George Robert “Bob” Snead passed away July 11, 2020, in Prosper, Texas. Known to many around the world as a modern-day Renaissance Man, he was at once a war hero, an accomplished artist, a stage actor, an entrepreneur, and a noted historian.
Born January 26, 1936, in Charlotte, NC, Snead graduated from West Charlotte High School in 1954. He served more than 30 years in the U.S. Army, entering the service at the age of 19, and retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer Four, in 1982. The highly decorated dual-rated combat aviator served four tours of duty in Vietnam, earning among other commendations, 41 air medals, three Purple Hearts, three Vietnam Crosses of Gallantry with Silver Star, two Bronze Stars with V-Devices, the Combat Infantry Badge, Senior Parachutist's Badge, and the Master Aviator Badge.
Snead and his family relocated to El Paso, Texas, in the late 1970s, with his commission at Fort Bliss to serve in air defense. He gained prominence in his post-military career as a celebrated historian of the Buffalo Soldiers - the all-black 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments of the U.S. Army. Known throughout the El Paso community for his SO-year study and visual retrospective of the once-obscure troops of the 19th century, Snead's research led to the development of his seminal body of work, entitled "100 Years Ago: The Buffalo Soldier Revisited." The 167-piece collection toured the world several times over with several original pieces from the exhibit now hanging in private collections throughout the country and the Texas Governor's Mansion. In 1983, the story of the Buffalo Soldiers brought to the stage with Snead's one-man, one-act play, "Held in Trust: The Life and Times of Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper," the first Black graduate of West Point Military Academy.
Bob’s determination to succeed led him to study at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California, the University of Mainz in Mainz, Germany, under the tutelage of the late O.A Williams of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dr. Wolfgang Braun of West Germany. He also studied under the noted impressionist Salviano Constantin. A self-taught cartoonist and artist, Snead was an impassioned advocate for Texas arts and arts education across the state. He was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush to the Texas Commission on the Arts and as the designated artist on the committee to design the Texas State Quarter. He served as an artist-in-residence for the University of Texas at El Paso African American Studies in 1998.
His credentials are numerous. His paintings hang in the Texas Governor's Mansion as well as around the world. He was appointed Artist-In-Residence for the University of Texas at El Paso African American Studies in 1998. "The Errand of Corporal Ross," painted by Snead was selected as the model for the Buffalo Soldier Memorial erected at Fort Bliss in 1998. Snead is an inductee into both the El Paso International Hall of Fame for Visual arts (1999) and the El Paso Aviation Hall of Fame (2015). He was recognized as the 2016 Trailblazer Award honoree for the National Alumni Association of West Charlotte High School.