Matthew David Snyder, a diehard sports fan who played about 12 years of softball in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) and had a passion for Creighton University athletics and the Houston Astros, died suddenly after a brain aneurysm on Dec. 1. He was 46.
Known as Matt, he was married in 2014 to Patrick White; the two were together for 11 years and lived in Lake View.
He was the director of strategy at New Control and had lived in Chicago since the mid-1990s. Snyder is originally from Nebraska and graduated from Creighton. He was on the cross-country and track & field teams in high school, and also briefly played CMSA flag football.
"The sudden passing of Matt is truly a shock to the system," said Jack Neilsen, who for the past eight seasons has been the commissioner of the CMSA open Sunday softball league, which Snyder played in. "He was such a kind, great spirited and loved individual. Matt was one of those individuals you could hear across the softball field cheering on his teammates and would always have a sassy quick comment when he saw you.
"This is such a huge loss to not only our sporting community, but our community in general."
Michael O. Rice, the new CMSA open Sunday softball commissioner, starting in 2016, added: "I am sad to hear of the passing of Matt, [who] was a great player … he was a kind, generous and loving person."
Snyder and White met at Sidetrack. "He walked by me and caught my eye," White said. Eventually he came back to White and the two talked for hours, mostly about marketing and direct-mail.
Snyder proposed to White during one of their many trips to Hawaii, doing so after a long hike on the island of Kauai.
"He's the best person I've ever known in my life, the only friend I needed," White said. "He was extremely generous with his time, very caring. He changed my life, made it so much better. He's the reason I am who I am today.
"He was just an amazing person."
Ryan Coon, who had been friends with Snyder since 2001 when they were teammates on a flag football team, recalled the time the two were together at a bar and Coon met his then-future husband. Coon and Snyder also were together at Sidetrack when Snyder met White. "It always seemed a little unique that we were standing next to each other when we walked up and introduced ourselves, on different occasions, to our future spouses ... a wing man and best friend until the end," Coon said.
Snyder had a "love of collective nouns," Coon said. Plus, Snyder loved kittens, obscure facts, haikus and Nebraska football statistics. "He was unmatched in any of those areas," Coon added.
Snyder had three sisters and one brother. He was the second of five children.
"I truly thought of him as my real brother," not just a brother-in-law, said Casey Beck.
Snyder and White had three cats. "His favorite thing to do was lay on the couch on Saturday and Sunday, watch college football and basketball [games on TV] and snuggle with his cats," White said.
Snyder and White often traveled to watch Creighton basketball games, most recently to Las Vegas. They once went to Creighton road games in New York City and ate at Hooter's, one of his favorite restaurants, along with Red Lobster, Chili's and Pizza Hut.
Snyder had a passion for music, "and he always introduced us to new songs [during vacations], often songs that no one had heard of," said Libby Beck, one of Matt's younger sisters. "Then, whenever you heard that song [in the future], it would remind you of the trip [when Matt introduced that song]."
Snyder enjoyed spending time on the beach, listening to the waves.
"I will always remember him as a strong light that you could see in many different forms; whether that was someone to talk to and seek advice from, someone to cheer you up, give a pep talk to rally the team, softball pointers and of course through his love of kitty cats," said Brett Locascio, who first met Snyder in the early 2000s. "He had a great sense of humor and laugh, and always carried himself with a positive attitude and never [was] judgmental. He will always be someone who brightened this world and now the next."
Erika Inlow, of Chicago, had known Snyder since 2003, added: "It was amazing to see his loyalty and deep friendship he had with his tight knit group of friends to give up his every Sunday to spend [time] continuing to support his friends and teammates," as a softball coach or scorekeeper after being forced to retire from the game in 2013 due to injuries, Inlow said. "That's just the type of guy he was."
Snyder called his sister Libby every day on his way home from work, she said. He was a regular working out at the gym. "He was very regimented," White said.
