Robert Joseph Snapp

January 31, 2019

Robert Joseph Snapp joined this world on April 17, 1928, and left it peacefully on January 28, 2019, gracing us with his presence for 90 years, 9 months and 12 2-1-19 OBIT Snappdays.

Within that notable (as he would no doubt inform you) timespan, he lived a life full of friends, family, firearms, and fantastic stories.

Bob was born in Marshall, Minnesota, the younger of two sons of Harley Floyd Snapp and Rose Reinboldt Snapp.

He spent his childhood learning the ways of the woods and fields, and eating his mother’s most wonderful cooking in the world. Do not doubt him on this.

The family moved to Detroit, where Bob attended the renowned Cass Tech High School from 1943-1946, a magnet school full of science labs, machine shops, 23 technical curricula, and a cosmopolitan student body. Only the best and brightest gained entry into Cass Tech–but you all knew that Bob was such a person, right?

Bob, being a technical, hands-on guy, decided to become a custom gunsmith, focusing on metalwork and barreling.

He learned the trade at Trinidad State in Colorado, which offered the perfect blend for him of the glorious outdoors and immersion in a world of technical excellence and craftsmanship.

Bob always had his Snapp’s Gunshop attached to the house, first in Royal Oak, Michigan and later in Clare, Michigan, so that he could always be nearby for his family.

He was known as a master craftsman of custom rebarreling and modification of actions, and was highly sought after for his skills in that world.

He rose to the top of the custom gunmaker’s world as the president of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild in 1992, and was part of a team that crafted the Guild’s annual raffle item in 1997, a firearm set that was dubbed the “Special Sporting Set.”

It included a Winchester single-shot rifle, a Colt single-action target revolver, and a Bowie-style hunting knife, all housed in a custom oak and leather case. Later in his career he focused exclusively on the Martini Cadet single-shot rifle, of which he produced at least two examples for show, and five or more for individuals. Bob was also an expert on the 98 Mauser and the Model 99 Savage, among other types.

He met the most beautiful woman in the world, Lee Comstock–don’t argue with him on this–at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit. Mom’s unfailing diary entry on nearly every succeeding day was “Bob called.”

They married at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Detroit on May 28, 1955, and danced their way through their lives together.

Bob and Lee started their married life in Royal Oak, Michigan, where they square danced with the Folk Fun Club, began a family of five children (plus Shasta and Shawnee, beagles, and Friskie the cat), and sent their daughters to the Borgo Sisters School of Dance in multi-colored tutus, two doors down.

Bob and Lee were quite a dashing pair when they stepped out on the town to dance, mom in her lipstick and white gloves, dad in his crisp pants and fedora. Sadly, no tutus.

After their years of living it up in the dance and music halls of Detroit’s heyday, they decided to pursue their other dream: living in the country. Bob and Lee moved to Clare in 1969 with their children Sharon, Ann, Lisa, and Mark, joined a few years later by Glenn. You are no doubt aware of the outstandingness of Bob and Lee’s children, so we won’t regale you with tales of their prowess here. Another time, perhaps.

Bob was a long-standing member of the Clare United Methodist Church, where he ushered, cooked at the pancake and wild game suppers (not on the same night) and, hopefully, did not sing. Bob most definitely could not sing, the one fault to which he would cop. This did not prevent him, however, from performing his signature piece, “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” whenever a campfire was nearby. There were a few other things he was not good at, like the dishes, ballet dancing, and restrained discourse. No one’s perfect.

He did, however, make a fine beef stew. He liked shrimp. Clean hand towels were a must. He loved to hunt, and take his family camping, and help his children build excitingly dangerous things, like go-carts out of old chaise lounges. For those long family road trips to national parks, he made sippy cups, before they were a thing, by soldering metal straws through jar lids. We won’t think about the lead solder. Bob was a fine dancer. He followed the Detroit Tigers religiously. He loved all things WWII, especially the strategy, and could converse for hours on the topic. He taught his family about our ancestry, the Volga Deutsch. Bob loved playing Euchre and Pinochle; no other card games need apply. He enjoyed the annual family reunions at Elk Lake, home of the aforementioned campfires. He loved the written word and insisted on correct word usage (Bob, insistent?!? Surely we jest). He enjoyed photography. His photos were properly labeled.

Bob spent his later years enjoying the fine people of mid-Michigan, including his second wife, Hazel Jeffrey and her family, who brought joy back into his life. He regularly enjoyed the good company of his card-playing neighbors and friends, the fine people of the Clare United Methodist Church, his hunting partners, and the notables of Cops and Doughnuts, who kept an eye on him and made him feel welcome and loved.

And although he might not have said thank you, he meant it. We do, too. Thank you for making Bob’s life one of contentment and community. His legacy lives on in all of you. Thank you for being a part of his life.

Bob was preceded in death by his brother, Harley Floyd Snapp, Jr., his mother, Rose Reinboldt Snapp, his father, Harley Floyd Snapp, Sr., a great-grandchild, Christina Kiehnau, and his beloved wife, Lee Comstock Snapp.

Bob is survived by his children, Sharon Snapp-Kolas and husband Roy, Ann Rodgers and husband Pat, Lisa Snapp and husband John Mouat, Mark Snapp and wife Carol, and Glenn Snapp and wife Amy, and grandchildren Joshua Kolas, Christopher Kolas, Emily Rodgers Comer, Isobel Mouat, Julia Mouat, Henry Snapp, Lydia Snapp, Kathryn Snapp Kiehnau, Gabriel Snapp, and Rachel Snapp, and great-grandchildren Titus Kolas, Lucian Kiehnau, and Octavia Kiehnau.

An event celebrating Bob’s life is being planned for later this year.

A memorial service will be held at the Clare United Methodist Church at 11AM on Thursday, February 7.

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