THE LAMA LETTER

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In the llama
world, Dick
was known as
a gentle and
generous soul.

PAGE 16

Dick & Fivestarr, Dick’s favorite llama. Photo: Joanne Beckmann

Tribute to Dick Snyder 1940-2014
By Jane Hamilton-Merritt

R

ICHARD SNYDER, a stalwart in
the American llama community for
almost three decades, died as a result of a fall
down the stairs of his historical farm house in
Milford, PA last November. Dick, as he was
known by many, was active in both PLAA
and GALA.

News of his unfortunate accident evoked
an avalanche of comments on the value and
importance of Dick Snyder’s life and his
various contributions not only to the llama
world but to the world of medical research,
conservation, historic preservation, and civic
and cultural organizations.

Only a few months earlier, in late July, Dick,
along with PLAA, had hosted a most successful
event; combining his annual Llama Open
Barn Day with an event promoting the Fiber
Artisans Festival. Some 700 people enjoyed
the thirty-some vendors and demonstrations
and the opportunity to learn llama basics
from Dick – and then to go into the barn and
pastures to be with the llamas.

In 1985, Dick purchased a 70 acre former
dairy farm, known as the Foster Hill Dairy
Farm, high on a hill outside Milford, PA.
Dick, who had grown up on a diary farm in
Carlisle PA, chose to restore the 150 year old
barn and farmhouse. Instead of returning this
farm to dairy cows, recalling the “hardships”
of his youth working on the family dairy
farm, he settled on llamas.

I recall the joy Dick expressed at the success
of this event as he smiled and gave credit
to Abbie Brown, wife of Farm Manger Joe
Myers, for pulling everything together. He
expressed hope that this event would become
an annual event.

Foster Hill Dairy became the home of Snyder
Quality Llamas. Dick started his new business
with three llamas. In time his llama herd grew
and grew. At one time, his farm had some 100
animals.As a breeder, Dick’s focus was to breed
for animals who had correct conformation,
elegant carriage, high-quality fiber, and good
dispositions.

All of this changed dramatically on that
November night last autumn.

FEBRUARY 2015

Bob Wolfe, PLAA and GALA member,
remembers that Dick was responsible for
bringing numerous outstanding show quality
llamas to the Northeast, the most notable
being Fivestarr purchased from Kay Patterson
of Hinterland Ranch in Oregon. Bob also
recalled that Dick’s llama herd also included
descendants of famous sires with names like
Dr. Doolittle, Errol Flynn, and The Fiduciary.
Joe Myers, Dick’s Farm Manager, reports that
Dick’s all time favorite llama was Fivestarr,
a black, with bit of white, silky fibered stud
who passed away in late December 2013 at
almost 20 years old.

The monies needed to come from individual
donors, and I recall Dick was one of the first I
asked, and he immediately sent support.”
“Again, when the Pacific Northwest Llama
Fiber Co-op was extending its boundaries, it
was Dick who initially offered his barn for
the fiber sort. When PLAA needed a place to
have a fiber festival, Dick offered to make his
Open Barn Day part of the festival. Dick was
just one of those people who looked for ways
to help others even beyond the llama world. I
feel truly blessed to have known him and the
world is certainly a better place because of his
presence here.”

In the llama world, Dick was known as a
gentle and generous soul. Katrina Capasso,
a llama breeder colleague, comments, “I
have known and admired Richard Snyder
for many years. I would speak with him at
llama events such as the GALA Conference,
and many, many llama shows throughout the
years. He was always a strong supporter of our
camelid organizations, and for that we are all
grateful.”

Dick, a former Vice President of Philip
Morris International, lent a serious hand in
helping to establish PLAA.

“I will always remember his great smile, gentle
kindness to all, and what a great advocate he
had been for so many – and I told him so at
the last GALA Conference he attended.”

Chuck recalls the response and how it created
PLAA: “As a result, GALA formed the PA
Llama Committee to address PA Senate
Bill 1047. In addition the Committee was
to address the issue of being able to display
llamas at the PA Farm Show.”

Carol Reigh, former President of PLAA and
GALA Board Member – who knew Dick
well – reflects on his contributions:
“Besides being TALL in stature, Dick Snyder
was tall in many other ways. He was tall in
his giving to others, his love for life, and his
eagerness to lend a hand. He was a quiet
man but always willing to support almost any
llama endeavor. Not only did he financially
support both PLAA and GALA in advertising
but also in sponsoring the GALA Conference
every year! I remember the year we had Dr.
Aba speak from Argentina and Dr. Aba would
not take any payment. So we decided to
support his research on camelids in Argentina.

