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GOP Activist and His Beloved Wife Found Dead

GOP stalwart Charles Snelling and his wife were found dead Thursday in their Fogelsville home

Prominent GOP activist and businessman Charles Snelling and his wife, Adrienne, were found dead in their Fogelsville home on Thursday morning in what family members say was a murder-suicide.

Both were 81.

Adrienne suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

In a statement family members released to local media, they said Mr. Snelling "could no longer bear to see the love of his life deteriorate further," choosing to end her life and then his own.

Timothy Hennessey, aide to state Sen. Bob Mensch, called Charles Snelling  "a visionary, an entrepreneur and a friend to us all."

"Their legacy will endure through their generous commitment to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest College, and many other organizations. My thoughts and prayers are with the Snelling family and all those who know Charlie and Adrienne," he told Patch.

Police and the Lehigh County coroner's office have so far declined to identify the victims pending notification of next of kin. The bodies were found around 9 a.m.

Snelling took part in the "Life Report" project of New York Times writer David Brooks. A Dec. 7, 2011 entry titled "A Love Story and Redemption," told how the Snellings came to terms with Adrienne's Alzheimer's diagnosis six years ago.

Their romance of more than 60 years began when Charles was a sophomore at and Adrienne was a student at Cedar Crest College. Snelling graduated from Lehigh in 1954.

The Times article quoted Charles as saying, "Although (Adrienne) is a very, very sick puppy, she remains to this day a sweet, happy, loving and generous person. How lucky for both of us. To have such an affliction in the household is a very learning experience... After all, this lady rescued me from a fate worse than death, and for a long, long time. What I am doing for her pales beside all that she has done for me for more than half a century."

The Snellings are survived by five children and 11 grandchildren.

Charles Snelling was chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority since 2003. President George W. Bush nominated him to serve on the authority board of directors.

Snelling founded a company called Cryotherm and held 20 patents.

He served four years as president of Allentown City Council.

