Snowden Provided Comfort and Comic Relief to Generations
Funeral services to be held today for George R. Snowden Jr., owner of Snowden Funeral Home.
George R. Snowden Sr., the patriarch of Snowden Funeral Home in Rockville, a family business where he became known as a comforting presence to generations of families from around the region, will be laid to rest today.
Snowden died Sept. 17 after suffering a massive heart attack at his home on Van Buren Street, his sister, Irene S. Curry said. He was 78.
A viewing was held Monday. A second viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. today, followed by funeral services, at Inter-Denominational Church of God, 19201 Woodfield Road, in Gaithersburg. Interment will be at Gate of Heaven Cemetery at 13801 Georgia Ave. in Aspen Hill.
Last week, Curry remembered her brother for the thoughtfulness, generosity and warmth that he extended to families who came to Snowden Funeral Home in times of mourning.
“Everybody that has called me has said ‘I’ll never forget your brother because he could always make you laugh,’” Curry said.
George Snowden inherited that ability—along with the family business—from his father, Curry said. Snowden’s mother and father were both funeral directors.
“He adored my father and my father adored him,” Curry said. “And my mother spoiled him. But he was a great guy.”
A Rockville institution, Snowden Funeral Home has been in business on North Washington Street since 1926. George and Irene Snowden’s grandfather moved the business from Howard County, where he founded it in 1909. Their father, Robert L. Snowden, took over the business in 1936.
“In our business, he knew you were going to be upset and sad,” Curry said of her father. “But before you left that office, he had told you something that would make you smile, would make you laugh. And my brother had that same knack.”
It was a trait that endeared George Snowden to families from Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard counties and Washington, D.C. that are served by the home.
“He was concerned about the people that we serve because we serve generations,” Curry said. “My father did one generation, we did another generation and now [Snowden’s son George R. Snowden Jr.] is doing another generation.”
Snowden is the only African-American-owned funeral home in the county and one of the oldest black-owned businesses in the county, Curry said.
George R. Snowden Sr. was a member of the last class to graduate from Lincoln High School in Rockville, in 1951. He graduated from Eckels College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia in 1952.
Snowden served in the United States Air Force from 1952 to 1956. After an honorable discharge, time away forced Snowden to return to school to study embalming again, Curry said.
He received his Maryland funeral director’s license in 1961. He also was a licensed funeral director in Washington, D.C.
Snowden was a member of the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association and a member of Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church for 50 years.
Curry remembered her brother as “genuine.”
“If he told you something, you could believe it,” she said. “If you needed something, he’d get it for you.”
He did favors for people, Curry recalled.
“We could never throw anything away because he’d say ‘Irene, I know somebody who could use that,’” she said.
“My brother was that type that if you didn’t have money, you still got buried,” said Curry, who worked at the home for 45 years before retiring a year-and-a-half ago.
While family and friends urged him to slow down in recent years, Snowden enjoyed interacting with people so much that he never completely retired.
“He said ‘Irene I’m going to be here until my last day,'” Curry said. “And he was, because he had just attended a funeral that morning [that he died], at the funeral home.
“So, he was doing what he loved. He loved his work. And I can see from the response I’ve gotten in these last four days, people loved him.”
Family and friends knew him as “Junior,” even though he wasn’t a junior, said Curry, who said she and her younger brother grew very close as they grew older.
They either saw each other or talked every day.
“And I’m going to miss that,” she said. “Sunday when I was sitting here, and the phone would ring, it would come to my mind: ‘What in the world does Junior want now?’ But he was gone.”
Last week, families who turned to the funeral home through the generations mourned the loss of Snowden.
“People were saying ‘Junior Snowden wasn’t supposed to die because he was supposed to bury me,’” Curry said.
George R. Snowden Sr. will be buried next to his first wife, Shirley, who died in 1998.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce Marbley Snowden; two sons, George R. Snowden Jr. and Bryan E. Snowden; three grandchildren, Taylor B. Snowden, Karras M. Snowden and George R. Snowden III; a great-grandson, Jaylen Snowden-Moreira; and his sister, Irene S. Curry.
Memorial contributions can be made in memory of George R. Snowden Sr. to Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, 21 Wood Lane, Rockville, MD 20850.
A page on Tributes.com had 136 entries as of Monday night, with visitors offering prayers and memories.
A guest book attached to an obituary in on Washingtonpost.com had 52 entries as of Monday night.