mornings and ride 10-15 miles before his school day started. At age 16, Jim joined a biking group and took his first cross country bicycle trip. He took his second cross country bike trip at the age of 21.

Jim moved to Idaho in his early 20’s and worked for Bunker Hill Mining Company in Kellog, Idaho. Later he worked in the Lemhi Valley as a ranch hand in Salmon, Idaho. He  moved to Oregon in 1984, where he found work first on a farm in Woodburn, then later at Brasuer Lumber Company in Molalla. While working days, he took night courses at Chemeketa Community College and earned his Associates Degree in Human Services. He worked on his Bachelor’s Degree at Western Baptist College.

Professionally, Jim chose Social Services as his lifework. For over 20 years he worked for the Department of Human Services (DHS), State of Oregon, in Marion and Clackamas counties. During his time with DHS, he worked in Child Protective Services, Screening and Intake, and Foster Home Certification. Jim was well-loved by his foster families and co-workers. He was known for his kind, caring manner and steadfast dedication to the children and families he served. He was also known for his dry sense of humor and penchant for practical jokes around the office :).

While working for DHS, Jim also started a successful business with his then wife Donna. Together they opened the antique store “The Red Bench” in the town of Silverton, Oregon, where they lived with their three children. He continued to work full time for DHS while helping to grow the business, which is still in operation today.

Jim was a creative individual with an adventurous spirit. He had endless interests and talents. Jim loved to learn new skills by taking on a variety of self-taught arts, crafts, and construction projects. Jim taught himself to weld and spent a few years crafting welded art pieces, such garden gates, sculptures, and kayak racks. He once welded a life-size motorcycle from random metal objects. Some of his garden gates can still be found in residential areas in Silverton. Prior to his welding days, he purchased a kiln and taught himself to make and fire pottery art.

Jim was always interested in travel, locally and abroad. During his lifetime he took two trips to the Dominican Republic and one to Mexico for the purpose of building church buildings for local communities. He loved to travel with his family, but he also appreciated the solace of traveling alone. In his late 40’s, Jim bought a BMW touring bike, and rode his motorcycle across the country for about a month. He came home with a treasure trove of stories to tell about the individuals and communities he encountered along the way. It was one of his favorite life experiences.

Later in life Jim took up an interest in quilting, and it quickly became his next passion. He loved choosing fabric colors and patterns for creating unique, one-of-a-kind quilts. Jim made quilts for several family members, and inspired some of his friends and family to make quilts, too. These quilts will be on display at his memorial.

During this time Jim lived in Portland, OR, with his wife Rebekah and stepsons Sam and Logan.  Jim felt a strong sense of community in Portland, and he often walked and biked the various Portland neighborhoods, not hesitating to start up conversations with neighbors and residents. He loved to hear their stories. Jim also loved reading books about individuals who had interesting life stories to tell. In order to honor his passion for community, books, and stories, Jim and his stepson Logan built a Little Free Library book exchange outside their home, so the neighborhood would have a way to share and exchange books.

After his cancer diagnosis, Jim wanted to take up a craft that took less energy, so he began studying the art of pastel painting, and he took a few lessons from his father-in-law, Ed. Jim was also a big fan of artistic coloring books, and coloring brought him much peace and relaxation during his chemo treatments. Coloring was a welcome distraction from chemo symptoms.

In the 2+ years Jim struggled to fight cancer, he took great comfort and joy in his two dedicated doggies, Atticus and Miss Maudie. Miss Maudie was a gift from Jim’s wife Rebekah. She surprised Jim with Miss Maudie on the day of his first round of chemo. They lovingly called Miss Maudie their “Chemo Therapy Dog”. In the last months of his life, Jim had no greater friend than his dog Atticus. Whether they be napping, walking, reading, watching TV, painting, or quilting, Atticus was always by Jim’s side, offering comfort and companionship.

Jim is survived by his wife Rebekah Martin, his daughter Elizabeth Ellison and son-in-law Jay, his sons Luke and Kyle and Kyle’s fiancé Mariah, his two stepsons Samuel and Logan, his grandchildren Hannah, Jessica, and Josh, his mother and stepfather Ruth and Jon Matter from Pennsylvania, his sister Resa Taylor and brother-in-law Hudson from Brazil, his sister Karen Anderson and brother-in-law Alan from Nevada, and numerous cousins,  nieces and nephews who live all over the world and absolutely adored him!

Jim’s Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday March 18th at Rose City Park Methodist Church, 5839 NE Alemeda Street, Portland OR, 97213. The service will be officiated by Jim’s father-in-law, Rev. Dr. Edmon Martin of Vancouver, WA. There will be a social gathering in the church reception hall immediately after the service. Pie will be served, in honor of Jim’s love for this wonderful dessert! There will be an open mic opportunity for guests to share stories and memories of Jim. Memorial arrangements are being handled by Omega Funeral and Cremation.

The family would like to thank Providence Portland Oncology Center and Providence Portland Hospice for the excellent services Jim received while in their care. A special thanks goes out to the Hospice nurses for their wisdom, kindness, and support during our most difficult times.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Cancer Institute, or a cancer organization of your choice, in memory of James Snyder. The following link to the National Cancer Institute can assist with ideas for donations. https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/overview/contributing

Snyder, James