Don and Dee Snyder Elementary School can be proud of its namesakes

Updated March 18, 2018 - 5:02 pm

In 2004, Don and Dee Snyder discussed their next philanthropic commitments and decided to write two checks that day, a $1 million check to help build The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and another for $1 million to the UNLV Foundation.

“It had to be the best day of our lives,” Don Snyder said, adding that $2 million was a high percentage of their net worth.

He was heading both fundraising efforts and knew that if he was going to be asking for money “it was important to show that I had done the same.”

Countless honors have come their way during his career as a banker, Boyd Gaming executive, acting UNLV president, dean of the UNLV Hotel College, adviser to the UNLV president and philanthropist.

Their biggest honor? The one that touches their hearts the most?

They’ve had a school named after them: Don and Dee Snyder Elementary School in southwest Las Vegas.

“I can’t think of any bigger honor than to have a school named after us,” said the man who was named philanthropist of the year in 2013 by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Tuesday is the formal dedication of the school, which opened in January at 8951 W. Ford Ave., and the couple couldn’t be happier. Or prouder of the particular school that bears their names. Some 355 people are expected to attend and honor the couple.

It’s a STEAM school with a robotics program. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

“There are not many robotics programs in elementary schools in Nevada, and the kids love it. Kids are so intrigued by the increasing capacity of technology. It’s a very tech-savvy school,” said Terra Cook, a gifted-education specialist at the school.

The Snyders plan to be very active at the school, Dee especially. They described the joy of walking through the school and being greeted by enthusiastic elementary students.

“When it comes to naming a school, I can’t imagine a more deserving couple than Don and Dee. They have, as a team, helped countless organizations around the valley for many years,” wrote Myron Martin, the president and CEO at the Smith Center.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Don for 20 years now and can tell you that he is the hardest-working, most prepared, most caring business executive I have ever known. There wouldn’t be a Smith Center without him,” Martin emphasized.

Longtime schools supporter

Martin reminded me that Don Snyder played an instrumental role in helping the Clark County School District shape its bond offering, when new schools were greatly needed.

“So the guy who helped the city to build new schools more than a decade ago now has a new school named after him and his extraordinary wife and partner, Dee,” Martin wrote.

The Snyders, married in 1971, have engaged in philanthropic efforts since moving to Las Vegas in 1987 and even before that during their 18 years in California. The couple, who met at a California bank, where she was a teller and he was entering a bank management program, have always worked together to improve their community. Theirs is a true partnership.

Education, culture, social infrastructure are all part of building a community, the Snyders believe, and that’s the philosophy that guides the philanthropic decisions they make. They’ve found that it’s easier to ask others for money if they have donated first.

The Snyders were the first million-dollar donors for the Smith Center, the first founders, even before the Reynolds Foundation launched its $150 million donation. Don Snyder headed the fundraising effort for the center.

The center is named after newspaper executive Fred Smith and his wife, Mary, and they were so impressed “that Dee and I made our $1 million personal commitment that he and Mary committed a personal gift of $1 million,” Don Snyder said.

Humble upbringings

The Snyders didn’t inherit fortunes. They come from humble beginnings. Don Snyder’s dad was a farmer in South Dakota, and the family had no running water for the first three years of his life. He put himself through college. Her mother was a nurse, her father a factory worker.

They worked for what they have, raising three children.

Many wonder why he doesn’t run for politics. He knows numbers, understands policy and communicates clearly. Dee Snyder would be a huge asset, able to talk to anyone anytime about anything.

He has a well-crafted answer because it’s a question he’s often asked: “I’d rather define myself by the work I do than have a political opponent define me by what they don’t want me to do.”

Through their philanthropy, the Snyders have made this a better community in countless ways. Students attending the Don and Dee Snyder Elementary School can be proud of their school’s namesakes.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column runs Sundays in the Nevada section. Contact her at jane@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275. Follow @janeannmorrison on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like