Larry Snow, R.I.P.

Larry Snow

A Columbus Day obituary announced the death of former Huntley School Board member Larry Snow. He died October 4 in his home.

A resident of Lake in the Hills, Snow entered the public consciousness when he discovered that the Huntley School officials were not being straight with voters over a tax increase referendum.

At his own expense, he mailed out a multi-page analysis of the tax hike proposal, which passed despite his opposition.

Then, he decided to run for the District 158 School Board, where he won a seat.

Snow was known for asking tough questions as he tried to bring accountability and transparency to District 158 affairs.

Snow spent considerable time and effort in Springfield figuring out how to rectify the false advertising contained in the tax hike referendum language he fought prior to his election.  He calculated would motivate various state legislators and did so, even when it resulted in political harm to his personal ambitions.

He negotiated the guts of the non-certified employee contract, which was accomplished without conflict.

When a Board vacancy occurred, Snow’s persuasive talents managed to convince his fellow board members (political adversaries, many votes were 6-1 or 5-2) to appoint his Political Action Committee Treasurer Tony Quagliano to the seat.  Quagliano later joined the Board majority and was named its Vice President.

Snow put on a full-court press to elect two allies, Aileen Seedorf and Linda Moore, during the next election.  Seedorf, a community activist who often spoke at school board meetings, was elected, while Moore lost by just two handfuls of votes. In the process School Board President Mike Skala lost to one of his running mates.  The running mate resigned about six months later and the Board appointed Skala to the vacancy.

In the only instance of which I am aware locally, the proposed teachers’ contract was made public before ratification by the school board and the teachers’ union.  [That seems quite important to me, since teacher salaries and benefits account for most of schools’ budgets.]  Snow initiated that effort.

Snow was disappointed that enough members of the board reneged on the salary offer after reaching agreement that annual increases should be set at the level of inflation (increase in the CPL).  Instead, increases were set at 5%, plus the level of inflation, if my memory serves me correctly.

Two years later, Skala challenged Snow in a one-on-one race and defeated his re-election effort.  The campaign was as intense as one for state representative and the teachers union and their allies turned the election into a blood sport.  $8,500 was spent on Skala’s campaign.

After his loss, Snow wrote a book on what he thought was needed to improve education in the United States and articles for online “The Champion.”

One article in which put extensive effort involving the examination of scores of teacher contracts from the largest school districts in Illinois.  He sought to discover if teachers or taxpayers were paying the share teachers were statutorily required to pay. The results are summarized in the title of my article on his research:

39% of Illinois Teachers Pay Nothing for Pensions

He also looked at schools with poor test results and found out if teachers or taxpayers were making the Teacher Retirement System payments.  You can find it here.

Snow was a patient at Sherman Hospital this summer where he had an operation to relieve pressure in his head.

Upon release, his older sister Elizabeth Sniegoski came to stay with him.

He then re-wrote the introductory chapter of his book.  He was talking about one of his daughter’s father-in-law arranging to publish it online, but I do not know if that has been accomplished.  If he did, I am sure Snow would be pleased.

When I last had lunch with him at Colonial Cafe in Algonquin, he explained how he, as a very junior employee with Schering Plough he had come up with the suggestion of a new class drug, rather than trying to fit it into an existing class.

Larry Snow

Going back farther in time, he told me of realizing the way he was being taught algebra in his Catholic boys school was not working.  He went to the Harvard Book Store and searched until he could find a book he could understand.  Snow went on to get a chemical engineering degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Snow was a successful software salesman. although he detested my use of the word “salesman” to describe what I thought he explained he did.

He told me of some of his presentations for Green Hills Software, a position he resigned in order to have more flexibility to take his daughters to tennis matches around the country.

He was quite disappointed that he did not get to attend his daughter’s recent wedding.

He had three daughters–Stacy Peters, Trina Geatz and Kerry Snow–and a granddaughter named Caroline Peters.   Besides his sister, he has a brother, Vincent Snow, who survives him.

Once, I saw a card on display that one of his daughter ‘s wrote to him which said, “Dad, you were always there for me.”

He was so proud of their accomplishments.

Snow was 61 when he died.


Larry Snow, R.I.P. — 9 Comments

  1. Larry and I certainly had our share of battles over style and tactics, but I always admired his drive, intelligence, and conservative priciples.

    Most importantly, from personal conversations we had, I believe he put his faith in Jesus Christ- which means he is in a much better place now. Prayers for his family.

  2. May Larry Snow Rest In Peace!

    Mr. Green, it is good to see that no matter what battles were had, that you can say such kind words.

    I believe that Mr. Snow is in a better place!

    I pray for his family and for all those who worked closely with Mr. Snow.

    He will certainly be missed.

  3. So very sad. Larry never lost sight that education is about the children not the adults.

    RIP Larry and thank you for all that you have done!

  4. Larry and I had only 2-3 phone conversations, but I recognized him as a man with a heart and with passion.

    We last spoke on June 8, and I’m sorry that I never got to meet him in person.

  5. I am very sorry that I did not have an opportunity to attend Larry’s services and pay my respects to Larry’s family.

    My thanks to Mr. Skinner for providing such a wonderful retrospective of Larry Snow’s intellectual, as well as public service contributions.

    Larry’s sincerity in contributing to his community by raising questions and challenging the status quo were evident to me on the several occasions that we talked.

    He has left an important legacy by taking the stand that differences challenge assumptions which in so many ways makes our community stronger and better.

  6. Somewhere, every day, an imperfect person, an imperfect hero “rides into town” to battle evil and/or corruption.

    Whether it be fighting in a war, taking on elected officials, or smaller, daily scuffles, people who will never make world news come and go.

    Many are thrilled to have “someone else” take a stand while “we” remain safe and silent and free to spend our time only as “we” choose.

    When it becomes socially challenging to stand beside those imperfect heroes who do what they have to do to make things better, “we” want them to be silent.

    “We” aren’t in it for the long run but they are.

    They know when things are still wrong, “we” want things all tidied up with a pretty bow.

    It’s easier not knowing what is still going on.

    After all, being an imperfect hero means getting one’s hands dirty, being assertive, walking against the wind and doing the hard work.

    In one Western film, the hero was far less than perfect. He rode into town and when all of the bad guys were taken care of at big risk to his own life, the towns’ people pretty much wanted him to move on. So much for appreciation.

    As I recall, the apostles weren’t perfect men. Neither were King Arthur’s Knights. Or any men or women who fought or fight our wars.

    I feel very very lucky to have known Larry Snow. If you ever meet someone like him, cherish them and don’t be so quick to move away.

    Better yet, become an imperfect hero yourself.

    The world needs more heroes.

    I only wish I had met him sooner.

  7. So sad to hear the news about Mr. Snow. Heaven has another tax-fighter and education reformist. He will be missed.

  8. Speaking for myself and my sisters, thank you Cal for writing this in memory of our father.

    He respected you so much and considered you a true friend and confidant.

    It’s nice to see he was respected in his community and the contributions he made.

    The three of us have never lived in IL and he has never lived by famiiy so he truly was only involved because of his passion for doing what he thought was right and had no alterior motive that I could ascertain.

    I know he’s upset a lot of people along the road and wasn’t always easy to deal with but he continued on his quest to fix the education system until the day he died.

    All three of us girls have attended top notch schools, (Wellesley, Georgetown, Dartmouth) and are very successful on our own that we know his drive for success and perfection had a huge offect on who we are today.

    Again, thank you so much for caring. It means a lot to me.

    I lost more than I could have imagined and if you’re watching, dad, I hope you’re proud of me.

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