Bess Cary Snyder, 80, passed away on Sunday, July 3, 2022 in Bowling Green, from complications related to advanced dementia—no small irony for a woman possessing a ferocious mind, a lifelong love of learning, and an appetite for the written word. She was an Owensboro native , the firstborn of four daughters, and the Valentine's Day child of the late Oswald Harold and Helen Cary Snyder.
Bess was a 1960 graduate of Owensboro High School. A former Red Devils cheerleader and Rose Curtain Player, she masked her shyness by force of will, and was a woman most at ease in the art studio. Though a wife and mother, she would come to define herself as an artist and social worker, and her degrees (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Southern Methodist University, 1991; Master of Science in Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, 1999) were later life accomplishments of which she was tremendously proud.
For ten years, Bess served at the Veterans Administration, five of them focused on spinal cord injury patients at the North Texas Health Care System in Dallas. That her own cervical spine issues forced retirement was a bitter twist, one she struggled to accept as she left behind the work that fulfilled her—work where she knew she made a difference. (She had, after all, coaxed the first smile from a clinically depressed quadriplegic through a collage project they created together).
The power of art was something Bess understood, whether in collecting or creating it. Her appreciation of art (and her aesthetic) was richly informed by moves to ten countries across six continents, and she shoehorned her creativity in where she could: Ikebana classes in Japan, painting in Suriname, stained glass in Australia, and pastels in Egypt. Art nourished and healed, and it allowed her to traverse the dark precipices of her own life's experience: the loss of her thirteen-year old son, Charles Vernon Greif, Jr. foremost among them.
Bess had a keen sense of humor, irrepressible laugh, fierce independence, and, at times, a single-minded determination. They were qualities that served her well in meeting life's vicissitudes.
Bess is survived by her daughter, Cary Ann Greif; a sister, Edith Tyler; and her former husband, Charles Vernon Greif. Her sisters Helen "Cissy" Lawrence and Martha Winkler preceded her in death.
Services will be Noon Saturday, July 9, at Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory. Entombment will be private at Owensboro Memorial Gardens Mausoleum. Visitation will be from 10 AM until Noon Saturday at the funeral home.
The family asks that donations be made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, an organization she was deeply committed to in her working life. Their mailing address for donations is P. O. Box 758589, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8589. Memories and condolences to the family can be shared at www.glenncares.com.