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BOWLING GREEN — William F. Snook, who restored vintage vehicles to their old-time glory and who after a successful manufacturing career joined his son, Jeff, in opening a museum to display classic cars and artifacts of auto culture, died Wednesday in Wood County Hospital. He was 91.
He was in declining health recently after a minor fall, his son, Jeff, said. Mr. Snook, formerly of Wood County’s Center Township, lived at the Heritage Corner Health Care Campus since 2011.
The pair in 2002 opened Snook’s Dream Cars, a 10,000-square-foot museum on County Home Road outside of Bowling Green. The exterior looks like a Texaco filling station of the 1940s, and the museum displays the Snooks’ restored vintage vehicles. Visitors also get to see Mr. Snook’s artifacts of a long ago past — window cranks and cigar lighters; hood ornaments, seat covers, back-seat games, and oil company promotional items; period sales literature and shop manuals — which he acquired at flea markets and auto swap meets while searching for a particular fender or steering wheel.
“He was tickled to death [for] all his stuff, all the stuff he collected, to be on display now for other people to share,” his son said.
Mr. Snook, a self-taught mechanical engineer, came to Bowling Green in 1967, transferred by his employer, Marathon Special Products. Two years later, he went to work for Green Manufacturing Co., a producer of hydraulic cylinders. He became plant manager and, in time, owner.
He retired in the 1980s after his son had worked his way through the ranks to president. His son sold the company in 1998.
Mr. Snook was both a good hands-on engineer and a good businessman, said Steve McEwen, who was on the firm’s board and became a friend. “You'd go out to see him sometimes and he’d be lying on his back under a Model T Ford,” Mr. McEwen said. “He was very comfortable with a wrench in his hand. He had studied all sorts of automotive technology and knew every part of the automobile.”
He was born Dec. 23, 1922, in Williamsport, Pa., to Lucy and William H. Snook. While attending Williamsport High School, he worked part time at a local gas station. With his savings — $20, his son said — he bought a used Model A, becoming the first automobile owner in the family.
He worked in the drafting department of a defense plant at the start of World War II and joined the Army in 1943. He was a sergeant in the motor pool and served in the European Theater and, after the war, in occupied Japan. He was a graduate of Williamsport Technical Institute, where he studied mechanical drafting. He later worked for Marathon Electric in Erie, Pa., and Wausau, Wis.
He was president of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association for 1982-83. In retirement, he and his wife were residents for several years of Bradenton, Fla.
He and his wife, Marguerite, married on Jan. 4, 1947. She died Jan. 5, 2007.
Surviving are his son, Jeffrey Snook; daughter, Kathy Thogmartin, and brother Howard Snook.
A celebration of life will be held in the spring at Snook’s Dream Cars, his son said. Arrangements are by the Dunn Funeral Home, Bowling Green.
The family suggests tributes to the Bowling Green Community Foundation.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.