More than 100 years ago, Ora O. Snyder worked as a horse keeper for undertaking establishments. Known as Orrie to friends and colleagues, his early exposure to funeral service consisted of accompanying the local undertaker into the family home instead of waiting outside with the horses during the notoriously cold Ohio winters. Eventually, he attended the Columbus Embalming School to pursue his new career.
In 1922, Snyder had an opportunity to purchase his first funeral home in Johnsville, which he managed with his wife, the former Marion Lucas.
The Snyders had 13 children, and, in keeping with traditions of the day, the funeral home also served as their residence. Indisputably a family firm, 10 boys and three girls were responsible for household chores and assisting with the business when needed. Four Snyder sons would later become funeral directors.
“The building is still in Johnsville, where my father started. It’s quite in disrepair now,” said J. Paul Snyder, the tenth child and de facto Snyder family patriarch who began his career as an accountant before becoming a funeral director and owner.
“One night at the Masonic Lodge in Bellville, Ralph Lutz, a prominent Lexington businessman, said ‘Ora you need to come to Lexington and open up a funeral home.’ They didn’t have one in Lexington at that time. There was a little building on Frederick Street where Dad opened up an embalming room. I was 7 years old when we moved from Johnsville to Bellville,” he remembered.
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