By Adam Strunk
Don Snapp lived his beliefs.
Friends and colleagues repeated the sentiment over and over when asked to describe the long-time attorney, public defender, Kiwanian, Lions Club member, Knight of Columbus and Newton booster that passed away Jan. 15 from complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 68.
“He’s always been for the underdog,” fellow attorney and friend, Harold Schorn said. Schorn described how Snapp spent his career taking difficult and court-appointed cases when other attorneys had moved on to more profitable and easier clients. Schorn said Snapp took on such cases because, as a devoted Catholic, he believed in serving people.
“He had a commitment to help others and a religious base to help others,” Schorn said. “It’s hard to struggle with those jobs and payments. But, he had the perseverance to keep taking them because they wear on you.”
Schorn described Snapp as a talented attorney, one people might not initially notice.
“Some people think he was kind of goofy and scatter brained at times,” he said. “But, he had a brilliant mind.”
That ability drew the respect of other colleagues in the community.
“We’d be joking around at lunch and someone would just bring up that Don won another court-appointed jury trial,” fellow attorney Tim Hodge said. “That doesn’t sound like much to regular people, but for those of us who practice and get the deck of cards associated with a court-appointed case, usually there’s very little a lawyer can do but to get the best deal possible. He could articulate why certain behaviors are unconstitutional and could point out the hypocrisies among people.’
Hodge said Snapp had strong beliefs and supported them through action. Hodge, outside of his law career, knew Snapp as a committed member of the Democratic Party, who spent many hours signing up people to vote.
The guy actually walked the walk.
“He and I would sit and talk about how people just want to talk about fixing stuff and complain,” Hodge said. “The next thing you know, he and I would be out on hot days registering people to vote. For him to die this early is a severe disappointment.”
Anita Haury, Democratic Party chair, said the loss of Snapp leaves a hole not only in the local party organization, but the overall community.
“During election cycles, he was always picking up call lists, walk lists and bringing one back,” she said. “First of all, just because he was such a good person. Everybody says that when people die, but he was just a very kind person. He was always positive about people and polite and considerate.”
Snapp was a man who dedicated himself to his beliefs. That could be helping out the less fortunate, progressive politics or supporting the local Kiwanis club. He sold a lot of pancake tickets.
“When I took care of the pancake tickets, he was always going into our office to get more tickets,” Jeanette Friesen said. Friesen knew Snapp since joining the Kiwanis Club in Newton in 2010. “He had a passion for Kiwanis and our mission for helping children. He was involved there. He always wanted to support the club in whatever way he could.”
She said he was always willing to help out in club activities and supported its mission.
“In community involvement, he was trying to do whatever he could to support his passion and one of those passions was Kiwanis,” she said. “Obviously, there’s a real hole there because who’s going to step up?”
When Snapp wasn’t helping the community, he enjoyed live music. Snapp sponsored Blues Brews and Barbecue, an annual music festival in Newton. He also attended countless live music events.
“I guarantee you there wasn’t a weekend Don wasn’t at a music show somewhere,” friend, Mike White said. “He’d buy a handful of tickets and if someone couldn’t go, you’d see him online offering them. I’d say, ‘what do I owe you, Don,’ and he’d say, ‘I didn’t say you were buying them. I said if you wanted them.’ He had a big heart. I don’t think he had an enemy anywhere and if he did, they didn’t know him.
He loved the community, he loved his job and he was just an all-around good guy.”
For more information about Snapp, his family and his funeral arrangements, please see his obituary published in this week’s paper.