"He kept me young, even though I was younger [sibling]," Beck said
White said Snyder "always was the life of the party." At the annual Pride Parade, for instance, Snyder routinely brought an abundance Hello Kitty stickers to give out, and glitter too. "His group of friends was enormous," White said.
Rich Saucedo of Chicago said Snyder annually took Chicago's Pride Parade "to a whole new level."
Saucedo hosted several Pride parties over the years, and he admitted that, "I would find glitter everywhere, [even on my] work clothes. [Plus,] I would find stickers months later stuck to [the] floor or appliances. Rumor has it that one friend had a Hello Kitty sticker glued to his clothes dryer for years."
Todd Jacobson, who recalled road trips with Snyder from Chicago to University of Nebraska football games, added, "Every experience with Matt was complete with laughter."
Snyder's passion for Creighton basketball was only equaled by his love for the Houston Astros baseball teamand he regularly could be spotted wearing an Astros hat, jersey or t-shirt. His parents once purchased a young Snyder an Astros bobbleheadand he kept that relic as an adult. "He cherished that," Libby Beck said.
Snyder even painted the basement in the family's home the colors of the Astrosthat wall is still painted for the team's look.
Snyder also enjoyed playing fantasy football.
Snyder's passion for sports was only bested by his love for family, especially White. In fact, in Snyder's day-planner, he still carried with him a print out of the first email that White ever wrote to Snyder.
"He was able to create connections with people on any level, about anything. He truly was amazing with people," White said.
Austin Baidas of Chicago said Snyder was "the center of an amazing group of friends."
"Even though we were all in our 20s or 30s at the time, we grew up together," Baidas said. "We helped each other come of age in the big city. Most of us had moved here from across the Midwest, from towns like Matt's [native] Broken Bow, Nebraska. We looked out for each other, learned from each other, and called each other out when we did something stupid. Everyone who shared that time, those CMSA softball and flag football teams, will be friends forever and deeply miss Matt."
Saucedo, of Chicago, admitted that when he first met Snyder, he didn't like himparticularly because they were softball foes.
"When I actually got to talk with him [off the field], I was immediately in awe of this amazing guy," Saucedo said. "His humor was sharp; his presence was grand; his laughter was intoxicating; and his heart was genuine, gentle and gigantic. He made everyone feel welcomed, special and happy. His personality beamed with originality and bright colors. When I was with him, I found myself smiling without reason and laughing with pure joy."
Snyder was a brilliant storyteller, said Dave Salem, of Chicago. And super funny, too. "His wit and his intelligence provided for 10 lifetimes of laughter," Salem said.
"Matt was also the most loved person I've ever known. To date, I've never met a person who didn't fall instantly in love with his personality. He could make anyone smile, and he did all the time."
Salem, who was roommates with Snyder for years, said Snyder was "the epitome of authenticity, goodness, caring, loving, nurturing, acceptance … he was everything."
Every time Snyder saw Salem, he would say, "I love you, Sally," in reference to Salem's nickname.
Brian Redar added, "He lived his life to the fullest and with as much passion as possible. He knew that all the great things he had in life were precious and fleeting, [so] he appreciated them. He knew how lucky he was. And that happiness and gratitude [were] obvious whenever you spent any time with him. He just made people feel good."
Friends, and of course family.
"My brother Matt would do anything for his niecesfrom having balloon wars to sitting down for an old fashioned tea party," said Becky Burke, one of Snyder's sisters. "When [the nieces] were little, he wanted to make sure they had the proper attire to cheer on the [University of Nebraska] Cornhuskers and made sure each had their own cheerleader outfit for game day."
Burke's daughter, Shelbi, 20, who was Snyder's niece, added, "My uncle Matt was an incredible man; I am so lucky that I had him in my life."
Services for Snyder are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Alphonsus Church ( 1429 W. Wellington Ave. ), with a reception to follow at Schubas ( 3159 N. Southport Ave. )