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Death of Harry Sneider

Harry and SarahWe were saddened to learn recently that long-time Ambassador College employee Dr. Harry Sneider has died. Harry is pictured at right with his wife Sarah who survives him.

Just a few days after Harry’s death, GCI pastor Neil Earle gave tribute to Harry in a baccalaureate address at Glendora High School. Entitled “Time and Chance,” Neil’s message centered on Ecclesiastes 9:11, with examples from the world of sports to illustrate that the race truly is not always to the swift. Time and chance does happen to all. Neil then noted that Harry rose above time and chance to become an accomplished weight-lifter, Olympic coach and sought-after personal trainer. Here is part of what Neil said:

Harry with fellow weight-lifter Arnold Schwarzenegger
Harry with fellow weight-lifter Arnold Schwarzenegger

Harry had been told his leg must be amputated back in Germany about 1948 when his family was trying to escape Latvia and head for the U.S. But his mother prayed and he was able to function even though he had a battle with osteomylitis all his life. Because he could jump only three inches, Harry decided to become a weight lifter. When his family finally made it to the U.S., Harry became a champion weight lifter, pumping 451 pounds at age 61 in the Pasadena Senior Olympics.

In recent years, Harry and Sarah have hosted these Senior Olympics.

Our condolences to Sarah, to the rest of Harry’s family and to his many friends.

Cards may be sent to:

Sarah Sneider
115 Loralyn Dr
Arcadia, CA 91006-1631


8 thoughts on “Death of Harry Sneider”

  1. We are very sorry to hear about Harry’s passing away.

    Our deepest sympathy to Sarah and to all the family and friends.

    I remember Harry from the old Pasadena AC days. One day I watched him on the college track together with Dwight Stones, the legendary American high jumper. I was impressed to know how through Harry Ambassador College was making high level significant contributions in the field of athletics.

    Harry was an inspiration to many and memories of his accomplishments are sure to live on.

  2. I remember the “talks” Harry would have with the AC men students in our dorms on Friday nights. He spoke with some “salty” language (in the right way) about being masculine. He was a great guy to have on a college campus.

  3. Harry Sneider was one of the most inspiring persons I’ve ever met. Looking forward to seeing him again with a completely renovated body.

  4. Harry was always a motivator! Though I never took weight lifting class with him even in basketball, swimming, gymnastics and other sports, Harry was someone to whom we all looked as an example of masculine strength and persistence. When I was a student, in Pasadena, He was still in his prime and amazed us with what he could do with weights. He is still remembered with fondness. My sincere condolences to Sarah.

  5. Our prayers are as God has said, He will never leave nor forsake you. We pray for comfort, encouragement and strength during this adjusting time of losing someone so dear. God is indeed the God of comfort.

  6. I’m just one example of a person Harry took under his wing to work with. I came to AC 6′ tall but only 130 lbs. He put me on a track to gain weight. For me the 146 I reached was a miracle, as was a 3rd place finish in a wight-lifting tournament. The interest was personal and genuine with Harry. Always remembered, unforgettable, consistent, lovable. Sarah’s tribute to Harry was lovely and right on. Condolences to her and family.

  7. Harry was always positive and encouraging…even to those who weren’t so good at athletics. I remember enjoying rebounding classes with him and Sarah.
    May our loving God give you comfort and peace in your loss.

  8. Here is a more detailed recounting of Harry’s life:

    Harry was born in Riga, Latvia on March 19, 1941. When the Russians arrived in 1944 he and his family escaped going through Krakow, Poland, then into Czechoslovakia, and eventually a Displaced Persons camp in Germany. While in Germany he developed osteomyelitis in his leg and almost died at age 6. He basically became handicapped for the rest of his life. In 1949 he and his family came to the United States and settled in Minneapolis, MN. It was there that Harry underwent another surgery, this one requiring a nine-inch plate near his hip joint.

    Never considering himself “handicapped” he played football throwing better than the pros, softball, basketball, and won racquetball championships. He was a world record holder in the bench press, pressing 450 lbs at age 61! As a professional fitness trainer he trained many actors including Susan Anton for her role in Golden Girl. He trained and was a good friend with Tony Dow, Wally in “Leave it to Beaver”. Coach Sneider trained many Olympic athletes, including Dwight Stones, 2 time Olympic bronze medalist and 3 time world record holder in the high jump; James Butts, Olympic silver medalist in the triple jump; Mark Gorski, Olympic gold medalist in cycling. Harry was nominated Track and Field Coach for the 1980 Olympics.

    One of Coach Sneider’s memorable trainees was Bob Wieland, who had had his legs blown off from the hip down while serving in the Vietnam War. Harry completed four marathons with Bob and encouraged Bob on his walk across the United States on his knuckles to The White House. Harry also trained long-time friend Wayne Grimditch, winner of Superstars. Lee Brandon, a graduate of Ambassador College and 2-time World Long Drive Champion was mentored by Harry. As a trainer of champions he was a longtime friend of Jack LaLanne and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He developed a revolutionary fitness program and authored the best selling book, Harry and Sarah Sneiders’ Olympic Trainer. He created fitness videos Sneiders 20 Minute Workout DVD and Sneiders Resistive Rebounding DVD helping many thousands to better health around the world. He participated in The Great American Workout at The White House, Washington D.C. in 1992.
    He went to the University of Minnesota for his A.A. degree. In 1967 he came to California to attend Ambassador College and earned his B.A. degree and eventually his doctorate from Pacific Western University. He was on the faculty at Ambassador College and was Executive Fitness Director until the college closed in 1990. He then along with his wife, Sarah, and son Rob, continued to train Olympians, champion athletes in tennis, track and field, basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball and more at Sneiders Family Fitness in Arcadia. He was very involved in the Senior Olympics and hosted the annual Senior Games Powerlifting Championships for 21 years. He also trained many families, couples, as well as high school athletes to achieve college scholarships which he continued up until his death. His son Rob and wife Sarah continue the family business.

    Hundreds of articles were written about Harry, including Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and the L.A. Times. He wrote many articles for the local papers and recently completed a manuscript about his 36 years as trainer and friend to world chess champion Bobby Fischer which is being looked at by a movie producer. He was filmed in the movie Pumping Iron starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and more recently had a major role in the documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World. He is also featured in the TV series The Leading Gen. What will you do with the rest of your life?

    His family was always the center of his world and he leaves behind his loving wife of over 45 years, Sarah, and his three children, Deborah Morris, Karl Sneider and Rob Sneider, son-in-law Tom Morris, daughter-in-law Leticia Sneider, four grandchildren, Madison Morris, Mason Morris, William Sneider and Julian Sneider, his mother Elsa Sneider, brother Karl Peter Sneider, sister Ilse Sneider and many nieces and nephews.
    Harry Sneider’s world record breaking bench press of 450 lbs at age 61!

    Harry Sneider was an amazing man,” larger than life”. His life story is one of overcoming. He was always incredibly positive, cheerful, faith filled, an inspiration and encouragement. He was a God centered individual and always trusted God to direct his steps. Most of all he was a CHAMPION PERSON! Touching the lives of many around the world with his positive attitude, he made the world a better place. Coach Sneider was always eager to help others achieve their ultimate human potential. He lived his life to the fullest with integrity, generosity, and an abiding faith in God and a deep conviction to encourage others. To his family and friends he was a larger than life hero and although he will be deeply missed, his smile will live in our hearts forever. His was a life well lived. He was a WINNER!

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