In memory: Brian A. Snow

Brian A. Snow, General Counsel Emeritus of the Colorado State University System and former member of the CSU System’s Board of Governors, died peacefully after a long illness on August 29, 2020, in the arms of his beloved wife, Crissie. He was 79.

Former Senator and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar paid tribute to his long-time friend Snow this week: “I knew Brian Snow for almost 30 years, as a devoted husband and exemplary family man. I remember him so well in the 1990s sharing with me his thoughts on national politics and his world of experience. I remember him encouraging me to run for Colorado Attorney General and the United States Senate. But most of all, I remember his unequivocal love for his nation and humanity, and his unwavering view that we were on a march toward a more perfect union. I talked to him a few weeks before he passed. Brian was still as sharp as ever, troubled by the crises our nation faces, and resolute in that we would find a better way forward. We will carry on his legacy in our words and deeds.”

Brian A. Snow portrait
Brian A. Snow

Brian Armil Snow was born on February 5, 1941, in Jasper, Arkansas, the son of Mayme Cordelia House Snow and Claude E. Snow. The son of a college professor, he spent a lifetime advocating for education and social justice in both his personal and professional work.

At the University of Arkansas, Brian earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration, with a minor in journalism, as well as a master’s in political science. As a student journalist, his editorials in support of civil rights landed him on the Arkansas Governor’s “Enemies List.” He went on to graduate from the Duke University School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Duke Law Journal. He later took courses toward an additional master’s in religion at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver.

After graduation from college, he worked as a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal before entering law school. He later served as Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law and engaged in the private practice of law in Denver for a number of years. He married Eugenie “Crissie” (Sontag) Snow in Denver on May 10, 1986, beginning a remarkable 34-year partnership marked by love, devotion, and mutual respect.

Brian was appointed by Colorado Governor Roy Romer to serve as a voting member of the Board of Governors of the CSU System in 1987 — a role he resigned a year later to accept the position of General Counsel for the Board and System. He served from 1988 to 2003 as the chief counsel for the governing board and its constituent institutions — at the time Colorado State University, Fort Lewis College, and Colorado State University Pueblo — supervising all attorneys and support staff for the System.

Snow was a trusted adviser to President and Chancellor Emeritus Albert C. Yates throughout Yates’ 13-year tenure leading CSU. “Brian was a dear friend and colleague, ever true and honest, who believed in the innate goodness of people. He lived the life of the mind, at home with ideas and novelty,” Yates said.

As he helped the University navigate complex issues around athletics and Title IX, including a high-profile lawsuit by members of the women’s softball team, Snow became a champion for equity in women’s athletics and a recognized expert on Title IX and higher education. His lifelong commitment to social justice informed both the value he placed on higher education and academic culture and his many years of political involvement, which included helping to lead Robert F. Kennedy’s Colorado presidential campaign in 1968.

Longtime friend and colleague Bill Thro remembered Brian as a mentor and inspiration. “Diagnosed with MS while in his twenties, Brian lived his entire life like he was running out of time,” Thro said. “He had an insatiable intellectual curiosity. He always was reading three or four books, subscribed to five daily newspapers, and took theology classes at a local seminary for fun. He wrote more law review articles than most law professors, and he won Colorado State University’s highest award for teaching.” (Brian received that honor — the Oliver P. Pennock Award — in 1999, recognizing his contributions to the University and as a faculty member in the CSU School of Education.)

Among his numerous professional achievements and awards, Brian was honored to be named a Life Member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. He was a member of the Editorial Board of The Journal of College and University Law and the Authors Committee for the Education Law Reporter. He wrote and published more than a dozen law review articles and was a frequent speaker on various topics involving issues in higher education. His professional activities included serving as vice chair of the American Bar Association’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, as a member of the Securities Committee of the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations and of the American Bar Association, as a member of the screening committee for the selection of the U.S. Attorney for Denver, and as a member of Governor Bill Ritter’s Transition Committee for Higher Education in Colorado.

In addition to his professional service, Mr. Snow was deeply involved in his community, having served as the president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Colorado, president of the Washington Park United Church of Christ, and as a member of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins and the Environmental and Transportation Committee of the Denver Chamber of Commerce. He wrote and acted in a production of his own play, “The Trial of Minnie Wright,” at Bas Bleu Theater Company in Fort Collins.

He is survived by his wife, Eugenie Christine (Crissie) Snow, of Centennial; his sons, Andrew Armil Snow (Manette Anne) and Anthony Jackson Snow (Nancy Lynn); brother S. Steve Snow, M.D., (Martha Hudson); sisters-in-law Lucia Sontag Johnson (Philip R. Johnson) and Anna Marie Sontag, Ph.D.; grandchildren Megan Ashley, Lucia Claire, Matthew Thomas, Catherine Claire, and John Anthony; nieces and nephews James Steven Snow, Thomas Hudson Snow, Michael Wesley Snow, Christian Phelps Johnson, Alice Tyler Johnson McCoombe, Hope Elizabeth Johnson Church, George Luciano Senobio Gonzales, N.D., and Jacob Stanley John Gonzales; aunts Bonnie House Tougaw and Verma Sue Ethridge; cousins Martha Sue Griggs Parks, Susan Diane House, and Carolyn Snow Gilbrech; and friends including members of the Duke Law School Class of 1966, Brooke Marie Solis Daniels, and The Reverend Victor Harmon Nixon. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Private burial is scheduled with memorial services to be held at a later date. Donations may be made to:

Duke University Law School
Alumni and Development Office
210 Science Drive
Box 90389
Durham, NC 27708-0389