Elroy J. Snouffer, 78, hiked Appalachian Trail

December 14, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Elroy J. Snouffer, a Baltimore lawyer and accountant who hiked the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail without ever spending a night in a sleeping bag, died Monday of heart failure at his Lansdowne home. He was 78.

Mr. Snouffer began hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1965, but he didn't do it all at once. He'd select a section of the trail he wanted to hike, then he and his wife would drive to the chosen point. He'd hike and she'd meet him at the other end.

Although such an unorthodox approach pegged him as a novice "day hiker" in the eyes of serious hikers, Mr. Snouffer, a carefree and jocular soul, was unmoved.

"I said I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail. I didn't say I was going to do it all at once or all in one direction," he said in a 1980 interview in the Sunday Sun Magazine. "That way, I get to spend the night in a nice comfortable motel bed instead of the hard ground, and I'm rested and ready to start where I left off the next day."

Mr. Snouffer's initial assault on the trail, which stretches from Mount Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Ga., began at Pen Mar, near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. He completed it 16 years later.

During the summers he hiked north. When the cold weather arrived, he'd switch directions. The most he ever walked in one day was 40 miles.

His average hike was 16 miles, which he described as a "healthy chunk of walking."

On his perambulations he wore nothing more than ordinary hiking shoes and never wore a backpack. He carried an old steel-tipped walking stick and his only supplies were a water bottle and raisins and nuts.

He had open-heart surgery in 1979, and in 1981, after a quadruple bypass, he was back on the trail determined to finish at Mount Katahdin. "He asked me to accompany him up Mount Katahdin because he was determined to get there and said if he died doing it, I was there to at least carry his body out. It took us all day, but we made it," said his son, Joseph "Jay" Snouffer of Roland Park.

After completing the trail, Mr. Snouffer continued hiking until several years ago when he began experiencing trouble with his joints and legs.

"We were able to cover a lot of miles and a lot of subject matter," said the son who often was his father's hiking companion.

Mr. Snouffer, who lived in the same Lansdowne house for 70 years, was a 1936 graduate of Catonsville High School. While working for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., he studied

accounting at the old Baltimore College of Commerce and became a certified public accountant in 1940.

In 1951, he earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from the University of Maryland Law School in 1953.

In the late 1940s, he established and became a partner of Snouffer and Co., auditors and tax consultants, and president of Snouffer Properties Inc., a real estate corporation. He retired this year.

He was a former chairman of the Baltimore County Board of Recreation and Parks board and helped establish Hillcrest Park in Lansdowne and the Lansdowne Public Library.

He was a member of Lutheran Church of Our Savior, 141 Laverne Ave., Lansdowne, where services will be held at 2 p.m. today.

He is survived by his wife, the former Dorothy L. Manns, whom he married in 1943; his son; two daughters, Deborah S. Winchester of Annapolis and Susan S. Miller of Washington, D.C.; a brother, Joseph B. Snouffer of Catonsville; a sister, Verna Spies of Catonsville; and six grandchildren.

Pub Date: 12/14/96

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