BytraWatches March 30, 2012 at 11:03 AM
For those convicting Charles of murder, you obviously have never watch a relative die from Alzheimer's. My mother is in stage two and I understand what her future holds and when the person I love will become nothing more than a shell of flesh and bone with all the memories erased. Think of Alzheimer's as a baby growing in reverse. Babies learn things everyday and develope into human beings. Alzheimer's is just the opposite, the patient forgets more everyday as the person deteriorates and disease destroys more of the brain. Euthanasia is the debate here, one long overdue for our country. We believe in it for our pets, we go so far to think that people are creul if they don't relieve their pets of their suffering and yet we are so offended to consider it for our loved ones whoe are suffering or in this case done with life.
Pamela Porter March 30, 2012 at 11:08 AM
There but for the grace of God go I. Monday-morning quarterbacking is fine for politics and actual sports, but not in situations like this. I cannot imagine the anguish, and I hope none of us ever have to face it. At one time, I had a pretty, princessy life. It was turned upside down in the space of literally 1 day and it hasn't (nor will it ever be) the same again. I experienced things I never thought I would and I had to make decisions I never thought I'd have to make. I know better now than to say I'd know exactly how I'd act given a certain situation, because I know much, much better now. And frank donchez, this has fark-all to do with being a Republican or a Democrat or a flying purple people eater.
Arthur Joel Katz March 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Charles Snelling and I had a long, but private, correspondence on issues of our day. Despite our frequent disagreements I found him to be both polite and kind. Despite his 'secular humanism' he could hardly have had better man or husband. Rather than carp at what he did, one should bemoan the pain he (and his wife) suffered. He lived a long and very useful life, and anyone who has not seen a beloved spouse suffer as Charles did, should not judge him.
Ronnie DelBacco March 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I am a GOP conservative and I agree with Jaded1. Murder is wrong regardless of who one is or what they did in the community. I shutter to think of the leniency he may have been afforded by fellow conservatives had he not also killed himself. There are no winners here. When one no longer respect the sanctity of human life it does not give license to take the life of another. God have mercy on his soul is all we can say now.
Ronnie DelBacco March 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM
We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet. The sad thing is that some don't seem to have picked up on any of its lessons. My grandmother is slowly deteriorating from similar ailments. We hate to see it happening right before our eyes, but none of us have suggested killing her.
Gina Dawn March 30, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Absolutely, Daryl. Noone can fully understand another person. Human judgements are worth very little.
Walt March 30, 2012 at 01:09 PM
People passing judgement on this man and bringing politics into this discussion should be deeply ashamed of themselves.
Doug Shulley March 30, 2012 at 02:03 PM
fact: He murdered a defenseless woman and then cowardly committed his own suicide. Murder is still a felony crime and he should not be exonerated in death
Pat Jamann March 30, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Daryl, Last I checked "murder-suicide" is still called "murder-suicide." No judgement, just a legal fact. Being wealth, well-known in the community, Republican, doesn't change anything. If he were poor, unknown, and Democratic the law would still stand. My prayers go out to his family.
Fred March 30, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Why didn't Snelling just shoot his wife, then stay alive to suffer the punishment? We have laws in place, and have no right to make our own in cases of a devastating illness; "let no man judge" (who hasn't been there) - is a poor excuse! I hope my partner of 55 plus years won't take such a euthanasia approach should I devastate him with my illness.
Ronald Lewis March 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I agree with Daryl
Doug Shulley March 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM
murder is defined by statute and can be charged by law enforcement, innocence or guilty is determined by jury/judge. Snelling killed his wife, that is murder, if he didnt take the coward way out he would be in lehigh county prison right now
Concerned March 30, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Judge not lest ye be judged comes to mind here.
J. Drew Stefancin March 30, 2012 at 07:15 PM
A lot of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves with these comments. If you don't have anything nice to say - don't say anything at all (unless its about poetry readings). Calling someone names after something like this is awful behavior.
Adam Evans March 30, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Good for him. I'd do the same. (although this is also interesting for the hypocrisy--GOP activist who presumably was against abortion and possibly even contraception murders wife)
Jaded1 March 30, 2012 at 09:36 PM
People that commit murder-suicide all think they have a good reason. I don't understand why his is any better. He was showing compassion for his wife by murdering her? How do we know she was not perfectly content in her ways? Do you really think she wanted to be shot to death because he "loved" her? She had dementia...she wasn't unconscious. Guaranteed she knew when a gun was pointed at her head that she was about to die....for love.
Jaded1 March 30, 2012 at 09:42 PM
This is incredibly difficult for me to comprehend that people think this is actually acceptable behavior. I cannot get beyong the facts here, despite what my heart may say.
Tom Coombe (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 09:47 PM
In a recent op-ed for the Morning Call, Snelling wrote that he and his wife had been among the co-founders of the local Planned Parenthood, which would suggest he didn't hold anti-abortion views.
Jaded1 March 30, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Good for him? Really? Did he win an award or something?
Susan Koomar March 30, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Jaded1, the coroner's findings released today said the Mr Snelling shot himself but his wife's cause of death is still under investigation.
Jaded1 March 30, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Ok...well the police are calling it a murder-suicide. What does that lead you to believe?
another point of view March 31, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I think that all of you who have written need to look at this incident from another point of view. Suppose that you were a close friend of Mr. Snelling, and he called you the night before he intended to commit these acts. In his conversation he disclosed to you, a friend, what he was planning to do. How would you react? Would you agree? Would you understand and just say good-bye? Would you tell him to stop? Would you call the police? Would you do nothing or would you do something? Remember as you answer these personal questions that you are a close personal friend. You would not want to see your friend or his wife die, and you would not want to see your friend imprisoned. What would you do? I am not a person who pretends to understand these things. There never is any right to any of this. When I was young I was taught that there were somethings that were forever right and others that were forever wrong. This act was a forever wrong. I cannot excuse it and would always act to prevent it. The tragedy of all this is not the fact that a married couple died. So did two parents and two people who were friends and supporters to many. Maybe that is the biggest wrong of this entire matter, a failure to see beyond one problem and to see your personal value to everyone. God does not consult with me in these matters. I have no expectation that he would, but, sometimes, it would be helpful if he could.
Jim Wetherhold March 31, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Exactly Mr. Black, Exactly! My mother had Alzheimer's for about five years til her death. My dad and mom were married 70 years. She died at 91, dad died one year latter with a broken heart. Even though Mom had no memory she was stilla sweet person, and even more so while she suffered with Alzheimer's. Charles had the problem, not his wife.
Jaded1 March 31, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Very thoughtful post.
Jan McNair April 01, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I don’t usually comment on a news story, but after reading the opinions here, I feel moved to do so. I have walked through the agony of Alzheimer’s disease with my father (the victim) and my mother (the victim’s spouse). I can attest to the mind-robbing cruelty of this disease and the devastating effects it has on both the victims and the family of the stricken. My mother (in her 80s) cared for my father in their home up until the final three months of his life, when it became necessary to place him in a care facility. My father had became a danger to both my mother and himself. The institutionalization of our loved one had heart-wrenching emotional effects on both my mother and me, as my dad had been a loving, good, and kind husband and father all his life. He was 86 when he died and had celebrated 64 years of happy marriage with my mother. Neither she nor I would have ever taken his life and called it an “an act of mercy.” We are Christians who believe that only God has the right to decide when it is our time to die. Finally (whether you are a Christian or non-Christian), which doctor or family member has the knowledge and moral right to determine when a person is old enough or sick enough to be killed? Why not mercifully kill a person who has Stage 3 cancer? Or who can no longer walk or eat whole foods? How about a person who is blind or one who is a quadriplegic? Who will be that human judge? Who will judge when you are sick enough to warrant being killed?
Amanda Huggenkiss April 01, 2012 at 10:01 PM
executing a spouse is murder, a crime and a moral sin
Fred April 02, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Very well said, Jan.
Lorie April 19, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I could only hope that my husband would love me and our family enough to "murder me" if I became that much of an mental, emotional, and physical burden on my family.
Fred April 20, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Lorie, well then let's all "love" the members of our families who may be physically handicapped and need total assistance from others, who have Down's Syndrome and need constant supervision, who are literally tortured by severe mental illness, and on and on. Let's show this love to the suffering veterans from severe trauma from all our crazy wars...... Euthanize all the burdens we, the people, can't cope with. Life always has burdens, and there is always help out there. I do not call that action - to murder through euthanizing - to be love even in the narrowest or broadest definition of the word!
Jaded1 April 20, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Ok Lorie.... be careful what you wish for, it just may come true.

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