November 7, 1952: Death of Samuel Frisby Snively, Duluth’s “Grand Old Dad”

On this day in Duluth in 1952, former mayor Samuel Frisby Snively died at the home of his niece Zelda Overland, where he lived for the final three years of his life. Snively, a lifelong bachelor, was an attorney by trade and a road builder by passion. Elected five times, he was Duluth’s longest-serving mayor and much loved throughout the city for his generosity and compassion, and the Duluth News Tribune referred to him as “Duluth’s Grand Old Man.” In 1923 he wrote a simple statement that remained true for the rest of his days: “My life here in Duluth, like that of many of my contemporaries, has had its success and its disappointments, but always [has been] lived in support of measures I believe designed for the common good of this city and its people.” A fairly modest statement for a man who accomplished so much. His grave in Hermantown’s Sunrise Memorial Cemetery contains an epitaph that is a kinder, more accurate version of the News Tribune’s name for Snively: “Duluth’s Grand Old Dad.” In 1934 a bandstand was constructed in Lincoln Park, and the Swedish American League had a plaque made in honor of Snively that was affixed to the building. It read in part, “Mayor S. F. Snively / Reciprocated Popular Affection of Noble Ideas / Promoted Parks, Blvds, Libraries / Long Time Mayor.” The plaque is gone, and while just a faint concrete outline of Snively’s face can be seen on the pavilion, his legacy is visible in just about every Duluth park and parkway. You can read about the remarkable life of this amazing Duluthian here.

Samuel F. Snively. (Image: Duluth Public Library)