MIAMI TOWNSHIP – It has been a celebratory few weeks for Ken Snavely, a resident of Trinity Community at Miami Township, a United Church Homes community located near Centerville. The community designated July 24 as Ken Snavely Day in recognition of his 102nd birthday.
“At Trinity Community at Miami Township, we celebrate all kinds of life milestones for residents,” Executive Director Charlie Thompson said. “One way we provide a rich lifestyle in our community is by offering residents opportunities to stay active. On any given day, you’ll see activities such as water aerobics in our outdoor, heated pool, computer classes, movie nights and a myriad of other activities to keep residents engaged.”
Born in 1917, Snavely grew up as a single child in Middletown, Pennsylvania, a small town near Harrisburg, with a population of around 6,500 people. During the Great Depression, the only work that was available in the town was at Harrisburg Air National Guard Base. Many women, including Snavely’s mother, worked in a clothing factory. Snavely’s father worked on the railroad as a “track man” and was also an amateur baseball player.
Snavely graduated high school in 1933 and had trouble finding work amid the Great Depression. His first job was working for a bakery as a delivery boy for regular customers, delivering fresh baked products. In 1938, he began working as a civilian employee at the Harrisburg Air National Guard Base. In 1941, he moved to Rome, New York, to help open an air base there. In 1943, Snavely joined the Army Air Force, serving in England and Germany until 1946. His final rank was staff sergeant. Snavely returned to Rome after the war, continuing to work as a civilian employee for the Air Force. In 1965, he transferred to Air Force Logistics Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.
Snavely and his late wife, Lovina, married in Rome, New York, in 1952 and raised their son and daughter there and later nearby Kettering. He also lived in West Carrollton from 1978 – 2014, when he moved into the independent living community in Miami Township. His son lives in Florida and his daughter lives in the Dayton area. The family rented a large house during his birthday week so they could accommodate 15 family members, including three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, who came to celebrate.
Today, Snavely is active in Post 2246 of the Veterans of Foreign Affairs in Centerville, attending meetings twice per month. In recent years, membership has been declining, but Snavely is happy to see that new younger members have been joining.
“I’d like to see membership continue to grow,” Snavely said.
Snavely says he enjoys socializing with other residents of Trinity Community at Miami Township. He is glad to not have to do home maintenance and lawn care.
“Everything you need is here. I don’t even have to go to the grocery store anymore,” Snavely said, adding he has made many new friends at Trinity.
Asked what his secret is to long life, Snavely replied, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Trinity staff said he truly lives by that advice.
“I don’t feel like I’m 102,” Snavely said.
Snavely stays active by volunteering at Cox Arboretum in Dayton. In his younger days, he visited the park regularly and eventually inquired about volunteering. Snavely became friends with the director. Ornamental grasses were his specialty. In 2015, he received a plaque in appreciation for his 35 years of service, presented to Ken Snavely, “The Grass Man.”
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