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Snyder era ends at age 92

  • Photo appeared in Sonoma Business magazine, June of 1988.

  • A tribute to Judson Snyder seen at the Art Show held at the Rohnert Park branch of the Sonoma County Library. Robert Grant

  • The Community Voice file photo,"Jud's Round Barn drawing."

March 9, 2018

On Saturday March 3, 2018, 4:56 p.m., Judson F. Snyder, former editor of the Community Voice and current columnist (Coffee Grounds), has died at the age of 92 with caregiver Barbara Johnson by his side according to Tim McGuire, his nephew and legal representative, who lives in Liverpool near Syracuse, in upstate New York.


What can I say about Jud? Back in January 1993 I was grasping at straws trying to fill a void in Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove by bringing a local newspaper to the area after the Clarion closed. Bill Lynch and I had the opportunity to meet Jud when we offered him the Editorial position of a newspaper with no name. With Jud’s help we came up with “The Community Voice.”

He was one of the grumpiest men I knew, but who isn’t in the newspaper business? Somehow, we managed to get along, even though we fought at times for God knows what reasons. I was blessed to not only have gained an amazing colleague but also a wonderful friend. With his help, we rolled into our 26th year of publication on February 2, 2018. This would have been an uphill battle without him, and I thank him for making life much easier.

I know my family and I will miss him very much. My wife always says as I am preparing to leave Elk Grove on Mondays, “Please say hi to Jud and let me know how he is doing.”

Thank you, Jud for helping me come this far and giving me insight into the newspaper business and all of your input that made us successful.

Lastly, when you start a newspaper in heaven, remember “The Community Voice” is taken.

- Yatin Shah, Publisher/CEO


While I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Jud as long as my fellow colleagues at The Voice, I always got the sense that this was a man that held incredible dedication to The Voice, the community of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove and to finding out the truth to a story. I think Jud also exemplified what it meant to work in the golden age of journalism, where famous journalists such as Bob Woodward of The Washington Post had to get information for their stories the good old-fashioned way, not through Google searches and phone calls, but through a dogged determination to build rapport with people to get what they needed for their story. Jud made lifelong connections with everyone in the community and wrote his columns with wit and skill. He was the Bob Woodward of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove and he will be missed.

-Katherine Minkiewicz, NewsteamLeader/Editor


You are a skilled wordsmith, a prolific artist and pleasure to just sit and talk with. While visiting you in RP, I remember the area history lessons on the drives to Bodega Bay, the breakfasts at the Black Bear, wondering “does everyone know Jud?,” and your easy smile that includes your eyes. You will be missed by so many including your literary friend, the Hinebaugh Creek Philosopher.  


Tim McGuire - Nephew


My years at the Clarion and then The Community Voice gave me a great appreciation for what a local newspaper could be. Jud Snyder showed me that the connection with people in all aspects of a town is at the core of good community journalism. Historical and cultural knowledge of a town is just as important as a sense for quality news. If nothing else in the newspaper connected with people in Rohnert Park and Cotati, it was clear that Coffee Grounds would still be the go-to column for people who wanted insights on what was happening locally.

I always liked Jud’s approach to his job. It’s the journalist’s job to be somewhat cynical, but I always found enough of the idealist in Jud to see that community journalists will also look for and highlight the many silver linings in the things they cover. It’s that genuine caring for the community that has made Jud a fixture in Rohnert Park and Cotati.

Of course, there is also Jud’s sense of humor. It’s what has always made Coffee Grounds a great read, and that’s also what made Jud fun to work with.

- Bob Browne 


He was an institution in our community and very well respected. I had good relations with him for many years and we would go to get burgers at Marvin’s in Cotati. He was a good reporter and had a way with words… He always had good insight on the community and I think he will be missed more than anything. He will be missed.”

- Pete Callinan


I’d never gotten into a shouting match with an octogenarian before, but Jud Snyder gave a new definition to the word “stubborn.” My first few years at The Community Voice involved several disagreements with the columnist and reporter who’d seen four of my lifetime’s worth of news. Though I often expected to hear about it the next day, he never held a grudge. After all, there was still a paper to put out the following week. As much as I enjoyed his columns and conversation, I will remember Jud largely for the things he didn’t talk about: his love of jazz music and shelter pets; his willingness to learn computer technology that must have been as foreign to him as clouds to a fish; and his mastery of the art of listening and finding the real heart of the story.

- Nicolas Grizzle


Judson Snyder, what can I say? 

Jud and I worked at the now defunct Clarion newspaper. Since I didn’t want to work in an office again, I did circulation.

The Clarion office located on Southwest Boulevard was very small and cramped and didn’t allow a doorway into the newsroom and business office, so therefore, I had to walk out to the outside of the building until you found a door leading to the office where Jud sat.

