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In Memory of Bitsy Snively

Bitsy Snively and Valerie Smith

President Valerie Smith and Bitsy Snively at the 2016 Winter Gathering.

Earlier today President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the Swarthmore College community:


Our community lost a beloved and loyal staff member when Bitsy Snively, a longtime member of the Dining Services staff, died peacefully in her home on Friday, Jan. 20. She was 47.

Bitsy joined the Dining Services staff in 1991. Her colleagues remember her as an inspiring and dedicated staff member with whom they were proud to work.

“From the moment I met her, I knew she was special,” says Director of Dining Services Linda McDougall. “Her warm smile, robust laughter, and ability to be positive made me want to be a better person. Her presence every morning is greatly missed and Sharples seems different without her here.”

“Bitsy had a way of making me be present in the moment, leaving the challenges of the day behind,” says Front of House Manager Therese Hopson. “Her laugh was contagious, and she could be silly and serious in the same sentence.”

Bitsy began her career as a line server and later assisted the baker for many years. She most recently worked with the utility crew, where the breakfast shift could have her sorting up to 900 pieces of silverware each morning.  

Bitsy, who grew up in Swarthmore, proved her dedication by walking to work each day and, remarkably, maintaining perfect attendance for the past 19 years.

In addition to her campus life, Bitsy could often be seen in the Ville walking her dog or knitting at Finely a Knitting Party. She was an avid reader and decorated her apartment with pottery she made at a weekly class. She was also active in the Rotary Club of Swarthmore.

Last month, the College celebrated Bitsy’s 25 years of service as part of its annual Winter Gathering, where she was applauded by several hundred people in a packed Lang Concert Hall.

With Bitsy standing by her side, Therese described for the crowd how Bitsy would often call home from the office for a ride. “Once, as she sat down to pick up the phone,” Therese said, to an enthusiastic response, “I heard her say softly, ‘One day, I’m going to run this place.’”

Bitsy is survived by her parents Gladys and Jim Snively, sister Florence, nieces, Meg and Jenny, and nephew Will.

A memorial service will be held Sat., Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. at the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. Details about a campus tree planting in her honor will be shared later this spring.


Valerie Smith

In lieu of flowers, Bitsy's parents request that contributions be made in her memory to the Children's Hospital Foundation, PO Box 781352, Phila., Pa., 19178, or to Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, 727 Harvard Avenue, Swarthmore, Pa., 19081. 

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