A Georgetown resident and former U.S. foreign service officer who twice interviewed the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy has died.
Richard Edward Snyder spent 20 years working in the foreign service for the U.S. State Department. He died Jan. 9 in Georgetown, where he had moved about seven years ago in order to be near his grandchildren. He was 92.
A native of New Jersey, Mr. Snyder grew up poor but took advantage of every opportunity to improve himself, family members said.
He served as a medic in the U.S. 7th Army in Europe during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star.
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After the war, Mr. Snyder entered Yale University under the GI Bill. He received a master's degree in International Relations, with a focus on Russian Studies, from Harvard in 1956. Mr. Snyder already had joined the Foreign Service in 1950, which gave him opportunities to use his language skills in Russian, Japanese, German and French.
His intelligence duties involved him in several incidents during the Cold War.
Mr. Snyder was serving as second secretary and consul at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in October 1959 when an American named Lee Harvey Oswald walked in and stated that he wanted to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Snyder interviewed Oswald, who then was living in the Soviet Union, on that occasion and again in July 1961 when Oswald came to reclaim his U.S. passport.
Oswald assassinated Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.
Mr. Snyder testified about Oswald's defection before the Warren Commission, formed to investigate the Kennedy assassination.
Mr. Snyder also figured in another significant Cold War event, attending the Moscow trial of American pilot Francis "Gary" Powers, who was shot down over Soviet territory in a U-2 spy plane in 1960. The Soviets' capture of Powers, a native of Jenkins, Ky., was a major international embarrassment for the U.S., which had been conducting spy flights over the Soviet Union in secrecy.
Mr. Snyder's wife of 64 years, Anna Mildred DiMeo, preceded him in death.
Survivors include two daughters; a brother; a brother-in-law; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two nephews and four nieces.
A private memorial service is planned. Donations can be made to Mr. Snyder's favorite charity, the Smile Train, or the University of Kentucky's Body Bequeathal Program.