The Snyder brothers credit their longevity to a hard work ethic and an honest lifestyle.
The trio — made up of Donald, Chuck and John Snyder — are the surviving siblings out of a group of seven, all of whom lived to be in their 90s.
“I talked to a doctor about the age thing in the family, and he said, ‘You just simply have very good genes,’ ” said Chuck, who recently turned 90. “The work ethic is probably what did it. All of us kids worked hard. I don’t know what else it would be.”
The Snyders grew up on a large plot of land in the Lewiston Orchards, where their family grew fruit trees and raised their own animals. Their father, Charles, worked at a flour mill, and their mother, Myrtle, did most of the work in the garden and focused on raising the kids.
“I don’t remember ever going hungry,” Chuck said. “We raised everything ourselves except for the sugar, of course, and dad brought home plenty of flour (from work.)”
All three have fond memories of living on the farm. Donald, who is the youngest of the three at 87 years old, said the kids spent a lot of time hunting squirrels and groundhogs.
“Our whole life was in the Orchards. We all went to the Orchards School and had the same principals and teachers,” said Donald. “We were all pretty favorable, and we didn’t get into a lot of trouble or anything like that.”
As kids, Donald and John both took on paper routes for the Lewiston Tribune under the watchful eye of Joe Girard, a man they said had no legs, but an impeccable work record. While the pay wasn’t the greatest, it gave them something to do.
When they were old enough to leave home, the oldest brother, John, who is 95, said they jumped at the chance.
“Every one of us kids, I guess we got out as soon as we could make a buck, and boy, were we after it,” John said. “I think just living a good, hard life did us some good.”
In the Snyder clan, six of the seven siblings served in the military.
Donald spent 20 years in the Air Force, mainly as a pilot. He retired as a lieutenant colonel. Chuck spent four years in the Air Force, where he was a drill sergeant and later became an aircraft technician, while John was drafted and served three years as a Marine.
Once they returned from service, the brothers spent stints living in other states, but they all returned to Lewiston.
Each went on to get married, although Donald’s wife, Helen, is the only spouse still alive.
“He was a little rascal, and he was a hard working son of a gun as well,” Helen said.
Each brother worked a variety of jobs before they retired.
Chuck owned a Harley shop and worked for the Lewiston Police Department. He also spent time in the integrated television department at Washington State University and was later the town marshal in Colton.
After he retired from the Air Force, Donald built houses, had a rock-crushing business and made investments in real estate.
John also was a real estate investor. He built subdivisions, was a truck driver and worked in the woods.
“I ended up doing pretty good for myself, and I had two darn good wives. If I hadn’t had them, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” John said. “I never really thought I’d live this long myself, but my whole life has been very interesting and I’m not going to knock any of it. Every day was a day that I looked forward to.”
The brothers, who all live in Lewiston, remain close and talk almost every day. Both Donald and Chuck continue to live in the Orchards, while John now lives at Wedgewood Terrace.