Jud at that time was known as a news hound but I found he was a semi-curmudgeon fellow who would say, “What do you want?” 

It took us a few years but when the Clarion moved to the 100 block of Professional Center Drive, Jud and myself had to work in closer quarters and became friends. He dug for news almost excessively, but he was a great fellow, stubborn but intelligent. And knowing and having him as a friend was another page in my book. Everywhere you look you may see the pencil and ink drawings and calendars that Jud drew, and one will always hang in my home.

Well, my dear friend you have covered your beat for the last time, but you earned your stripes. 

God speed!

Irene Hilsendager 


Jud has been such an integral part of our city. People looked forward to reading his columns for many years. Not to be able to read his columns and his humorous way of thinking- he will be greatly missed.

Pam Stafford, Mayor 

“I’ve known him for a long time. He will be missed. And I remember as a kid seeing him at the old city hall having a donut and coffee and that is how he’d get information, by staying close. He had a keen sense of humor and was a great guy. He was an icon in the community and a rock. You know that he cared about the community no matter what.”

Joe Callinan


“Jud was a wise, kind and funny writer who made so many people smile and reflect in deeper ways. I will think of him every day as I prepare my Coffeegrounds.”

-Tim Nonn


“Since the early 1970s when Jud Snyder came to town to write for Paul Golis’ second Rohnert Park newspaper, Rohnert Park News, Jud has been the one constant local journalist. His career spanned several decades and several weekly newspapers.

Written in his own distinct style, his weekly column, “Coffeegrounds,” has been a must-read for locals, who will miss his often unpredictable slant on the news and seeing his familiar face. RIP.”

Maurice and Bettey Fredericks


This is obviously a very sad time for the people who have lived and grown up in RP. He was a fixture when I came to town 30 years ago and I learned to know him with his Hinebaugh Creek philosopher. He didn’t have many kind words to say about me but that is want you want from a columnist. We were both Jazz fans and that we had in common. We did not see eye to eye as far as politics goes in Rohnert Park, but we learned to agree and disagree. He was a very big part of Rohnert Park and especially now that the city is growing.

Hail and farewell, Jud Snyder 

Jake Mackenzie


In all these years do you think I could have gotten Jud interested in attending a church service? No way!   Earlier he told me he had gone to church as a kid (that was in Upper State New York) 

but stopped going when he was twelve which is when he discovered girls. 

 Jud had a stack of his pen and ink drawings of old barns and was always proud to show them off.  The last one I saw and liked was one of the Round Barn in Santa Rosa. He kept it for several years in the big folder with his other work. He never chose to have it framed, and for some reason back in the days he worked on it, he had added colorful flames under and around the piece. He liked that I liked it, but there it sits being kept safe with his other outstanding work in the really big, stiff cardboard folder.

Thoughts from the heart

 Ann Rasmussen


“Jud will be sorely be missed, and political discussion will not be the same in Rohnert Park.”

 Amy Ahanotu


Judson Snyder interviewed me in the 90s after coming back from a consulting job in Russia, I found him to be such a sweet, warm and witty person. The questions he asked just made me open up. He is so much Rohnert Park.

Gina Belforte


Everyone’s life is like a patchwork of art with many squares sewn together to complete a unique and wonderful quilt. Each square represents different moments that define their life’s journey.

Fifty years of Jud Snyder’s life journey happened as a newspaper reporter, photographer, columnist and a newspaper editor in Rohnert Park and Cotati. He was also an accomplished artist with his passion being old broken down barns in the country. Jud’s family was his wife Pauline, his cats, the people he worked with and the community people he met along the way.

Jud reported the news for Rohnert Park and Cotati while working for the Rohnert Park News, the Clarion and the Community Voice. The news reports eventually became part of each town’s history. In his column he faithfully held city members accountable for their actions or their inactions on all city problems. His column “Coffee Grounds” was many times the first thing people read even before the headlines on the front page of the newspaper.

His “Hinebaugh philosopher” saga created characterizations of local politicians and city leaders and the decisions they made in city government. It was a fascinating soap opera that everyone followed every week and tried to figure out who was who.

Jud’s dedication and love for the cities of Rohnert Park and Cotati show in his careful reporting throughout his 50-year career. As Rohnert Park and Cotati grew and matured, Jud became a historical “Treasure” to each city. His gift of words and colorful commentary helped shape both cities into the great places they are to live, work, raise a family and to retire.

Jud’s lifework has made a lasting impact on everyone who calls Rohnert Park and Cotati home. He truly made a difference in all our lives. Now, his beautiful quilt is completed. I am grateful that I had the privilege of knowing him. Jud will be missed.

Rest in peace, my friend

Joyce Roger