Looking back on the life of a Warrior


Photo courtesy of Brian Krause

Dave Snowden, Student Services specialist, always had bubbles in his desk. He kept them on hand so that anyone who was stresed out could visit his desk and blow bubbles, Kate Beley, Special Resources Center counselor, said.

Snowden, a man who cared deeply about others, died on Feb. 10 as a result of cardiac arrest.

Since then, the campus has mourned the loss.

He “wore his heart on his sleeve,” Bill Mulrooney, director of Admissions and Records, said. “His death was unexpected, and it shocked everybody. It hurt us to the core.”

Born and raised in New England, Snowden spent four decades at EC.

“Dave came here in the early ‘70s after he served in [the] army,” Mulrooney said. “He is probably one of the most invaluable people anybody would want to meet.”

Several faculty members recounted rib-tickling memories involving Snowden. Mulrooney laughed as he talked about Snowden’s love for April fools jokes.

“He once put out that he was retiring effective June 31st. Some people caught it. They realized, well, June ends on June 30th,” Mulrooney said. “We were always on our guard on April 1st.”

That’s why the first of April was the date chosen for Snowden’s memorial service, Mulrooney said. It will be noon to 1 p.m. in the East Dining Room April 1.

His love of practical jokes was well known and Beley chuckled as she remembered one of Snowden’s recent antics during a staff meeting.

Beley was facing outside, responding to the director as she saw Snowden outside, voicing and acting out the dance to “YMCA.” Beley had a difficult time keeping her composure and responding appropriately to her director. “I am trying to talk and Dave is doing that,” Beley said. “I was trying to make sentences.”

Espe Nieto, assistant director of Admissions and Records, recalled a time when she heard a phone conversation Snowden had and she told him to lower his voice. Snowden said to the person on the other end of the line, “OK, my boss is telling me I am talking too loud, but I’m not.”

“So he had a big voice,” Nieto said. “He had a bigger heart.”

Repeated by many people, Snowden was warm, benevolent, comical, and dilengent in innumerable ways.

His work ethic and problem solving skills were outstanding.

“A lot of times the academic division offices would call him with a problem and it was so rare that he couldn’t solve it,” Mulrooney said.

Snowden had a myriad of interests and responsibilities: He roller skated, taught water aerobics at the YMCA, co-advised the veterans club on campus, since he was a veteran himself, and was interested in photography.

He also enjoyed music, which was something he shared with Beley.

“We had similar tastes in music, and when he passed away the one thing that I thought about was the Beatles’ song called ‘The End’ where they say ‘the love you take is equal to the love you make’ and that’s kind of like Dave to me,” Beley said.

The community came together after Snowden’s death to find loving homes for his animals. He had two dogs – Henry and Aggie – and three cats – Cryer, Chicken, and Scruffy.

“He would basically let them roam around the house, and I remember one time he told me that he didn’t lock his back door. I said, ‘Dave, that is not safe. You need to lock your door.’ He said, ‘If they can get by my Doberman Pinscher, then they can come in,’” Nieto said.

Debbie Turano, senior clerical assistant, along with other members of the community, worked to “spread the need (of finding homes for his pets) as widely as possible.” She did so by networking with the EC community.

“A lot of people were concerned about his pets, so I sent out an email asking for people to adopt the animals, and one of the police officers here at El Camino adopted both dogs together,” Turano said. “Another faculty member adopted one of the cats and the other two cats are going to be adopted by somebody from another college that was an acquaintance of Dave’s.”

Jan Caldwell, the police officer that adopted the dogs, decided that she could no longer house Henry since he was trained as a guard dog but she said, “he is a nice dog, beautiful dog.”

“It’s breaking our hearts to get rid of Henry,” she said. “We really tried.”

She and her husband are currently looking for a new home for Henry, but she must give him up by tomorrow.

Caldwell knew Snowden for about 35 years.

“I was a police cadet here 100 years ago and he was working here part-time,” Caldwell said.

Turano, and her husband Carl Turano, instigated the project to find homes for the animals, in part due to her knowledge and connections.

“My husband and I work with feral cats on campus,” she said. “I have become known as the cat person or the animal person.”

Turano is “thankful for people that cared and were willing to step up and help, especially for those that were willing to adopt the animals, which is the most important thing for them.”

Snowden’s love of both people and animals defined him.

“He had so much (love) that he was giving to people all the time,” Beley said, “and I’m hoping that he got as much love back.”

UPDATED March 10, 8 a.m.: The previous version of this article stated Snowden’s memorial service is from 1 to 2 p.m. April 1. It has been changed to the correct time, noon to 1 p.m.