Snells Honored With 14th Spirit of Union Award

There’s something about a home that’s been a part of someone for many years.

Burness and John Snell have lived at 629 San Bernardino Trail in the City of Union since 1962. In fact, theirs was the first house built in their neighborhood, located just south of Martindale Road and west of Main Street.

Their lovingly cared for property boasts mature trees, beds of flowers and a plethora of hanging baskets bursting with summer’s colors.

Mr. and Mrs. Snell are the recipients of the City of Union’s 14th Spirit of Union Award.

The front yard beckons neighbors walking by to stop and chat underneath the cooling shade of pear trees which, in the spring, are abundant with white blossoms. Beds of impatiens and begonias in white, red, pink and purple provide a carpet of color. Baskets of cascading flowers repeat the color scheme, accented with licorice plants that “grow fast, get really lush and long, and can withstand the heat,” Mrs. Snell said. She recommends licorice plants as an excellent way to showcase flowers.

The Snells’ red-brick ranch has a front bay window facing the street – the room used to be the garage but was converted into living space years ago. A porch just off this room is set off by white picket-style railing. A similar fencing accent is repeated in the yard.

A bench under a tree and a birdbath near the front porch are repurposed as places for more flowers. Geraniums and day lilies plus moss and tall grasses contribute to the lush environment. The backyard has a huge magnolia tree. “I bought it as a little sapling 46 years ago for 98 cents – it was about as big as your little finger – and it is now an absolute monster in size, and absolutely gorgeous in the spring with blossoms of pink and white.”

When the Snells first moved into the home, “the yard was nothing but mud,” Mrs. Snell said. But over the years they’ve honed their gardening skills and tastes and truly love taking care of their home.

“We like living in Union. It’s quiet, everyone’s really nice. We’ve lived beside the same neighbors for years,” Mrs. Snell said.

Mr. Snell grew up in nearby Vandalia and Mrs. Snell hails from West Virginia. The couple raised a now-adult son here.

Since retiring from Kroger and Dayco, the Snells have more time to garden. Mr. Snell also continues to do part-time work, delivering Dayton Daily News and Englewood Independent newspapers to drop-off points for news carriers.

The Snells like Andy’s Nursery in Troy for plants. “They’re hardier than at some of the ‘big-box stores. They last,” Mrs. Snell said.

The first recipients of the Spirit of Union Award were Jerry and Shirley Hissong in 1997. The second recipients of the award were James and Marilyn Goodman in 1998. In 1999, there were two recipients: the Kessler Family (Debi and Ken), who received the third Spirit award; and the Harper Family (Darla and Scott), who received the fourth award. In 2000, there also were two recipients: Chris and Tim Van Atta received the fifth Spirit award, and Greg McFadden and Rosemary Broderick received the sixth award. Dave and Joy Aran of 106 Deubner Drive received the City of Union’s seventh Spirit of Union Award in 2001. Sarah and Michael Pace of 101 South Old Mill Road received the eighth Spirit award in 2002. Norma and Bob “Tuck” Lodge were the ninth recipients of the City of Union’s Spirit award in 2003. LaVon and James Austin of 432 Applegate Road were the 10th recipients. Steven and Beth Brand and family of 103 Ewing Court in the Union Ridge neighborhood were the 11th recipients. Kathleen and George Diamantides of 389 Rinehart Road were the 12th recipients. The Martha-Jane and Charles Coterel and Catherine Coterel of 119 and 121 Zinfandel Drive were the 13th recipients of the Spirit of Union award.