Walter Alexander Snickenberger Jr. ’75

Walt died of a sudden heart attack at his home in Wellesley, Mass., on August 12, 2020. Entering Princeton from Ithaca, N.Y., with the Class of 1974 after a postgraduate year at Andover, he proved to be one of Princeton’s greatest all-around athletes. In 1970–71 he made significant contributions both on the gridiron and in Baker Rink and was named MVP of the Freshman Hockey Team. He went on to earn three varsity letters in football and in hockey and served as hockey co-captain in 1972–73.

            Walt earned his A.B. in history in 1975 and had many devoted Princeton friends. Even Princetonians who did not know “Snick” personally, though, knew that his name was all over the Princeton Football record book, among the all-time leaders in areas like rushing yards (3.173, the sixth-best in program history), rushing touchdowns, and all-purpose yards. He was Princeton’s first winner of the Bushnell Cup (Ivy League Football Player of the Year).

            Walt was a two-time first-team All-Ivy League Football selection and, in 1974, was a first-team All-American, the only Ivy player ever to earn that selection without a winning team record. He was named to the North Team roster of and played in the postseason American Bowl All Star college football game in Tampa, Fla. As classmates, roommates, and teammates attest, despite being an extraordinary athlete with so many achievements and accolades, however, Walt always carried himself with great humility.

            Although he did go to the New England Patriots camp with a free-agent tryout after Princeton, Walt decided instead to head into the business world. Most of his career was in corporate human resources, with R.H. Macy & Co. in New York and Commercial Union Insurance in Boston and then for many years as a consultant in that field.

            Walt and Wendy Simila (Dartmouth ’76) were married in 1983 and settled in Wellesley. They reared three bright and athletic children—all collegiate athletes: Alex (Boston College, golf), Mark (Hamilton, football), and Sally (UVM, field hockey). In his sixty-eight years, Walt wore many hats as scholar, standout athlete, loving husband, proud father, dedicated youth sports coach, dog lover, and, most recently, adoring grandfather of Caroline.

He was also a great teammate, roommate, and friend, and a loyal son of Old Nassau who will be sorely missed after leaving us far too soon.

Undergraduate Class of 1975