Los Angeles in the 1900s

Mayor Meredith Pinxton Snyder

1859–1937

by
George Garrigues

 

From the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express, April 8, 1937

Death Ends Career

of Meredith Snyder,

Four Times Mayor of L.A.

“Pinky” Snyder is dead.

And today a great city mourned the passing of the man who was four times its mayor and four half a century one of its first-rank citizens.

Meredith P. Snyder, 78, affectionately known to thousands as “Pinky” because of the color of his famous “mutton chop” sideburns, passed away peacefully at the Jonathan Club, where he lived, yesterday afternoon. He had been stricken by a heart attack earlier in the day.

His death followed by not very many months the passing of his wife, Mrs. May Ross Snyder. Since her demise, the one-time mayor had himself been failing.

The city will do honor to its former chief executive tomorrow when the body of Mr. Snyder will lie in state from noon until 5 p.m. in the rotunda [of the City Hall]. A police detachment will furnish a guard of honor.

The funeral will take place Saturday at 10 a.m., with services at Pierce Bros. chapel, 720 W. Washington St., and interment at the Hollywood Cemetery.

ELECTED MAYOR

In 1896 Los Angeles, on the verge of its “great growth,” found the youthful Snyder as a mayoralty candidate on an aggressive “reform” ticket. Already he was the crusader irrevocable which made him outstanding in civic life over the years.

He was elected and re-elected and re-elected again, then retired from public life for a while to engage in “gentleman farming,” and in the business of banking and finance.

After the close of the World War, in which he lost his only son, Capt. Ross Snyder, he returned to the political arena and was again chosen by the people of Los Angeles as they mayor.

He served two years, until 1921, when he lost in his campaign for a fifth term to George E. Cryer.

Again he retired from active political life, and again he came back when in 1931 the late Governor James Rolph Jr.

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drafted him to serve as state industrial accident commissioner. He held this post until failing health overtook him about a year ago, when he resigned.

HOST TO KING, QUEEN

It was during his final term, after the war, that Mayor Snyder won distinction as the “perfect American host” to Albert, King of the Belgians, and Queen Elizabeth when they visited here. He was decorated by Albert.

He played official city host to two Presidents as well, William McKinley at the turn of the century, and Woodrow Wilson when the latter visited Los Angeles during the hectic postwar days.

Mr. Snyder was almost as well known in San Francisco as he was in Los Angeles and, as a result of his statewide popularity, was once boomed as a Democratic candidate for governor.

For many years he was president of the California Guaranty Corp. and the Texas Gasoline Co.

Surviving him are a nephew, Joe Moxley of Saugus; a sister, who resides in Oregon, and a niece, Mrs. Pilleski of Los Angeles.

SHAW PAYS TRIBUTE

Citizens in every walk of life mourned the passing of Mr. Snyder. Of him, the present mayor, Frank L. Shaw, in a formally issued tribute, wrote:

“Death of Meredith P. Snyder comes as a distinct shock and loss to the citizens of Los Angeles. His long public service covers many of the most eventful years of our city. . . .”

From the Los Angeles Examiner,
April 8, 1937
From the Los Angeles Daily News,
April 8, 1937
From the Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1937

M.P. SNYDER,
EX-MAYOR, DIES

Former Official Served Four Terms as City’s Leader

Meredith P. Snyder, 78 years of age, four times Mayor of Los Angeles, died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday afternoon. . . .

Known as the originator of municipal ownership in California, Ex-Mayor Snyder was a banker, business man, and beloved by his allies under the friendly name of “Pinkie.” . . .

Before being elected Mayor, he served in 1895 as a City Councilman, and at other times during his civic career was police commissioner and member of the then Public Service Commission. . . .

One of the high lights of his colorful political career was the visit here of King Albert and Queen Elisabeth. At that time they bestowed on him the medal of the Order or Leopold II. In 1920, on the anniversary of his sixty-first birthday, an engraved certificate of the order was sent him by the Belgian monarch.

. . . He was a director of the Majestic Gasoline Company.

He was active in club and social circles, being a member of the Jonathan Club, the Wilshire and Los Angeles Country clubs and Lomita Shrine.

From the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express, April 9, 1937

L.A. Pays Tribute to M.P. Snyder’s Memory

Los Angeles paid tribute today to the memory of Meredith P. Snyder, four times its mayor, who died last Wednesday at the Jonathan Club, where he made his home.

Flags were at half staff on all city public buildings. The body of Mayor Snyder lay in state in the City Hall rotunda from noon until 5 p.m., surrounded by a guard of honor. . . .

Mr. Snyder was for many years prominently identified with the Knights Templar, and officers and members of

Golden West Commandery were asked to meet at the Masonic Temple, 706 West Pico Street, in full uniform at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow in order to attend the funeral services in a body.

The City Council yesterday adopted a resolution setting forth Mr. Snyder’s long service as mayor, city councilman, water and power commissioner and state industrial accident commissioner. . . . 

At Sacramento the State Senate adjourned as a mark of respect.

WHERE DID THE MAYOR GET HIS NICKNAME?

None of the contemporary obituaries mentioned the fact that Mayor Snyder’s middle name was PINXTON. That, more than his red hair, probably gave rise to his nickname. Most of these obits drew heavily upon material obviously furnished by the funeral home.

Mayors of the City of Los Angeles
1900-1909

Click on a name to read his obituary.
The Mayor
Dates of Birth and Death
Served as Mayor
Sept. 23, 1855–March 12, 1934
Dec. 15, 1898–Dec. 12, 1900
1859–April 7, 1937
Dec. 16, 1896 - Dec. 15, 1898,
Dec. 12, 1900–Dec. 8, 1904
and 1919-1921
1858–March 7, 1944
Dec. 8, 1904–Dec. 13, 1906
1866–Dec. 25, 1948
Dec. 13, 1906–March 11, 1909
1859–April 24, 1944
March 15, 1909–March 26, 1909
1839–Aug. 2, 1923
March 26, 1909–July 1913
To read more about any of these men, go to the Site Search Engine and type in the mayor’s last name.

The best single source for biographies of all Los Angeles mayors (through Tom Bradley) is Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820-1980, edited by Melvin G. Holli and Peter d’A. Jones, published by Greenwood Press in 1981.

Los Angeles history