Mourners salute slain Morton shop teacher, his wife

2013-11-03T21:00:00Z 2013-11-04T13:59:06Z Mourners salute slain Morton shop teacher, his wifeLU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent
November 03, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Laughter, smiles and tears mingled Sunday during a memorial service for a former Morton High School teacher and his wife who were killed last month.

Clifford and Joyce Snow were found dead Oct. 18 in their home near Lowell.

Their son, Thomas J. Snow, 34, of West Creek Township, is suspected in their slayings, police said. He's currently being held in a Minnesota jail on unrelated charges.

Generations of students and fellow faculty members gathered at the Hammond high school to remember Clifford Snow, 68, who taught industrial arts and auto shop there for more than 40 years, and his wife, Joyce 66.

Officials with the School City of Hammond helped organize the memorial service with the Snows' daughter, Julie Niemeyer, of St. Charles, Mo.

“This is overwhelming,” Niemeyer said as she greeted hundreds of people in the school's cafeteria before the service in the auditorium. “It is both joyous and comforting at the same time.”

As a shop teacher at Morton High School from 1967 until his retirement in 2009, Clifford Snow was a mentor and father figure to students from the Hessville section of Hammond, Niemeyer said.

“I didn’t know I had so many siblings,” she said with a smile. “It’s great to know how many lives my dad touched.”

Her father was someone who spoke his mind and her mother "could dish it right back,” Niemeyer said.

“She was one of the most patient persons I’ve ever known," she said.

John Warmelink, of Hammond, and Tom Clawson, of Lowell, recalled playing football at Hammond Technical Vocational High School with Clifford Snow. They all graduated in 1963.

“Wasn’t it just a few days ago (we graduated)? We all had those flattops (haircuts),” said Clawson, looking at photo displays in the cafeteria of Clifford and Joyce Snow.

“There are some many good old memories,” Warmelink said.

Memories of the couple shared by former students, colleagues, relatives and longtime friends drew hearty laughs, bittersweet smiles and tears.

Niemeyer and technical staff from Morton High School assembled a photo montage set to songs such as “Drift Away” by The Doobie Brothers. The photos followed the high school sweethearts from childhood to their retirement years.

“It seemed like they were made for each other,” said Robert Merchant, Joyce Snow’s brother. “She and Clifford belonged together.”

Also known as “Sam,” Joyce Snow “loved a good party," longtime friend Coral Penzato in a letter read by Helen Jancich.

"She had a truly unique chuckle and a fine-tuned sense of humor,” Penzato's letter said. “She loved books and her dogs. ... She instinctively knew how to be happy.”

Morton High teacher Greg Jancich said Clifford Snow “was a great teacher and quite a character.

"Cliff became a father figure to so many students and helped turn them into adults and responsible citizens," he said. "He is a Morton legend and will always be.”

Ray Anderson, a former student, said the connection with Clifford Snow lasted long after he graduated.

“My dad owns Anderson Auto Parts (and) he came into the store a lot,” Anderson said. “Mr. Snow changed my life. ... He taught us not to be afraid to make mistakes.”

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