Muisc department chair recovers (?)

Jessica Knieff

Ann Marie Snook, chair of Washburn’s music department, was unable to return this fall after having suffered a stroke earlier in the year. The incident initially left the left side of her body mostly paralyzed, and Snook has since been undergoing physical therapy.

Many music students hold Snook close to their hearts as a professional and personal mentor, affectionately nicknaming her “Dr. Mrs.” The weight of her absence has been felt by much of the student body.

Mary Stithem, senior vocal performance major, has been under Snook’s instruction for over seven years.

“She really cares about her students,” Stithem said. “Sometimes she can kind of be intimidating, but when you get to know her she is one of the kindest and most caring people.”

Stithem said that Snook genuinely cares for students and checks in on students regularly.

“To me, she is like a second mother,” Stithem said. “She is the biggest reason why I came to Washburn. She has been my rock throughout my entire student career.”

Snook and Lee, her husband, talked about the support they have received throughout her recovery.

“I’ve had several visitors from the university and from friends,” Snook said. “We’ve had lots of emails, lots of cards and notes and correspondence.”

Phi Mu Alpha, Washburn’s men’s music fraternity, surprised her with a visit and serenaded her to lift her spirits during her recovery. Snook said that she has been visited by members of Washburn’s faculty as well.

“Deans and vice presidents have visited,” Lee said. “But we’ve been here for 27 years, so we know everybody. We knew them before they were deans and vice presidents.”

Snook described the nature of her stroke as a “fist-sized blood clot” on her brain. She has recently made strides in her physical therapy and has begun to regain motor control of her left side. It is at this time still unclear what the timeline of her recovery will be.

Snook said that music has played an immense role in her recovery.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” Snook said. “To be able to capture that again, or least to start to, is very significant.”

Brad Merryman, administrative assistant for the music department, has worked closely with Snook over the years.

“She is a great figurehead,” Merryman said. “She has the interests of the department foremost, and she really cares about the students and the faculty and what is going on in the department.”

Merymann said that Snook is a valuable asset to the department with the amount of knowledge she has accumulated over the years related to her discipline. He said that she makes it a point, too, to get to know each of her students and keep up to date on their lives.

Lee said that he is grateful that the stroke did not affect the sharpness of Snook’s mind.

“She is still the person I have known for forty years,” Lee said. “She never lost her sense of humor and she remembers everything.”


Bri Stewart: 2016 vocal performance graduate

“You can tell she genuinely cares about her students and wants to see them succeed. She has not only helped me grow as a performer, she has also helped me grow both personally and professionally.

She has inspired me and many others to reach their full potential”

Sienna Haynes: junior music performance major

“Dr. Snook is like a guardian angel for the music department. You rarely see her but she always knows who you are and what you specifically need to be successful in the degree program. She is such an amazing and strong person. I have looked at her as a role model ever since I began my studies here at Washburn.”

Josey Trimble, senior music education major.

“Dr. Snook is a guiding light to many of her students. She not only supports them with school, but with their personal lives as well. Her wisdom and passion for music help her influence students in a unique way.”

Kyam McCormack: senior music performance and education major

“Dr. Snook has been a symbol of strength, professionalism, and quiet sarcasm for me. The first time I met her, I was terrified and afraid of approaching her. I come to find out that even though she is intimidating, she is one of the funniest people on the planet along with her husband. Through the years she has shown nothing but a steel-like intensive focus completing her job at the highest level. I believe her tragic circumstance has become yet another opportunity for the students of Washburn University to witness the strength and determination exemplified in Ann Marie Snook. I hope her recovery is swift and promising.”

Jesse Bigelow: junior vocal performance major

“One of my favorite interactions with Dr. Ann Marie was freshman year. She was staging an opera scene duet with myself and a fellow vocalist and I had no idea what I was doing, but her instruction made everything make sense. In performance class I’ve always looked forward to her feedback, because she always sees right through the performance and gives insight to the problem with which I’m dealing. Whether it’s a technique problem or a something with my diction, she always has a straightforward insight. She’s like that, straightforward and caring about the growth and success of students in the department. She and Dr. Lee, they always help me make singing connections in the area and let me know about performance opportunities. I’d say that Dr. Ann Marie has had a pretty important impact on who I am both as a performer and a person; she’s always been an example of strength and poise to me.”