Jack Snell, a lifelong resident of Bakersfield, passed away April 7, 2020 while being treated for pneumonia. He was just shy of his 91st birthday.
Jack was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Natalie and is survived by: his children Cynthia Snell & husband Bryn Turner, and Nancy Finzel; grandchildren Jacquelyn Arias, Megan Kline & husband George, and Micah Turner; and great-grandchildren Jasmine and Christian Arias, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Jack was born in Bakersfield on May 1, 1929 to Donald and Ethel Snell. He was the youngest of two
brothers and spent most of his childhood in Oildale. His family did spend a bit of time living in a “tent” according to his stories on top of Greenhorn Mountain. He attended Standard School and Kern Union / BHS graduating in 1947. In high school he spent time at Mitchner’s Drive -In with his best buddies Bill Hansen and Bill Richardson. After high school he followed his brother into the Navy spending 4 years on active duty as an Electronics Technician. He was discharged 2 weeks before the Korean conflict broke out. He got his draft papers for the Army – went into the Navy recruiter, explained the situation and the recruiter filled out some papers, shook his hand and said welcome to the Navy Reserve. Jack spent 8 more years in the Navy Reserve, again as an Electronics Technician. During this time, he also worked as a Finish Carpenter and then started working in the oil fields.
Jack and Natalie met on a blind date arranged by their friends Bill Hansen and Barbara Fields who happened to be dating each other. They married on July 15, 1956. Early in their marriage they square danced with a group called the Knots Heads. Jack was a coin collector from a young age and enjoyed sharing his hobby with his girls when they were small. He also was on a bowling league.
At the age of 34, Jack became a firefighter with the Kern County Fire Department where he remained until his retirement at the age of 55. During his time in the Fire Department he became interested in metal detecting and did lots with fellow firefighter Bill Nicks. When his daughters were young, Jack was always encouraging them to do their best, reminding them that they could do anything if they put their minds to it. There were no limits. He was an avid bicycle rider and was the 4-H leader for bicycle, sharing his knowledge and love of riding. He again square danced with his daughters and the 4-H group in the Tanglefoot Squares.
He loved to travel with Natalie and hike and once he retired, his close friend Gene White and he walked up to 5 miles each day. During retirement Jack made an asserted effort to research his genealogy and spent many happy hours of research and several trips discovering much about his family tree – even meeting long lost relatives. Both he & Natalie volunteered at the Fire Dept. Annual BBQs for over 30 years. Jack also provided historical research and documentation for the Fire Department. Summers found him hiking with Cynthia for vacations and at 60, she decided Jack needed to learn to snow ski – so he did and continued to ski up until he was almost 80! Jack and Natalie were members of the Panama/Rosedale Grange for decades and Jack served as the Grand Master. Square dancing came back into Jack’s life again when he was 75. He joined the Joaquin Squares with Nancy.
Later on, they were joined by the grandkids and then the great grands. At one-point Jack was very proud to actually have four generations dancing together! Jack square danced up until he turned 90. Jack could fix just about anything, was always willing to help out a friend and family meant the world to him. He will be missed.
Due to current circumstances, there will be a private burial with a Celebration of Life held at a later date.