Obituary of Elizabeth Snell
Elizabeth Louise Snell was born August 14, 1944 in Toronto. As the only child of Verna and Dick Boyd, Elizabeth was cherished by her parents. They maintained a very strong bond until their deaths, 6 hours apart from natural causes, in May 1988. Elizabeth was devastated by the loss.
Elizabeth grew up surrounded by the warmth and affection of a large and close extended family. As a child, a highlight of her week was Sunday dinners at her maternal grandparents’ farm in Mimico. Throughout her life, Elizabeth enjoyed her role as the eldest cousin in this family. Although her father’s family was smaller, they were also very close. Elizabeth’s paternal grandmother (Nana) moved in with Elizabeth and her parents when Nana’s mobility became an issue. As a former nurse, Verna was a natural care-giver and instilled in Elizabeth, the importance of close family support.
In addition to tight family bonds, Elizabeth was a loyal and caring friend. Remarkably, she was still in touch with her oldest friend who she met at four years of age. Elizabeth had many other life-long friendships she treasured, including one she fostered in grade 2. No mention of Elizabeth’s friendships would be complete without the members of the high school “Group of Seven”. These friends continue to get together regularly. Once a year, members of the group bring together spouses, children and more recently grandchildren. The latest party was held at Elizabeth and Bruce’s home in December, 2016.
Elizabeth’s most important relationship began on December 29, 1963, when Elizabeth met Bruce Snell at a Christmastime open house hosted by his parents. Bruce had been assigned the important task of taking guests coats but spent most of his time watching the NFL Championship game (before the Super Bowl era) being played that afternoon. It was a fateful encounter as Elizabeth and Bruce would marry nearly 4 years later on October 14, 1967 at St. Columba Church. Elizabeth and Bruce are the proud parents of two children, Stephen B. Snell and Cynthia Snell Smith and two grandchildren, Sienna Smith and Cameron Smith.
Elizabeth was an accomplished woman. She graduated from East York Collegiate in 1963 and entered the Food Science Program at the University of Toronto, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1967. Elizabeth went on to complete her dietetic internship at Toronto Western Hospital and became a Registered Dietitian.
Elizabeth started her career at the Donwood Institute, as the Director of Dietetics from January 1968 until July 1972. She helped patients with their eating patterns as they recovered from substance abuse. She resigned this position in July 1972 to focus on her growing family. Stephen was born the following month and Cynthia was born in September 1975. For 7 years, she devoted herself exclusively to her role within the family. Elizabeth was a loving, encouraging and supportive mother.
In June 1979, Elizabeth began her career as a Registered Dietitian in private practice. Her career would span over 30 years, providing one on one nutrition counseling services on a vast range of issues reaching far beyond weight management. For the first 10 years of her practice, Elizabeth was associated with the Fitness Institute’s 3 locations as the Director of Dietetics. In March 1989, Elizabeth bravely opened her own nutrition counselling practice on Sheppard Avenue East, outside the protective umbrella of the Fitness Institute. In 1997, she expanded to a larger office at 1100 Sheppard Avenue East where she remained until her retirement on October 31, 2011.
During this time Elizabeth individually counseled over 10,000 patients; typically seeing 70 patients per week. She thrived in her busy, fast-paced practice and enjoyed the social connection this role naturally provided while impacting so many lives in profound ways.
The significance of Elizabeth’s dietetic work can be seen in the various expert roles she was invited to hold, in addition to her full-time practice. Elizabeth became the professional spokesperson for NutraSweet in 1981. To prepare for this opportunity, she took extensive media training in the US with the same company that helped Ronald Reagan. Elizabeth conducted television, radio and newsprint interviews in over 15 cities from coast to coast as well as at trade shows throughout North America.
Elizabeth was also the professional spokesperson for Tums, in its capacity as a calcium supplement. This involved media interviews in 22 cities across Canada in 1986 and again in Western Canada and Ontario in 1988.
Another highlight of Elizabeth’s career was her role as Nutrition consultant at the National Ballet School of Canada, providing classes in nutrition for students in the 1990s and 2000s. She worked with hundreds of aspiring ballerinas and became a mentor to a few who followed in Elizabeth’s footsteps and built careers in dietetics. As an outgrowth of her work with the National Ballet School, Elizabeth authored professional papers on how nutrition affects dancers that were published in medical journals. Elizabeth was invited to present these papers at a number of international conferences for the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.
Elizabeth was a devoted Anglican throughout her life. She grew up attending St. Columba Church where she attended Sunday school and later went on to teach it. Elizabeth and Bruce began attending the Church of the Ascension after they married and subsequently moved to St. John’s York Mills in 1980, where they have remained. Elizabeth was an active parishioner at St. John’s, teaching Sunday school with Bruce when their children were young. As a member of the Lychgate Group at the Church, Elizabeth helped manage many of the group’s charitable activities. Elizabeth was never afraid to roll up her sleeves to get the job done.
In the final years of Elizabeth’s life, she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in a sudden and steep decline in all aspects of her cognitive ability. It was hard for Elizabeth’s family and friends to reconcile the change from the vibrant, caring and thoughtful woman she had always been. The one thing that comforted them during this difficult time was that Elizabeth’s radiant smile never left her. In the final 8 months of Elizabeth’s life she resided at Harmony Hills, where she died suddenly but peacefully in her sleep on September 29, 2017. There were no signs of problems when Bruce left her at bedtime the night before, after spending the full day with her as he had done every day since she was first admitted to the facility.
Elizabeth died exactly 645 months after meeting Bruce, also on the 29th day of the month, but only 15 days shy of celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on October 14, 2017. Elizabeth will be sorely missed by her beloved husband, Bruce, family and many life-long friends.
Visitation will be held at Humphrey Funeral Home, 1403 Bayview Avenue, on Wednesday, October 4 from 2-4 PM and 6-8 PM and Thursday, October 5 from 6-8 PM. The funeral service will be at St. John’s York Mills Church on Friday, October 6, 2017 at 11 AM with a reception afterward at the Church.