Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Grace Snively (1913-2014)
MSA SC 3520-14535


Grace Snively was born on July 29, 1913, and worked for years as a house and office worker for a general practitioner, Dr. Jack Beachley.  Though Snively lived a fulfilling life with her husband, Russell Snively, who she married in 1943, her real passion came from her involvement in her community.  In fact, Snively convinced her husband Russell to join her in her community work so that they could “go to activities together.”1

Snively actively served her Hagerstown community for decades in many different capacities.  The service that she considered the most important, however, was as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society (ACS), handing out Pap smear kits for women to do in their own homes.  Snively recalled in an interview how she was called “the cancer woman” and how she met with a lot of resistance in the fairly isolated Western Maryland community.  Snively remembered that, “I was known as the cancer woman, and they wouldn’t let me in and said they weren’t interested.”2  Despite these difficulties, Snively took great pride and self-satisfaction out of the knowledge that she did change the lives of at least two women who learned they had cancer from the kits Snively gave them and were able to seek the treatment that saved their lives.  She noted that, “Each time I would see them, they said ‘Thank you’ and I thanked them for following through with the test.”3  The fact that Snively provided these two women with the information they needed to treat their diseases was one of her proudest moments.4

In addition to her work for the ACS, Snively was also actively involved in the Community Correctional Service Committee, an organization that helps inmates at the Maryland Correctional Facility in Hagerstown.  Additionally, Snively was also a volunteer for her electoral precinct.  Working there for over thirty years, Snively eventually became a chief judge.5

Despite being in her 90s, Grace Snively continues to volunteer with the ACS, an organization she first joined in the 1950s.  Snively is also still active on the Community Correctional Service Committee and acts as a missionary and trustee for Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church.  She also belongs to the Elks Sharon Temple 160 and Deborah Chapter 12 of the Eastern Star.6

Grace Snively largely credits her mother, Naomi Mason, with instilling in her a sense of responsibility toward others.  Snively described her mother’s dedication to the people of her community: “Mother just did for everybody, anything that had to be done…she felt it was part of her and she had to do it, wanted to do it.”7  Not surprisingly, when asked whom she most admired, Snively responded, “My mother, definitely my mother, for the moral principles she instilled in me.”8

Grace Snively has received numerous local awards for her work in rural Western Maryland, and once said that the recognition meant a lot to her because, “I put a lot of living in – not for publicity’s sake, but I enjoyed community work.”9  Snively was also recognized by the Maryland Senior Citizen’s Hall of Fame, earning a spot in the Hall in 1999.  Most recently, Snively was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006.10

When asked three words that best describe her, Grace Snively replied, “Love, truthfulness, generous,” three words that clearly express her life and her commitment to helping those in her community.  Snively explained her approach to volunteering as “doing for people that couldn’t do for themselves, that needed help, needed support in any way, physically, mentally – going and talking to them.”11  She also added, “To me, (helping others) was something that not only needed to be done, that had to be done.”12

Grace Snively died August 6, 2014 at the age of 101 in Hagerstown, Maryland. She was remembered for a life dedicated to the goodness of her community.13


1. Julie E. Greene, "Community Work Makes Woman Proud," The Herald-Mail 24 April 2005. Return to text

2. Ibid. Return to text

3. Ibid. Return to text

4. Ibid. Return to text

5. Ibid. Return to text

6. Ibid. Return to text

7. Ibid. Return to text

8. Ibid. Return to text

9. Ibid. Return to text

10. Ibid. Return to text

11. Ibid. Return to text

12. Ibid. Return to text

13. "Grace M. Snively, 101," The Herald-Mail, 7 August 2014, Return to text


Biography written by 2006 summer intern Amy Huggins. Updated by 2015 summer intern Amelia Meman.

Return to Grace Snively's Introductory Page

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