Randall “Randy” Snyder lived a life remembered by those who attended an outdoor memorial for the Broomfield man who died homeless near the neighborhood where he grew up.
“Stories are the best way to honor grief and to honor Randy,” Kathy Escobar said to the group of about 50 who attended an outdoor memorial at the Refuge. Everyone who attended wore masks and were invited to move chairs to accommodate their comfort levels.
Escobar and Mike Herzog, Refuge co-pastors, officiated at the memorial ceremony.
Grief has no rules, Escobar said, and she encouraged people to “feel whatever you’re feeling” as the group of community members met to remember all stages of Snyder’s life — from his uncle recalling how he was one of the first to hold Snyder as a newborn to employees at King Soopers and McDonalds where he made friends and was a regular in the months leading up to his death.
Snyder, who died either late Sept. 23 or early Sept. 24, was a Broomfield High School graduate, served in the Army Reserves and had several professions over his lifetime including stock broker, electrician and having his own janitorial business.
Cindy Pickerel, who helps keep the grounds at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, tearfully talked about her interactions with Snyder, whose humility and consideration she treasured.
Pickerel said she is “grateful and humbled” that Snyder called the church home. Snyder kept the space where he would camp out and sleep in his cardboard box “immaculate,” she said.
Over the summer she would go to the gardens early and had “wonderful conversations” when she would go over to say hi and check on Snyder. The last day she saw him alive he had said he wasn’t feeling too well and that his knee had been bothering him, she she helped him fill his water bottle so he could drink an Emergen-C packet. He told Pickerel he was good on food and she promised to come back and check on him the next day.
When she returned the following morning, he had died.
“We think he passed away that evening and we hope he went peacefully,” she said at the ceremony.
Snyder was the first homeless person to touch Pickerel’s life, and she his, and said she was honored to have known him.
He was the second person in the past 14 months, along with James Waielewski, who died last summer, to die on the streets in Broomfield.
Snyder had a lot of friends in the community, housed and unhoused, Refuge Outreach Director Marrty Dormish said, and Dormish fielded calls after his death.
“I just was thinking to myself, you know people need to know about this,” Dormish said. “I think Randy would want that. And not just because he was unhoused, but because he was truly a good man. Unassuming and quiet, but always helpful and caring.”
His death was not COVID-related because Snyder had recently been tested and received a negative result, Dormish said, and it wasn’t drugs because Snyder was “adamantly against” them. The coroner determined the cause of death was related to Snyder’s heart issues, Dormish said.
Snyder was estranged from most of his family, but a brother, niece and cousin attended the memorial.
Snyder was born June 8, 1965, to Ronald and Dorothy Snyder, according to his obituary. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt, fish and camp in the Rocky Mountains and in Alaska.
“He loved the peace and solace of the outdoors, and a good backyard barbecue with family and friends, especially if it was for a Broncos game,” it states.
Snyder is survived by his two sons, Brandon and Austin, his two brothers, Ron and Ryan, his sister Rebecca and his nieces and nephews including Crystal Snyder, who spoke at Saturday’s ceremony.
At the Refuge, Snyder was a part of the community and was always watching out for others’ safety and fixing things around the building.
At the ceremony were a Broomfield couple who knew Snyder, would have him over for meals and let him sleep in their sun room, a friend who knew him as a child and recalled trips to Red Feather Lakes with his family, and friends he had made at the Refuge.
Dormish said his friends at the Refuge had seen him just a few days before and were struggling with the news of his death. At the ceremony, one woman shared how Snyder taught her to protect herself when she first became homeless.
“Anytime I was down he always had a joke, he always made me laugh,” she said. “All the way to the end.”
Snyder’s niece, Crystal Snyder, thanked everyone for coming and said her uncle would have loved seeing everyone there. She told one story about how the cousins, including Snyder’s young son, tried to pose for a photo. Brandon would cry when Snyder put him down, she he ended up laying on the floor with all the children piled around and on top of him so his son would stop crying and the photographer could snap a photo.
Snyder said she’ll remember her uncle as that goofy and lovable person.
“Thank you for loving him,” she said. “I hope you find your peace under Randy. I love you.”