Obituaries 09-17-2020

John Schnapp

Longtime Beacon Hill Resident

John Schnapp, a longtime resident of Beacon Hill and Acworth, NH, passed away peacefully on Sept. 2 at the age of 91.

Born in the South Bronx to first generation immigrant parents who had never been east of Rockaway, north of the Catskills, south of Washington or west of Cleveland, he significantly expanded those boundaries in a career that took him to 20 countries on four continents.

John was the first member of his family ever to graduate high school and also attained an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh, a masters in economics from the University of Rochester and attended the Harvard University Advanced Management Program. He also served as a Marine Corps tank platoon commander in Quantico, Virginia.

Two great enthusiasms marked his high school and university careers: a passion for track and field, and a passion for editorial writing and reporting. In the first case, he was a self-described “dedicated but untalented track athlete” winning only one hurdles race (against Slippery Rock State Teachers College) during five years of active participation in competitions; in the second, he went from contributing to and editing University of Pittsburgh student publications to, later in life, writing for some of nation’s leading newspapers (see below).

John’s professional career included 13 years at Eastman Kodak, six spent at Kodak’s Rochester headquarters and seven at its Mexico City subsidiary working in advertising. Perhaps the highlight of his early Kodak years was his central involvement in the writing and production of several of the 1960’s editions of How to Make Good Pictures: perhaps the best-selling how-to book in the history of photography. The editions in question include many photo sequences of family life shot by John himself.

After leaving Kodak, John served as a partner at management consulting firms: Harbridge House and Temple Barker & Sloane (later acquired by Mercer Management Consulting) where he specialized in the automobile sector. There he proved instrumental in bringing Hyundai Motors to the North American market and in planning for the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant, the first Japanese auto manufacturing facility built in the Southeast. By the end of his career as a management consultant, John’s clients included fully 17 of world’s 20 largest vehicle manufacturers as well as leading parts makers such as Bendix and Federal Mogul.

After retiring, John established himself as a well-respected columnist on auto industry issues, contributing frequently to the editorial pages of the Detroit News and Wall Street Journal. Retirement also allowed him to dive enthusiastically into his role as a grandparent and he took his grandchildren on memorable adventures throughout their early lives. He felt that grandfathering was the best job in creation and his grandchildren were the beneficiaries of that conviction.

A lifelong pet enthusiast, John also played a role in raising many a naughty puppy who gave rise to colorful family memories. His pets especially appreciated his penchant for feeding them waffles, allowing them to lick plates clean as soon as they left the dinner table, and warmly tolerating misbehavior.

John will be greatly missed by his wife, Rebecca Boyter, children Jeffrey, Scott, and Tom Schnapp, daughters in law, Heidi Almy and Maria Gough, grandchildren Ben and Alison Schnapp and Alexander Gough Schnapp and Gianriccardo Poli Schnapp, Gianriccardo’s mother, Anna Poli, great grandchildren Holden and Adelaide Schnapp, first wife Betty Jean Robbins, sister in law, Margo Chipman, brothers-in-law, Hugh Boyter of Tallahassee, Florida, Tom Boyter of Columbus, Georgia, Bryan Hendrix and sister-in-law Lisa Boyter Hendrix of Atlanta, as well as numerous nieces and nephews and their children.

Due to COVID 19, a celebration of John’s life will be held at a later date.

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