PALM HARBOR — Clayton Snare lived many lives over 95 years.
A meteorologist in the Navy during World War II. The president of two banks. An avid golfer and churchgoer. A family man who once held his great-granddaughter with a smile so bright it was as if he’d won the lottery.
That’s why it hurt extra that Snare fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, said one of his sons, Clayton Snare II.
“He led a very good life, very successful life," the son said. “For him to go not of natural causes but because of what’s going on — it just doesn’t seem fair. It really doesn’t.”
The elder Snare was a resident of St. Mark Village, a Palm Harbor retirement community that last week reported a flare-up of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. On Thursday, Snare became the first St. Mark resident to die since the outbreak was discovered.
Another senior community, Freedom Square of Seminole, has also become a COVID-19 hotspot, with dozens of cases and eight deaths so far.
Unlike the accusations of disjointed communication and misinformation that have plagued Freedom Square’s management, the younger Snare said he was grateful for St. Mark’s transparency through the ordeal. The elder Snare had lived at the facility for about eight years, first in independent living, then in assisted living then, about a week before he got sick, in the skilled nursing unit.
His wife of 67 years, Barbara, also lives at St. Mark, in the independent living section.
The facility’s CEO “was very transparent, very proactive as far as dealing with the challenges of this coronavirus,” the son said.
His father was born and raised in Altoona, Penn. After high school, he joined the Navy and worked as a meteorologist during the second World War. After he left the service, the elder Snare went back to school and got his accounting license.
He became a banker, a line of work that eventually took him to Florida, where he opened a bank in Naples. He retired there, then moved to the Tampa Bay area to be closer to his children.
The elder Snare was personable and liked to joke around, his son said. At St. Mark, he made it a point to get to know everyone. The family would visit, and his father would introduce them to his wide pool of friends.
“Sometimes that was embarrassing because he would introduce you to 20 people," the younger Snare said, "and next time we’d visit he’d expect you to remember their names.”
By the time he moved into the skilled nursing unit, coronavirus was well underway, and visitors were heavily restricted. He was tested twice for the virus at St. Mark, but the results came back negative, the younger Snare said. Still, his health took a turn for the worse, and he was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital. There, he was tested again, and the result came back positive.
The family didn’t get to see him before he died, the younger Snare said.
“It’s devastating,” the son said. “I can only say that I hope and pray that we find a cure for this as quickly as possible, or a vaccine ... so nobody else has to go through this.”
Born: Sept. 9, 1924
Died: April 23, 2020
Survivors: wife, Barbara Snare; sons Clayton Snare II, Carl Snare, Kurt Snare; daughter Linda Matheson; 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren.
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