A community says goodbye: Rucker Snead honored by residents

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, May 14, 2023

Earlier this month, Hampden-Sydney College, along with the entire Prince Edward County community, lost a leader, co-worker and friend. Lt. Col. L. Rucker Snead passed away on Wednesday, May 3, surrounded by his family after a brief battle with cancer.

Snead was known for the many ways he was involved with the community. One big way was his involvement with his alma mater Hampden-Sydney College as he worked there for nearly 20 years.

“When you think of the H-SC community, Rucker is one of the first people that comes to mind,” said Caleb Kimbrough, the head basketball coach. “He was a friend, a mentor and somebody you knew you could count on. When we saw him in the dining hall for lunch each day, he would always tell us … ‘it’s a simple game … you just put the ball in the hole!’ Rucker’s impact on H-SC will live on forever.”

Returning to Hampden-Sydney

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Snead returned to Hampden-Sydney in 2004 after serving 23 years in the U.S. Army. At the college, he led the career center for many years before becoming director of the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest. Most recently, Rucker served as associate dean for the College’s ROTC program and as a lecturer in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, where his teaching focused on national security studies.

He also helped with various sports teams on campus. He was known to show up to practices with his dog, Tiger, to give support to the students. He would be in the stands cheering the teams on and letting them know that he cared. Snead and his wife, Karen, also opened their home for social events for faculty and staff members

“Col. Snead was truly a tremendous leader and a friend to everyone at Hampden-Sydney,” said Betsy Leonard, the head swim coach and director of TigeRec. “He cared so much for the students he worked with and had an invested interest in everything that they did in and out of the classroom. My swimmers knew him as someone who would keep them accountable, but also someone they could rely on to help them out with anything… We will miss him stopping by during practice and, at times, not even saying a word, just his way of silently reminding the team that he cared. It will be so strange not seeing him in the fitness center each morning, making sure to pause his workout in an effort to speak to every person who walked by.”

Rucker Snead helps community

Despite being busy at Hampden-Sydney, he spent his time serving in the community in other leadership roles as well. He served in organizations, including United Way of Prince Edward County, the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts and College Presbyterian Church.

“Col. Snead has been an integral part of our soccer program for years now,” said Tommy DiNuzzo, the head soccer coach. “From the first day I met him, and we sat and discussed various leadership topics in his office for over an hour, he was the quintessential role model for every Hampden-Sydney man and he was constantly thinking of how he could impact the lives of others. We will miss having him at all of our games behind our coaching staff, and at our practices with Tiger but we will be sure to make him and his family proud and honor him on a daily basis.”

At this time, funeral arrangements are still pending for Rucker Snead, but a service of hope and remembrance is planned to take place in the early fall. That’s to allow campus students and staff to attend and pay their respects. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to H-SC in memory of Col. Snead for the Alexander Hamilton Society, the College Presbyterian Church, or a charity of the person’s choice.