Dr. Hugh Philip Snyder

Date of Birth

November 7, 1928

Hugh Philip Snyder was born in Milford, Indiana on November 7, 1928 where he was also raised. His father, Dr. Hugh Clifton Snyder, was a beloved small town dentist and his mother Marion was a music teacher. His parents were both descendants of the first settlers in the Indiana Territory and generations had thrived in the Northeastern part of the state, an area rich with Native American life and lore, as well as with settlements of horse and buggy Amish communities. His origins with diverse relatives in a woodland agricultural region rich in prehistoric and historic romance were a lifelong influence on this character.

Hugh’s midwestern reserve belied a lifetime of pranks and adventures too numerous (and even some undignified) to tell. He was an astounding master of the boogie-woogie piano and called his band “Hugh’s Herd”. They played for many nearby groups at local dances. He could play other instruments including, brass and string.

Hugh graduated from Purdue University and following in his father’s path he attended dental school at Indiana University. He was a star athlete, particularly in track and field events. He joined the U. S. Navy and was the dental officer on the troop transport ship USS Randall where he obtained a lifetime of dental practice in a short period of time. In due time Lt. Snyder received an honorable discharge in spite of a possible court martial for smuggling a new 1953 Jaguar XK120 in the hold of the ship on the trip back from England. His experience as a dentist inspired him to drive the XK120 back to Indiana University to pursue graduate studies in oral surgery.

A friend from dental school persuaded him to come to Santa Barbara. They crawled west, earning their keep in jazz clubs and dive bars.

His oral surgery practice was in immediate demand and he helped thousands of patients until his retirement. He first arrived in October 1960 and lived at the University Club. During that period he joined his Indiana friend and fraternity brother, Dr. Bob Kuhn, a local orthodontist, who was also living at the University Club. In 1969-70 he was President of the Club, and after 50 years of membership he was made a member Emeritus.

Hugh met his future wife and life-time companion Christel Schoellhorn in 1964 as a patient. He helped design a beautiful redwood home on Campanil Hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands. They loved to travel and made several trips to Germany where Christel was born and lived prior to coming to California. They were married over 50 years prior to her passing in 2018. For the last seven years they lived at Valle  Verde, a beautiful retirement community. From there he could see his house on the hill above him.

Hugh remained an athlete his entire life. He loved skiing, backpacking, tennis, swimming, sailing and pickle ball. He commissioned a ketch in Norway, an oak vessel capable of any sea, yet blessed to sail with him in the local channel.

After his retirement he advanced his love of music and practicing the cello. Eventually, he auditioned with the local symphony for a seat. Unable to join as a cellist, he discovered they needed a tuba player, so he purchased a tuba and a euphonium, practiced and in a very short order was seated. With a foot in the door, he eventually obtained a seat as a cellist. Like his father, he also sang in the choir of the Methodist Church and sang baritone. Both of them were deeply faithful.

He is survived and missed by many friends and family, by his niece, nephew and great nieces and nephews. He was adored and admired, a legend to us all. Friends and family are invited to celebrate his and Christel’s life on Friday, March 11th at 3 pm at the University Club.

All are invited to the Memorial service Saturday, March 12 th at 2 pm at the First United Methodist Church, his beloved choir will be singing with a reception to follow in fellowship hall.


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