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Joy Marion Snyderman

May 20, 1927 April 17, 2024
Joy Marion Snyderman
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Obituary for Joy Marion Snyderman

The first time she saw the Crazy Mountains, Joy Snyderman was 12 years old and driving with her family from Omaha to Seattle. Like so many families that were tumbling out of the Depression, Joy’s family was venturing West in hopes that a job would be waiting for her father. Although she was a child of the Depression, she always described her life as being rich with love, adventure, and wonder. This cross-country trek, when everything for her family was on the line, was no exception.

She often spoke about what it was like to put all the family’s possessions, including the toys, on the front lawn of her Omaha house so her family could afford the trip along the old Oregon Trail. Joy would talk about their run down Ford and the sensation of wondering whether it would make it over the hills of central Montana.

But it would not be until March, 2020 that Joy would be flooded with memories about that trip that forged her childhood. When COVID was decimating East Coast cities, Joy agreed to leave her home in Hopewell, NJ and move to Big Timber to be closer to family. As she crested the hill leaving Billings, and the Crazies came into view, she was awash in memories. And when she saw the frontage road in Big Timber, she knew she had been here before….in this spot, on this road, and through Big Timber. But this time she would stop.

Joy lived the last four years of her life healthy, robust, with a clear mind and a lot of gumption. She would tell visitors – whether 20 or 90 – that each day you just have to wake up with a little bit of grit. And grit she had. She awakened every morning ready to take on the day with pioneer spirit. She married he man she loved, moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana and raised four children. She encouraged her kids to explore the outdoors, take risks, and always have a sense of humor.

Joy was an organic gardener before it was fashionable and pushed her neighbors to recycle long before it was commonplace. Although she could rock an evening dress, she was always more comfortable in her garden with some dirt under her nails.

She was an avid reader and had more books than book space. When she moved to Montana, Joy stopped reading the news. All breaking news is broken she would say. She found more joy in a new moon than in the New York Times. She loved watching the horses in the front pasture and the rolling foothills of the Crazies reminded her of the wide-open spaces of her Nebraska childhood.

The dinner table could be a raucous affair. She insisted on sit down family dinners, even if her husband, a surgeon, was running late. No topic was off limits and often included conversations “not suitable” for the dinner table. Raised voices were occasionally allowed, as long as everything was reconciled before the meal was over. Her children were taught to think for themselves and back up good arguments with facts.

Joy attended the Kansas City Art Institute as WWll was winding down. She channeled her love of the arts through the Fort Wayne Art Institute and was a life- long member of the Art Institute of Chicago. She didn’t believe that there was such a thing as bad art….some things sing to some people and some things don’t she would say. She encouraged that freedom of expression in her children and grandchildren.

She is survived by her four children: Nancy Snyderman, MD. Big Timber, MT, Sanford Snyderman, Asheville, NC, Carl Snyderman, MD, Pittsburgh, PA and Martha Snyderman, Waxhaw, NC., nine grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. She was especially grateful for her friendships with Mark Ziajko and Joan McDaniel and who made her Montana life possible.

Joy Snyderman died just shy of her 97th birthday. Her last words were “I love you.”

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