April 22, 2016 | By Chuck Carlson
Marilyn Snodgrass lived a life of quiet determination as an elementary school teacher, traveler and lover of genealogy.
But her gift to Albion College has shown that even those who live unobtrusively can indeed make the biggest impact.
“She was a very quiet person but she just loved to travel and she could fit in a [travel] group,” said Janice Miller, Marilyn’s cousin. “That gave her joy. She was a worldwide traveler. She had been to China, Mexico, Ireland and Scotland and England. She went all over.
“And she was an avid reader also,” Janice continued. “She read right up to the end. She was reading big-print books and she would get mad because libraries didn’t have big-print books for the authors she liked.”
Traveling and reading—for Marilyn Snodgrass, ’49 (right), that was almost enough. What made her life complete, though, was her nearly 40 years as an elementary school teacher in Mount Clemens and Redford.
And those aspects of life came into focus for Snodgrass, who passed away October 24, 2015 in Farmington Hills at the age of 88, when she recalled to friends and family just how important Albion College had been in her formative years. She never married and her family was small and scattered, so when she died Snodgrass left the bulk of her generous estate to Albion for whatever needs the school deemed appropriate.
“I have all her college yearbooks and I have some of the scrapbooks, too,” Janice said. “I know she played the flute and the piano and I know how much she loved Albion. She loved being part of the [Kappa Delta] sorority. She was very into that. She liked the small school. For her, Albion was the school in Michigan.”
After graduating with a bachelor of arts in music, Marilyn eventually earned her master of arts in elementary education from Eastern Michigan University. But in the interim, she taught first grade at Donaldson School in Mount Clemens and also helped to form a school for base personnel at the Selfridge Air Force Base outside town. She taught first grade there in her spare time.
In 1953, she started teaching K-6 in Redford and remained there until her retirement around 1980.
Bob Anderson, Albion’s vice president for alumni relations and development, said the generous gift will have a sustaining and powerful impact on the College.
“When someone goes into teaching, every life they touch is part of their legacy,” he said. “That’s a remarkable way to change the world. But Marilyn wanted to do even more. She wanted to touch the lives of students at Albion College, and her gift will help leave the world a better place.
“There are very few places in the world that have the impact on peoples’ lives that Albion College has had,” Anderson added, “and that’s because of people like Marilyn Snodgrass.”