YORK – Helen V. G. (Shearer) Snyder, 94, of York, passed away Friday, May 18, 2018 in York. She was the wife of the late Elmer E. Snyder.
Helen was born June 8, 1923 outside of Jacobus and was the daughter of the late Fred and Ruth (Hildenbrand) Shearer. Helen was the fourth-oldest of twelve children, and grew up on a farm that is now covered by Lake Redman. She is survived by her two sisters, Norma Jean Ayres and Joanne Smith both of York and her two brothers, Jack Shearer and Jerry Shearer both of York. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Gladys, Dorcas, Nedra, and June and her brothers, Russel, William, and Dane. Helen was only twenty when her mother died, and she helped to raise and care for her younger brothers and sisters during World War II when there was not always enough for her family to eat. Early tragedy became a blessing, as she and all of her siblings were a tight-knit group that stuck together and helped one another throughout their lives. All twelve lived (and continue to live) in York County and saw each other several times each week and twice a year for family reunions that now draw around one hundred people. Helen was very proud of her family.
Helen was also devoted to her own family in ways that cannot be described in just a few words. She moved to her husband’s farm in 1946 and lived there for the next seventy years until she could no longer stay by herself. Elmer Snyder worked at New York Wire, but defined himself first and foremost as a farmer. He and Helen ran a truck farm, raising acres of dahlias, vegetables and sweet corn, among other crops. They also raised sheep and cattle, and farmed with horses into the 1950’s. Helen had strong ties to her farm and kept the house and yard in immaculate condition. Into her eighties, she could still mow the steep banks of her property with a push mower and could outwork most twenty year olds. She also helped her son and grandson on their own farms and always made sure that they had enough to eat and drink.
In addition to her work as a farmer, Helen was employed at Danskin for over 20 years until she retired in 1985. But Helen’s real career was caring for people. It was a successful career by any measure. Helen is survived by her son Jeffrey Snyder of York; two grandchildren, Laura Helen Fisher and Alex Snyder; and four great grandchildren, Anna Helen Fisher, Lily Fisher, Luke Snyder and Sylvie Snyder. Elmer was much older than Helen and, towards the end of his life, he was worn out from a life of hard work. After her retirement, Helen cared for Elmer until his passing in 1989. During this time and afterwards, Helen helped to watch her grandchildren who got off the school bus at her farm every day. In many ways, she was more like a second mother than a grandmother. In her later years, Helen babysat a number of young children of friends and family members. After Elmer passed, Helen had a companion, Joseph Wolfe, who doted on her until he died in 2000. Helen’s own experience with hunger during her early years made her love to feed everyone she could as much as possible. She made lunch (dinner as she called it) for her son and grandson every day until she could no longer cook. She was also an expert baker.
Helen was a very social person. Although she showed her love by constantly worrying about her family, it did not take much to make her happy. She was most content working in her yard, cooking for her family, and sitting on her front porch. She did not get on a plane until her seventies. In addition to her brothers, sisters, and their spouses, Helen had a number of friends. She and Elmer liked to play cards with other couples and host cookouts at their farm and Helen kept an active social life into her old age. She enjoyed yard sales, going for drives, and the company of her friends and family whom she liked to host and visit with as much as possible.
Helen left her mark on a lot of people by showing them the value of family bonds, love and hard work. She had a long life that was not always easy, but she certainly gave the people around her much more than she took from them. Her family members are truly thankful to have had her in their lives for so long.
Helen’s funeral service will begin at 10:00 AM Thursday May 24, 2018 at Mount Zion Lutheran Church, 2164 Mount Zion Road, York, where she was a member for over 70 years. Visitation will be from 8:30 to 10:00 AM Thursday at the church. Burial will be in Mount Zion Cemetery. Officiating at the service will be her pastor The Reverend Brian A. McClinton. Memorial contributions can be made to Mount Zion Lutheran Church. Arrangements have been entrusted to The Diehl Funeral Home & Cremation Center of Mount Wolf.