James Snyder Jr., a former Republican state House member and longtime figure in Davidson County and North Carolina politics, died Sunday at age 76 from an extended illness, according to his family.
Snyder, a Lexington native, served one year in the state House from the 31st District in 1972. He finished the term of his late father, James Snyder Sr. He did not run for re-election, citing he had a family with small children, according to his wife Sandra.
However, once their daughters Elizabeth and Courtney started their adult lives, Sandra Snyder said her husband immersed himself in politics.
Snyder was a stalwart of the Davidson County Republican Party, having served as its chairman.
He ran unsuccessfully twice for the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2014.
According to news reports, Snyder focused his U.S. Senate campaigns on international trade issues, such as NAFTA, as well as education, retirement security, health care and the U.S. military.
Snyder was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2004, losing to Democrat Bev Perdue in the general election. He was defeated in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor in 2008.
“Jim was a family man first and always, exemplary in his role as father and grandfather,” Sandra Snyder said.
Elizabeth Snyder said her father remained a political candidate after losses because “he never lost his drive. He always had a grassroots appeal within the Republican Party, and constantly was being told by people that he was the only Republican that they would vote for.”
“He always knew he had a gift to help people, and he felt he could do that best as an attorney and as a politician.”
Sandra Snyder said her husband “felt (politics) was a calling and that he could make a positive difference for his community and for the state.”
According to a campaign website, Snyder served as student body president at Lexington High School.
He received the John Motley “Morehead” Scholarship and initially attended UNC-Chapel Hill before transferring to Wake Forest. He served as senior class president, as well as class president at the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Snyder, a 6-foot, 6-inch forward, played varsity basketball at Wake Forest University for the 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons under coach Bones McKinney. He averaged 1.3 points per game for his career. He also played tennis at Wake Forest.
Snyder graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from Wake Forest in 1967, and earned a law degree there in 1970.
He practiced law for about 50 years, primarily at his firm, James E. Snyder Jr. Attorney at Law, before retiring in 2018.
Besides being an attorney in corporate and insurance law, Snyder published at least 16 corporate and insurance law books and a book of prayers titled “A Lawyer Prays God’s Will for his Clients.”
“Jim was an institution for the bar in Davidson County, and a mentor to so many young attorneys, including me,” said Chris Geis, a civil litigation lawyer and partner with the Winston-Salem office of Womble Bond Dickinson.
“He treated everyone with dignity, seeing the good in everyone.”