Chuck Leach, who had known Dick Snyder
for 21 years, recalls how in 1993, a small group
of GALA llama owners rallied to address a
recently passed law in PA that could have
done onerous damage to the fledging llama
industry.

Dick’s restored historic farm
house at Foster Hill Farm.
Photo: Jane Hamilton-Merritt

“Dick Snyder, without hesitation, agreed to
serve on the Committee, along with Dan
Goodyear, Chuck Leach, Curt Thrush and
John Zerphy.”
“The Committee arranged to meet with
members of the PA Dept of Agriculture
and the Director of the Farm Show. After
a number of meetings the Committee was
successful in having the law amended to
the satisfaction of the llama community. In
addition the Committee was successful in
obtaining permission for the llama industry
to display llamas at the Farm Show.”

PAGE 17

THE LAMA LETTER

Dick Snyder Tribute

con’t from p. 17

“As a result of this law being thrust upon the PA llama
community, a number of PA llama producers felt that we
needed to form a PA Llama organization to keep a watchful
eye on regulations that would impact the llama industry.”
“Again Dick Snyder stepped forward to help form the
Pennsylvania Llama and Alpaca Association. PLAA was
incorporated in the Commonwealth of PA as a Not-for
Profit Corporation in 1995.”
“Once again Dick stepped forward and agreed to serve as
one of the founding members and a member of the first
Board of Directors of PLAA.”
Chuck echoes what others remember -- that Dick Snyder
always stepped forward “with his time, talent, and treasure.”
Dan Goodyear, former President of PLAA and GALA Board
Member, who, along with Chuck Leach, Dick, and others
founded PLAA recalls: “Dick was a perennial supporter of
llama events. Dick was intelligent, enthusiastic llama lover
and a perpetual supporter of animal heath, marketing, and
showing.”
Karen O’Neill and Dick Snyder Co-Chaired the 1998
GALA Conference. Karen recalls how this came about. “I
first met Dick in 1995 when he offered to help with the first
Eastern Llama and Alpaca Festival held in 1996 at my farm.
Dick served on this committee from 1996-1998.This festival
was put on each May and attended by thousands.”
Because Karen and Dick had developed a great working
relationship, they agreed to Co-Chair the 1998 Wilkes Barre
“Meet Me in the Woods” GALA Conference. The next year,
GALA partnered with LAMAS for a joint Conference in
Lancaster, PA. Karen co-chaired this event with Dick on her
Conference Committee.

For those of us who knew Dick principally through llamas,
we were somewhat unaware of his very active involvement
in the Milford, PA community. A celebration of his life was
held shortly after his death at the downtown Milford Hotel
Fauchere, a Dick Snyder owned and restored old hotel. Here
the first class dining fare was complemented by the organic
herbs and vegetables grown on his farm.
At this event, his non-llama friends and colleagues recalled
the leadership and treasure that he had given to this
community. Dick served on the boards of Pinchot Institute
for Conservation, Historic Preservation Trust of Pike County.
Perhaps his most meaningful contribution was the founding
and chairing of the Milford Enhancement Committee to
“gentrify” Milford so that it would be a better place to live,
visit, and do business. According to Milford Now reporting:
This Committee, over 17 years, raised and invested $6 million
to improve Milford’s streetscapes and public spaces.
In addition to his devotion to revitalizing Milford, Dick,
inspired by a close relative with Multiple Sclerosis, involved
himself in helping to find a cure.
Dan Goodyear points out: “Unknown to many, Dick served
for many years on the National Board of the Multiple
Sclerosis Society and quietly gave time, energy, and financial
support to advance the cure of the disease.”
Planning is underway for a Celebration of Dick’s life and a
Memorial Service at his beloved Foster Hill llama farm on
May 3rd. Perhaps it will be held high on a hill overlooking
the historic farm house, the restored barn, the organic
gardens, the orchard, the flower gardens, and the white
gate that allowed visitors onto Llama Lane to enjoy Dick’s
wonderful Open Barn Days with his pastures of llamas.
Details of the May 3rd event are listed on our events calendar
on page 22. Updates will be posted on the PLAA and GALA
websites at www.plaa-net.org and www.galaonline.org

Some of Dick’s llamas on his Foster Farm hill top field. Photo: Jane Hamilton-Merritt