The Carroll County sports world lost two key figures when Herb Ruby and Al Snyder passed away within days of each other last spring.
Ruby, who passed away in late April at age 71, founded the county's first high school football team at Westminster in 1947 and compiled a 78-61-11 record as coach.
Later, the Westminster resident became supervisor of physical education and, among other things, developed the Outdoor School program, which gives middle school students the chance to study the environment.
He eventually became director of school facilities and oversaw the construction of several new buildings in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ruby's funeral brought together many of his former players who have become well-respected in the business and education fields. Charles Ecker, who in November won election as county executive in Howard County, attended, as did his brother Bill Ecker, superintendent of schools in Caroline County.
Ed Shilling, the Carroll school superintendent, was there, as was former West Middle principal Vic Makovich, Westminster architect Mel Arbaugh and North Carolina businessman Dick Havens, whose family has long been associated with area football.
Ruby was remembered as a hard-nosed coach who stressed conditioning, fundamentals and discipline.
Al Snyder of Hampstead died just a few days later and just before the Westminster Elks, a team he coached in 1989, started its second South Penn League baseball season. Snyder had been field general for the Elks in their first year and led the team to a playoff berth.
But Snyder had a long history of involvement in area baseball. A teacher and former baseball coach at Randallstown High in Baltimore County, Snyder gave up his school coaching duties to work with several Babe Ruth baseball programs in Carroll throughout the 1980s. After a few years out of active coaching, he came back in 1989 to manage the Elks.
But before the 1990 season began, weakened by a fight with cancer, Snyder handed the coaching reins to assistant Walt VonBussenius.
Snyder's son, Denny, had been a standout athlete at North Carroll High and Western Maryland, and now is a teacher and coach in the Carroll school system. Daughter, Tracey Snyder, also was a multi-sport standout at North Carroll and is in her senior year at Western Maryland College.