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William R. Snyder, a retired Erie County employee and decorated World War II veteran, died Thursday (May 22, 2003) in Veterans Affairs Medical Center after a long illness. He was 78.

Born in New Castle, Pa., he moved to Buffalo as a child with his family. He attended Hutchinson-Central High School and later served in the Army during World War II. He was awarded a Purple Heart after seeing action in Africa and Europe.

Snyder worked as a purchasing agent for the Erie County Department of Purchasing for most of his career. Following his retirement in the mid-1980s, he enrolled at Empire State College, where he studied art for three years despite having lost most of his vision due to macular degeneration. He especially enjoyed painting and sketching.

He campaigned vigorously for disabled veterans' rights, and he was an active member of the Resurrection Life Fellowship and Full Gospel Tabernacle churches.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Vivian Rice of Cheektowaga; three sons, William II of Cheektowaga, George of Forestville and Gordon of Cheektowaga; two daughters, Kimberly of Chicago and Kathleen Powers of Buffalo; two brothers, Donald of Buffalo and James of Cheektowaga; and six grandchildren.

Services will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Stephan-Burns Funeral Home, 266 East St.

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