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Glenn Snyder, who covered the supermarket industry for decades as senior editor of Progressive Grocer, died on Sunday, Sept. 7 in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He was 89.
Widely known in the business for his "Inside Non-Foods" column, Snyder was awarded the General Merchandise Distributors Council's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 for his groundbreaking research into the nonfoods category, which in the '60s and '70s received less attention from the trade press than other supermarket departments, and for his pioneering coverage of supermarket operations. Over the course of 35 years at the magazine, he wrote countless articles for PG about the benefits to sales, profits and customer satisfaction that robust promotion of nonfoods merchandise such as health and beauty products could create.
Among his friends and colleagues, Snyder was known for his almost obsessively tireless work ethic (doing two dozen interviews for a half-page story wasn't uncommon), for his sarcastic and hilarious witticisms, for his mentoring of younger journalists, and for the wise advice he freely doled out to supermarket owners and managers across the country (whether they wanted it or not).
Glenn Snyder was born in Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 23, 1924, the only son of Lillian and Philip Snyder. He joined the army in 1943 and fought in the 100th Infantry Division during World War II. While he was an able marksman, Snyder spent much of the war out of harm's way: As a skilled flute player, he played in the army band, entertaining troops in France and Germany, and even marching down New York's 5th Avenue in a victory parade when the war was won.
In 1946, he enrolled in George Washington University, and graduated four years later with a major in economics. Along the way, the G.I. Bill enabled him to study for a semester at the Sorbonne in Paris. During that time, he met Monique Botcharoff, who in 1956 moved to the United States to marry Snyder and later work as a translator for the United Nations and ITT. Their son, David, was born in 1968.
After a stint as a reporter for the Washington Star, Snyder joined PG in 1957 and for the next four decades he would contribute to every issue. He began specializing in nonfoods in 1967, and his coverage of product categories, profit panels and category management became must-read material for many in the industry. Along the way, he was a frequent speaker at trade gatherings hosted by such prominent organizations as the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
In 1995, four years after his first wife's death, Snyder married Mary Ann Linsen, herself a PG editor. Snyder retired from the magazine in 1997 and formed his own company, Snyder Consulting, continuing to write for various trade publications, including PG, until well into his 80s and, in partnership with Linsen, hosting panels and moderating workshops with executives from leading companies such as Duracell, Gillette, Hartz Mountain, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2004, Snyder remained indomitable, with his insatiable curiosity about business, people, politics undiminished by illness.
He's survived by his wife and son; his sister, Esther Brudo; his nephew, Paul Blustein; and his nieces Janice and Laura Blustein. A memorial service in his honor is planned to take place soon. Memorial contributions may be made to the Parkinson's Foundation or the American Civil Liberties Union.