Merrill J. Snyder, 86, microbiologist


Merrill J. Snyder, a retired University of Maryland microbiologist and former deputy director of the division of infectious diseases at its medical school, died of cancer Wednesday at Sinai Hospital. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 86.

Born in McKeesport, Pa., he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He served in the Army during World War II and was assigned to Walter Reed Army Hospital where he studied rickettsial diseases, such as typhus.

He earned his master's degree and doctorate at the University of Maryland and in 1949 joined its School of Medicine, studying infectious diseases. He was named professor emeritus in 1987.

For many years, Dr. Snyder collaborated with Dr. Theodore E. Woodward, who died this summer, in a study of vaccine efficacy at the Maryland House of Correction. They researched typhoid fever, cholera and malaria.

"He had a loud voice whose personality easily projected across a room," said Joseph Libonati, a former deputy director of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene labs in downtown Baltimore and a teacher at the Johns Hopkins University. "He had a brilliant mind."

Dr. Snyder also conducted studies in Pakistan, Chile and Mexico City.

He was the author of numerous scholarly papers and was a book reviewer for The New England Journal of Medicine. He was also a past associate editor of American Journal of Epidemiology.

In 1973, Dr. Snyder was awarded the Barnett L. Cohen Award by the Maryland Chapter of the American Society for Microbiology "in recognition of his contributions, devotion and interest in promoting the science of microbiology."

As a young man, Dr. Snyder had become interested in magic. He collected magic memorabilia and tricks and performed for family and friends. He also enjoyed photography and attended area theatrical and musical events.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 64 years, the former Muriel Goodwin; three daughters, Sammie Moshenberg of Alexandria, Va., Susan Kamins of Gaithersburg and Terry Snyder of Sudbury, Mass.; a sister, Phyllis Small of McKeesport; and eight grandchildren. A son, Merrill Lawrence Snyder, died in 1949.

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