Monday, May 07, 2012

Billy Snead, RIP

  Billy Snead at the Biograph Theatre's 20th anniversary party in 1992.

My friend, Billy Snead, 76, died on Sunday, May 6. His family was at his side when he drew his last breath.

If you were lucky enough to have known Billy, who grew up in the Fan District, you may have a sense of how universally well liked he was. I’ve never known anyone who balanced his life better than did William R. "Billy" Snead Jr. He was careful, loyal, generous and spontaneous. He was a devoted family man; his wife and three daughters are delightful company. Yet he still had plenty of time for his friends of all ages. He quietly did nice things for people that most of us never knew about. Although he was rather successful, I can’t remember Billy ever seeming to look down on anyone.

When others couldn’t see through fogs of confusion and self-interest, Billy remained a man who knew by pure instinct what was right, what was wrong.

A long time ago, we spent many an hour playing sports together; Billy was a teammate and a coach. We spent even more time around tables with semi-rowdy groups of friends, swapping salty stories over beers, after the games were over. For a legion of his friends, Wednesdays at Chiocca’s will never be the same without him. When it came to Happy Hour comedians, with his impeccable timing Billy usually said less and got more laughs.

A Yiddish term comes to mind, when I think of the Billy I knew for nearly four decades: Billy was a mensch.

Click here to read a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article, penned by Bill Lohmann, about an unusual friendship Billy nurtured for over 50 years. 

Billy wrote down a few of his more colorful stories about his formative years. He loaned me a stack of them to read a few years ago. He seemed genuinely pleased that I liked them, as if my opinion mattered. Some of them have been collected and posted by his daughter, Sande.

Click here to read and smile … perhaps with a tear in the corner of your eye.

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