Shirley Snyder Garver

Shirley Snyder Garver of West Chatham died on October 16, 2021, four weeks after her 96th birthday.
Born September 18, 1925 to Lillie Bloyer Snyder and Joseph Christian Snyder in their home in Hagerstown, Maryland, Shirley was the eighth of nine children and outlived them all. Shirley will be forever known as “Peggy” to the Snyder family; Joe had wanted to name her Margaret, so he simply called her Peggy and it stuck.
Shirley met her one and only love, Jack, at Sunday school when they were 2. (Readers might remember Jack’s obituary from earlier this year; he died just ten weeks before she did.) The pair attended school together (mostly) and Shirley was the girl who waited while he went off to win the War.
In high school, Shirley excelled in all of her classes and also enjoyed writing for the school newspaper, performing in the Dramatic Society, and playing field hockey and volleyball. She majored in Social Work at Western Maryland College and formed lifelong friendships with the other members of the Phi Alpha Mu sorority (the Purple Cows). In her senior year, the stunning brunette was elected Queen of the May and Jack was her dashing king.
Shirley and Jack were married on August 21, 1948 and moved to Pittsburgh, where Jack completed his education at Carnegie Tech and the bride embarked on her teaching career. They moved to Baltimore and their first daughter, Kristen, soon joined the family. Shirley began teaching at the Calvert School, which Kristen attended, and the trio (plus beloved cocker spaniel Kippi) spent idyllic summers at Hyde Bay Camp in Cooperstown, New York. Dachshund Schroeder and baby Jan arrived exactly one year apart, in 1964 and 1965, and in the summer of 1966, the family of six relocated to The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where Jack was to be the chairman of the Art department.
Shirley taught at Miss Mason’s School in Princeton, where Jan eventually became a student, and in 1974 joined Jack on the faculty at Lawrenceville as the second female teacher in the 1810-founded prep school’s history. She earned accreditation in TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language), becoming and remaining the school’s sole ESL instructor until her retirement in 1990. Shirley also served as the only English teacher for students with learning disabilities and tutored many of the boys after supper and on weekends. Despite her many responsibilities, Shirley never failed to create phenomenal dinners that astounded everyone. It was said about her that she could walk into an empty pantry and make a great meal.
Chez Garv became a haven for many displaced international students over school vacations. No holiday was complete without at least one. Shirley’s effect on her students was remarkable. Since Jack’s death, many of them have shared with her daughters their gratitude for Shirley’s patience and indefatigable desire to see “her kids” overcome obstacles and succeed.
The family enjoyed spending summers in its little piece of heaven in Half Island Cove, Nova Scotia and on Cape Cod, where Shirley and Jack built their retirement home in 1978. After their permanent move, Shirley availed herself of classes in astronomy and literature and devoted many years to volunteering for the Chatham Council on Aging’s FISH program. Shirley and Jack traveled together to France, England, Wales, and Scotland in 1985 and celebrated their 50th anniversary in the U.K. They spent part of many winters in Sarasota. Everywhere she went, Shirley delighted in the local wildlife and was an avid birder. Now she and Jack are continuing their journey together.
Kristen and Jan (and, of course, Jack’s teddy bear, Biff, who was adored by his mother) welcome remembrances of both of their parents at and ask that any donations be made in Shirley’s memory to one of the following charities for the critters who brought her so much joy, or to your favorite local animal shelter: MassAudubon: (781-259-2124); Turtles Fly Too: (208-484-7774); National Marine Life Center: (508-743-9888); Wildcare: (508-240-2255).
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