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Published: Thursday, 10/21/2004

Schoolteacher helped operate family farm, raise 4 children

ADRIAN - Fern G. Snyder, a schoolteacher who raised four children on the family dairy farm, died of Alzheimer's disease Tuesday at the Citizens for Quality Care nursing home. She was 87.

Born in Tipton, Mich., she graduated from Clinton High School in 1936 and later attended an area school to qualify her to teach. She married Arthur Snyder on May 20, 1942.

As a young woman, she worked with her husband to help bale hay and plant corn on their farm on U.S. 223, just west of Adrian, Melvin Snyder, her son, said.

"I remember when I was little when we were baling hay, she drove the tractor and Dad was putting bales on a trailer," he said.

They farmed 102 acres of their own, plus an addition 80 acres on her father-in-law's farm.

Mrs. Snyder gardened and canned vegetables. But dairy farming was a difficult business and that led Mrs. Snyder to a career in teaching to augment the family's income.

"My Dad was having a hard time making money on the farm and we were in debt, and that is why she went back to teaching school," her son said.

He was about 11 years old when she began teaching at Onsted Elementary School in 1962. Later in the decade, she took courses to complete bachelor's and master's degrees at Siena Heights University. She retired in 1982, about two years after the farm was sold.

"She was quiet, but she was strong when she had to be strong," her son said. "She never wanted to hurt anybody's feelings. "She always said that if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say it, and she lived by that too. She was always conscious of other people's feelings."

In her spare time, she enjoyed playing euchre and accompanied her husband on trips to show miniature draft horses he raised as a hobby.

Her husband died in 1997.

Surviving are her sons, Gordon, Melvin, and Gerald; daughter, Fay; sister, Gertrude Munger; brother, Robert Jones; eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Braun Everiss Wagley Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer's Association.

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