New Castle News

February 25, 2014

Pulaski tax collector ends 40-year career

Mary Grzebieniak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — She’ll really miss the people but after 40 years as Pulaski Township’s tax collector, Shirley Snyder said it’s time to retire.

“I wished I would have kept a journal,” the 76-year-old said, recalling that the best part of the job has been getting to know the people of the township.

“After 40 years, everyone is like family,” she said adding she has collected taxes from four generations of many families.

One year, the school district paid her to do a census of district residents and this allowed her to get to know some of them close up.

Though she kept official hours at the Pulaski Township building, she said, people often would call and stop at her home with their taxes.

The job also allowed her to get to know the Amish people in the township. If there was a problem or incorrect amount on their taxes, because the Amish don’t use telephones, “I had to go see them.” She said this led to friendships and she fondly recalled one Amish friend who would make cinnamon rolls when she visited.

The worst part of the job, Snyder said, was the growing computerization of everything, which she never quite trusted. She said she doesn’t do Facebook or email and doesn’t intend to start.

She recounted that even in recent years, when she had to record tax payments on a computer, she never quite trusted the machine. She was always afraid she would push the wrong button and lose important information.

So she always backed up the figures the old-fashioned way, on paper.

“I don’t want a computer,” she said. “Before I’d buy a computer, I’d buy a sewing machine. I know how to operate that.”

She was first elected to the job in 1974, when all the records were kept by hand for property taxes paid to Pulaski Township and the Wilmington school district. The part-time job varied in the hours and days over the years, but she did a lot of work at home, too, especially at the beginning.

When she started, she was a single mother of two boys, Robert and Greg Rudzik, now 54 and 51. She said she liked the tax collector job because it allowed her to be home most of the time with her children. Later, she married Glenn Snyder, a cement plant owner who died eight years ago.

Snyder has no fear that she will be bored in her retirement. If she is not making more prize-winning quilts or cross-stitched works of art to win her more county fair blue ribbons, she will be sewing or making braided rugs.

Sewing has been a long-time hobby and she used to make drapes and other home furnishings for a local interior designer. Her home is furnished with some of her colorful braided rugs and her handmade comforters cover the beds of several family members.

Then there is her long-time card club, to which she has belonged to for “50 or 60 years” and also the New Bedford Presbyterian Church, where she is an active member and makes aprons for an annual festival and lap robes for sick people and veterans.

To mix things up a little, Snyder goes annually with a group of friends to upper Michigan, where she visits a casino and sightsees.

Snyder is also a NASCAR fan and follows the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just recently, in a conversation with a family member, Snyder found out that tax collecting is sort of a tradition in her family.

“My grandfather was a tax collector in Indiana County.”

Snyder was born in Clymer, in Indiana County, and moved to Coitsville, Ohio, in 1952 with her father and stepmother, Millie and Horace Smail. She moved to the Pulaski area when she got married.

Snyder is being succeeded by Brad Marshall, who was elected in November.

(Email: grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)