Bertram L. Snyder, M.D. '33

Dr. Bertram L. SnyderBert Snyder, Significant Sig, distinguished physician, philanthropist, husband, father, and grandfather entered the Chapter Eternal at his long-time residence in north Phoenix July 31, 2002,  at the age of 91.

Dr. Snyder arrived in Arizona in 1942. His subsequent contributions to the improvement of health care in the valley are legendary. Bert's dedication and vision were instrumental to the conception and realization of John C. Lincoln hospital in northwest Phoenix where he served as a lifetime board member. Dr. Snyder donated time working with indigenous peoples in clinic situations around the state of Arizona for many years. He served as a charitable humanitarian to the elderly, making home visits, arranging for home care; compassionate to their needs he became a friend to many.

Bert was born April 5, 1911 in the town of Norwood, Ohio, to Edgar and Ethyl Snyder (nee Pape). He attended elementary school in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio and graduated from Withrow High School, also in Pleasant Ridge, in 1929. Bert was unable to serve his country during WWII due to tuberculosis. At Denison, he managed the Glee Club and was active in Mu Chapter. He obtained his medical training at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, externing at Bethesda Hospital. It was in his senior year at the University of Cincinnati that Bert contracted tuberculosis, which was self-diagnosed. He left school to recuperate and then returned to graduate in 1940, interning at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. From there, he went into residency at the Dunham Tri-County Tuberculosis Sanatorium.

In 1942, Bert arrived in Gila Bend, Arizona. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Phoenix and secured lodging at the Westward Ho Hotel and later the Hotel Adams. He eventually ended up in a garage apartment on Willetta St. for $10/month. Dr. Snyder's first professional job was as personnel physician at Air Research Manufacturing Company on Henshaw Rd. (now known as Buckeye Rd.). During his time at Air Research, Bertram attempted to enter the Army and Navy but was turned down due to the residual effects of his tuberculosis treatments. After gradually easing out of his position at Air Research, Bert began private practice, specializing in internal medicine.

One of his first contributions to the community was in his work with TB victims living in the Sunnyslope area. Many were living in tents and hastily erected shanties. The only health oriented facility there was the Desert Mission Clinic founded in 1927, a charity organized by the local Presbyterian Church with the help of Mr. And Mrs. John C. Lincoln. In 1943 Dr. Snyder became the Director of the Mission's free clinic and assisted in the actual construction of the Desert Mission Convalescent Hospital. The Desert Mission was the forerunner of the present John C. Lincoln Hospital. Dr. Snyder was one of the incorporators of John C. Lincoln Hospital in 1954 and served as vice president of the hospital's board of directors for many years. In addition, Dr. Snyder was a life-long member of the J.C. Lincoln Hospital Board. He headed the medical staff of the Desert Mission Convalescent Hospital and served several terms as chief of staff at J.C. Lincoln Hospital. In 1945 Dr. Snyder conducted a chest clinic at First and Washington Street for the Maricopa County Health Department. His affiliation with the county hospital at that time compelled him and his father, Dr. Edgar Bertram Snyder of Cincinnati, Ohio to undertake the humanitarian task of hanging curtains around the beds of critical TB patients. He also wired the cottages so patients could hear programs through earphones. Bert worked for years to secure funding to build the new Tuberculosis Building at the County Hospital. Senator Carl Hayden added his tremendous prestige to the project, and in 1955 the building was completed.

In the 1950's and 1960's Bert and his colleagues were instrumental in organizing the Heart/Lung Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center. The first open heart surgery performed at St. Luke’s was performed in approximately 1960. In addition to the above contributions, Dr. Snyder was active in the Desert Mission Food Bank in Sunnyslope, the Arizona Historical Society, Sunnyslope Historical Society, served on the boards of Blue Cross and the Phoenix Historical Society, and member of the Westerners Club.

One of the highlights of his distinguished life was becoming a Significant Sig, one of the highest honors bestowed by Sigma Chi Fraternity. In addition, Dr. Snyder was a Life Loyal Sig and an active member of the Phoenix Chapter of the Sigma Chi Alumni since the 1940s.

Dr. Snyder continued private practice until the early 1980's specializing in internal medicine. Since that time Dr. Snyder had worked at the Department of Economic Security reviewing the medical records of the disabled, a position he thoroughly enjoyed.

A memorial fund celebrating the life of Dr. Snyder is established at the Sunnyslope Historical Society, P.O. Box 26299, Phoenix, AZ 85068. Contributions in his name may also be made to the American Lung Association.

All honor to his name.

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