Readers: Amazingly, it’s been 35 years since George Snow disappeared somewhere over the Bahamas. In the decades since, his sons have raised millions through a scholarship fund. The fund held its Boca Ballroom Battle in August and a golf tournament Oct. 23. Its main event, its Cowboy Ball, is scheduled for January. Here’s more, some of it from a 2002 column:
Friends and relatives created the George Snow Scholarship Fund in 1980 to honor the developer and philanthropist. So far, it has handed out about $7.3 million, and it also helps administer scholarship programs for other agencies.
Snow is almost as famous for his mysterious disappearance decades ago as he is for his accomplishments and his charity.
When Snow moved from Pennsylvania in 1958, Boca Raton was still a small town of less than 10,000. As it exploded with the arrival of Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Community Hospital and IBM, Snow built more than 2,000 homes and numerous commercial projects, including Royal Palm Plaza, downtown’s shopping jewel in the years before Mizner Park.
In the early 1970s, Delray Beach students at Boca High couldn’t participate in after-school activities because they had to catch a bus. Snow lobbied school board members for an extra bus. When they refused, he bought one and drove it himself.
In the late 1970s, Snow went into semi-retirement. He donated the land for the Meadows Park Community Pool and for the park near Florida Atlantic University that would later bear his name.
And he founded Helicopter Aviation at Boca Raton Airport. His main clients were television news crews.
On Nov. 13, 1980, a crew he was piloting videotaped Bahamian policemen savagely beating Haitian refugees on a small island who were refusing to return home. On the way back, the chopper disappeared. Snow was 45. A piece of the helicopter later was found on Grand Bahama Island.
Embarrassed Bahamians trying to stop the pictures? Friendly fire by CIA operatives? Simple mechanical failure? The theories abound. The mystery endures.
“The uncertainty is the hard part, I think,” son Tim Snow said in September.
Tim, who now heads the scholarship fund, was 24 when his father vanished. He believes the helicopter stumbled upon some drug smugglers. But he said, “anybody that says they are certain of what happened is naive. We don’t know what happened.”
George Snow Scholarship Fund: www.scholarship.org. Call 561-347-6799.