Locals remember elder Snider as ‘quiet guy … who got along with everybody’

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RANGELY | Wes Torsell had only good things to say about his neighbor Jerry Snider Sr.
Torsell lived next door to Snider Sr. on Darius Avenue in Rangely.
“I was a neighbor for three years,” Torsell said of Snider Sr. “I saw him every day. We always said hello. I think you would probably hear from 100 percent of the people who knew him that he was a great guy. He never talked bad about anybody. He was hard working. He was constantly doing things around the house. There wasn’t one time he didn’t ask me if I needed help if he saw me outside doing something. During that bad winter we had a couple of years ago, he pretty much plowed the snow for everybody in the neighborhood.”
Torsell last saw Snider Sr. on July 2, the day before authorities found his body in the living room of his house.
“He was in his truck driving to work, I believe,” Torsell said. “He looked like he was heading out to the mine. Those are the people who knew him the best, the miners.”
Snider Sr. worked at the Deserado Mine for nearly 20 years. Jeff Rector of Rangely, who used to work at the mine, knew the elder Snider.
“Jerry was kind of one of those guys who always had a smile on his face, just a carefree soul,” Rector said. “I can’t imagine anybody trying to hurt that guy.”
Dylan Smuts, a 1998 Rangely High School graduate, who worked with Snider Sr. at the mine, knew the younger Snider from school.
“I knew his kid first. We were the same age,” Smuts said. “We went to school together. We always called him Little Jerry. I can’t remember how long he (Snider Jr.) went to school here. He was actually a very funny kid, just a crackup. But he always had a bad temper. He kept getting in trouble.
“The divorce was hard on him,” Smuts said of Snider Sr. “That was probably around ’92 or ’93. I would have been in middle school. I remember in sixth or seventh grade and Little Jerry was here, but (at some point) he went back to Paonia to live with his mom.”
After high school, Smuts worked at the Deserado Mine for about a year and half or two years, which is how he became friends with the elder Snider.
“We rode together to work,” Smuts said. “‘Whip’ drove most of the time, because I always had a broke-down vehicle. That was probably a downfall for him. He was always giving. He’d give the shirt off his back, he really would, for anybody.
“He was a lot older than me, but we just hung out quite a bit. He was just easy going,” Smuts added. “That was his social life, the guys at work. People didn’t really know ‘Whip.’ He just kind of did his own thing. He didn’t drink or nothing. He was a pretty quiet guy. He really loved woodworking, and he was really good at it.”
Smuts said he was aware Snider Jr. was back in Rangely and he had heard he was doing better.
“I knew he had come back,” Smuts said. “He was supposed to have gotten clean. I knew Little Jerry had a temper, but I didn’t think he would do that (allegedly kill his father). He’ll have plenty of time to think about it, which he should. A guy tries to help you, your dad, and that’s what you do.”
Larry Ungaro of Rangely also worked at the mine with Snider Sr.
“He was kind of a quiet guy, but he would laugh and joke with people,” Ungaro said. “At the coal mine, he never had no trouble that I know about. He just did his work and got along with everybody.
“I was really surprised when I heard what happened,” said Ungaro, who retired from the mine in 2008 after 22 years. “It was just tragic. I know he had trouble with his boy. I heard him say something one time at the mine that he was getting tired of bailing him out of jail. That was several years ago.”
Ungaro said he knew of Snider Sr.’s family from Paonia.
“He was from Paonia, which is where we’re from,” Ungaro said. “He had a brother who just died about a month ago. His mother still lives there. He had three brothers and two sisters, I think. They lived just up from my dad. It’s a sad deal.”
Jerry LeBleu of Rangely, owner of Professional Touch Auto Repair and Towing, said Snider Sr. had been a customer.
“He has been a longtime customer,” LeBleu said. “I never knew the boy. I didn’t know, truthfully, he had a boy. ”