Edward Brown ‘Ed’ Snyder, 90, founded Checkered Flag Motor Car Company

Edward Brown 'Ed' Snyder
Edward Brown ‘Ed’ Snyder

Edward Brown “Ed” Snyder of Virginia Beach died Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, having lived a full life of 90 years. He leaves behind his proud legacy of husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

His generous charitable, civic and business contributions significantly improved the quality of life in Hampton Roads, a region he always envisioned as united rather than the sum of political jurisdictions.

He was born in Norfolk in 1928 to Ben Paul and Bertha Goodman Snyder. Ed attended the University of Virginia and New York University until serving his country in the U.S. Air Force. Stationed in London, he met his future bride Jean. After discharge as staff sergeant, Ed and Jean came to the U.S. in 1956 to begin their 61-year marriage. They enjoyed visiting almost 100 countries together. She preceded him in death in 2017.

Ed and Jean’s children are Susan Darnell (granddaughter, Sarah Dodd, and great-grandchild, Riley and granddaughter, Gwen Darnell); Robin Brickell (spouse, Sean, grandson, Alex Snyder, and spouse, Jessica and great-grandchildren Connor and Oliver; granddaughter, Lesley Snyder, and grandson, Quentin); Stephen Snyder (spouse, Russie, and grandsons, Ben and William); Kate King Jones (spouse, Eric, and granddaughter, Cameron King); and Tammy Murphy (spouse, Phil, grandson, Josh, granddaughter, Emma, and grandsons, Charlie and Sam).

The love of retail was learned from Ed’s grandfather and father. In 1894, his grandfather established L. Snyder’s, one of downtown Norfolk’s premier department stores. His father continued the family business, which remained open for 75 years.

The store’s primary principle recognized the customer as the most important aspect of business, and Ed carried this truth into the automotive arena. His professional motto was “Treat your employees right, and they’ll treat your customers right, and then customers will do the same to your company.” Ed’s home number was always listed in the phone book so any customer could call with a question or concern.

Ed and his wife founded Checkered Flag Motor Car Company as a family business in 1964. It is one of the largest import dealers in Virginia, with 11 franchises providing almost 700 professionals full-time employment. More than 10,000 people have been employed since the company began.

Ed proudly upgraded landscaping to beautify his dealerships. His goal was to have more trees at his stores than all other dealerships in Hampton Roads combined. The Virginia Beach Garden Club perennially honors Checkered Flag dealerships for their superb landscaping.

Ed was named First Citizen in Virginia Beach in 1996. He was crowned Virginia Beach King Neptune in 1992.

He served as the first chairman of the DePaul Health Foundation. He was honored with the President’s Award for the United Way. He was a founding member of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum.

Other organizations Ed tirelessly supported are the United Jewish Foundation, Hampton Roads Volunteer Council, Douglas MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Virginia Opera, Martin Luther King Memorial Statue, King Neptune Statue, Old Coast Guard and Lifesaving Station, Chrysler Museum, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, UVA Athletics, Salvation Army and Public Broadcasting of Hampton Roads.

Ed was recruited by the National Association of Automobile Dealers to form the Honda National Dealer Council. He also served on National Dealer Councils for Toyota, Jaguar, BMW, Hyundai, Mini, Isuzu, Suzuki, MG and Austin-Healy. He was president of Tidewater Automobile Dealers Association.

In 1980, Ed was recipient of the Automobile Dealer of Distinction Award presented by Sports Illustrated. He was Time Magazine’s 1999 Quality Auto Dealer of the Year in Virginia and was recognized as second nationally among all 50 state representatives that year.

Ed’s dream and personal mission for Hampton Roads was laying solid foundations to unify the cities and counties into a single, globally recognized region. He understood and promoted the collective benefits that our citizens, business and government will achieve through mutually advantageous coordination and consolidation.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23, at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts., Laskin Road Chapel. Ed’s funeral celebration will honor his life at noon, Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Ohef Sholom Temple, 530 Raleigh Ave, Norfolk, where he was a lifelong member and supporter.

The family thanks Adrienne “A.J.” Johnson, Melvin “Buddy” Forehand and Maricris Angeles, who were Ed’s kind and dedicated caregivers the past several months.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ed Snyder’s name will be received by Virginia Aquarium and the Hampton Roads Cancer Society.

Share online condolences with the family at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments.

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