Mr. Snyder attended Gulf High School. He graduated in 1965 as the salutatorian and he was named Best All-Around Student.
Mr. Snyder’s father, Rudolph L. Snyder, graduated from Gulf in 1931 as the valedictorian.
Rudy Snyder came to New Port Richey with his parents, who had adopted him, in the 1920s. He later recalled that there were only five paved streets in New Port Richey then. He lived on Tennessee Avenue, which was one of the dirt roads. Les Snyder says that, even though his father was the valedictorian, he only attended Gulf High School one day per week. Because of the depression, he had to work on a poultry farm.
Rudy Snyder left Florida in 1932 and moved to Ohio. On the drive back to Ohio, with belongings strapped to the roof of his car, he was stopped by police in North or South Carolina as part of a dragnet searching for the kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby. In Ohio he met and married his wife Mabel. Les was born in New London, Ohio. In 1954, the Snyders moved back to New Port Richey.
Les Snyder attended elementary school at Pierce Elementary School, which is now the New Port Richey Public Library. In November 1957, the students transferred to the newly-constructed Richey Elementary School, several blocks north of Pierce Elementary. Les Snyder believes he was in the fourth grade when the move occurred, and he recalls that he and his classmates carried the library books from the old building to the new one.
At Gulf High School, Les Snyder played football and baseball and ran track. His baseball coach was Tom Weightman, who later became the county superintendent of schools. He played football games at Pinecrest and East Bay, and at Pasco High School when the current stadium was brand new. A teacher he especially liked was Jack Moss, who taught business law and was head of the social studies department for many years. Les’ classmates included John Gallagher, currently the Pasco County Administrator, Dr. Robert Goluba, Abby Meismer, and Richard Marchman, a son of Fred Marchman.
Mr. Snyder attended the University of Florida, where he majored in political science. He served in the U. S. Air Force from 1970 to 1973 as a radio traffic analyst. Holding a top secret security clearance, he was a radio traffic analyst, analyzing intercepted voice and Morse code communications from North Vietnam. He was stationed at Hakata, Japan, and Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and served a temporary duty in Thailand.
Mr. Snyder taught for two years at Gulf Junior High School. He taught science to ninth graders in 1981-82 and 1982-83. At the start of the 1983-84 school year, Gulf Junior High became a middle school, teaching students in grades six through eight, and the ninth grade students began attending Gulf High School. At that time, Mr. Snyder transferred to Gulf High School.
Asked to compare the Gulf High School of today to the Gulf High School he attended, Mr. Snyder said that academics have greatly improved, with more advanced courses being offered now. Athletics have also improved, with more opportunities for girls. He said that discipline is weaker today.
Mr. Snyder has lived in the same house in New Port Richey since 1955. His hobbies include competitive three-gun shooting (rifle, pistol, and shotgun). He says he shoots two pistol matches every month and one rifle match per month. He formerly did competitive drag racing before taking up shooting. He says that in retirement he expects to travel and ride his motorcycle.
In 1979 the Gulf High School baseball field was named Rudy Snyder field, for Mr. Snyder’s father, who was president of the Gulf booster club. Rudy Snyder also oversaw the construction of the recently-demolished concrete stadium behind what is now Schwettman Education Center. He also did most of the actual work in building it. Les Snyder, who drew up the plans for the stadium, said he hopes that if the Gulf softball field is ever named for someone, it will be named for Steve Booth and Clarence Moody, who he said did 99% of the work in constructing Des Little Stadium.