COLUMBIA — Even into his 80s, Carl Sneed climbed trees to cut off dead limbs and rarely asked for help with jobs around the house, one of his daughters said Saturday. A retired professor of MU’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, he designed airplanes for the Army during World War II.
“He flew airplanes before he could drive,” said Pam Heath, 52, breaking into tears as she stood on the property where her parents’ house once stood, the house she grew up in at 308 McNab Drive.
Mr. Sneed, 87, died Friday, March 14, 2008, in an explosion and fire at his home in the East Campus neighborhood.
Penny Sneed, Heath’s fraternal twin, said her father “liked to do everything himself. He had a wide variety of interests.”
Mr. Sneed was born in Columbia on January 6, 1921. His father was a physician in town, and Mr. Sneed graduated from Hickman High School in the late 1930s, said C.K. Odor, one of the Sneeds’ neighbors who knew him as a child. They were both members of Boy Scout Troop 9 in Columbia in the 1930s.
“He was kind of a quiet, nice boy,” Odor said.
Mr. Sneed graduated from MU in 1942 and started teaching there, focusing on heat transfer and thermodynamics, said John Miles, a professor emeritus in the department who started teaching at MU in 1963 and met Mr. Sneed there.
Miles said Mr. Sneed was a private man, working behind the scenes to keep the department running smoothly.
“He gave most of his attention to the teaching side,” Miles said. “He was quite, I would say, strict. He didn’t spend a lot of time joking with students, but he had their best interest in mind at all times.”
Mr. Sneed married Merna Sneed, and they had three daughters, Linda Sneed of Columbia, Patricia “Penny” Sneed of San Francisco and Pam Heath of Alameda, Calif.
He received another degree from MU in 1956, according to the MU Alumni Association Web site. That year, he and his wife had the house at 308 McNab Drive built. He raised his family and spent the rest of his life there.
“To his credit, he went off to another university when he was not a young man and completed his Ph.D. degree in the mid-’60s or so,” Miles said.
Mr. Sneed was also associate chair in charge of undergraduate studies for his department, Miles said, and retired from the university about 20 years ago.
Mr. Sneed frequently volunteered in the community. In the 1960s, the former Boy Scout served as district chairman in charge of Girl Scout activities in Columbia and Centralia. He and his wife were active members of Friends of the Columbia Public Library. Mr. Sneed also completed the city’s TreeKeepers program in 2003.
His interests outside of engineering included financial investments and sewing, a hobby he shared with his wife, a retired professor of home economics at MU.
“He was a good seamstress — can you believe it?” Miles said. “He was just a very fine gentleman.”
Kaye King, who lives at 305 McNab Drive, said Mr. Sneed often brought her flowers.
“He grew tons of flowers from seed,” she said. “He would start flowers and (plants) under ultraviolet lights in the basement. ... He gave me day lily bulbs.”
King said Mr. Sneed acted younger than he was.
“He climbed his own trees and cut off the dead limbs,” King said of her neighbor. “That was his life.”