Tom Snelson, member of the Anaheim, California Savanna High School Class of 1964 – a friend, a son, a brother, a superb musician, and a great American patriot, has died after a long battle with cancer.
I first became aware of Tom’s great musical talent in 1961. I was an 8th grader. He was on the stage at Fremont Jr. High School in Anaheim, California. Even as a 9th grader his playing stood out among the other members of the Trident Jr. High School Concert Band. My friends in the audience and I didn’t know his name, but we quickly recognized that Tom Snelson was something special.
I had the good fortune to perform for two years with Tom in the Savanna High School Band in Anaheim, California.
From 1965 through 1967 we sat next to each other in what is now the University of Northern Colorado Symphonic Band. Tom was the lead trumpet player and I was first chair trombone. We toured the middle western states and performed more concerts than I can recall. Tom was a featured soloist during our tours. He was a virtuoso the likes of which I have heard only once or twice in my lifetime. I never heard him miss a note.
Following his graduation from UNC Tom served in the United States Army. He performed and toured with the Glenn Miller Band and was featured on two Platinum Christmas albums which the Miller Band recorded. For years he played lead trumpet in Las Vegas hotel shows, accompanying many world-famous artists and performers. He gave trumpet lessons to countless Las Vegas high school students.
We kept in touch over the years, especially after he became ill. His doctors were amazed that he lived as long as he did. Tom was a fighter and a brave man.