View of the Mary's Woods from the Willamette River in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

gold medallion legacy donors

Ned and Carolyn Snow

Provincial House Residents

Mary's Woods Residents and Donors Ned and Carolyn Snow.“I just feel it’s a wonderful life,” Carolyn Snow says, her voice accenting the factual statement about living at Mary’s Woods.

It’s been a wonderful life she’s led with her husband, Ned, and the two groups of adult children they brought together after meeting in church. They did, really, meet in church, although no one believed Ned when he made his factual statement 30 years ago.

Regardless of where they met – and believe it, the cradle-to-grave Lutherans were in church – both agreed without hesitation that planning for their retirement years was a gift they were going to give to their children.

Recalling a difficult experience dealing with an aging parent who was alone and far away geographically, Carolyn said neither she nor Ned wanted to do that to their children.

“Nor to ourselves,” she says, that let’s-be-honest look lighting her eyes.

Born in Flint, Michigan, Carolyn’s desire to further her education took her to Rock Island, Illinois and Augustana College where she studied history.  Married and eager to explore, Carolyn and her husband moved first to Calgary, Alberta and then on to Vancouver, B.C., where Carolyn worked part-time as a teacher while raising three children.  In time, persistent Oregonian friends convinced them to move to Portland, which they did in 1968.

Carolyn continued her work as an educator at Roosevelt High School and after a scant three years was approached to become a school counselor.  Studies and certification ensued and three years later – after attending a leadership training program – Carolyn was approached again and asked about her interest in becoming a vice principal in the Hillsboro School District.

With that accomplished – and armed with a growing file of certifications and obvious knack as an educator — Carolyn moved on to become a junior high principal and finished her career as a vice principal at Glencoe High School.

“At the time I grew up — I graduated high school in 1953 — women had two career choices: nurse or teacher. I thought afterwards: If I’d had an opportunity to do anything, maybe I’d have been a lawyer,” she says, recalling her path. “But I’m not so sure. What I really wanted to do was in education, so I’m grateful for that.”

Carolyn, a member of the board of directors for Mary’s Woods, starts every day (except during COVID) with water aerobics, plays water volleyball and practices yoga. But she’s not just about keeping herself fit. Carolyn’s interests clearly reach into the community of Mary’s Woods. When she noticed a need for an ecumenical service for those without a home Church in the area – or are unable to get to one – she helped organize the weekly 4 p.m. ecumenical service in the chapel that now draws about 30 congregants weekly. She also serves as a musician, providing organ music at 4 p.m. on Sunday on TV, even during the Coronavirus shut down.

“I consider my Sunday work a type of philanthropy,” Carolyn says. “I do it not completely unselfishly because Ned and I want this for ourselves too. There will come a time when I can’t be actively involved working on it and I’ll be so glad it is there,” she adds, her honesty worn like a well-earned badge. “It means a lot to me that I am able to do it.”

Carolyn – a member of the Philanthropy and Community Life program under Colette Rees — and Ned make philanthropy a part of their everyday life giving to Mary’s Woods’ Resident Fund and the Education Fund. It’s not a surprise that the former teacher feels very strongly about assisting people in furthering their education.  She says she sees the need and it means a lot to her to be able to give.

“When you think philanthropy, you realize it is more than just giving money. It’s one way you’re participating in the group support of other residents, and education or special projects.”

Although not totally sure what drives her generosity, Carolyn shrugs her shoulders and says it just seems the thing to do, adding that charitable giving has always been a big part of their lives. “I guess we have always felt an obligation and still have a number of things we support.”

Not only are the Snows financially charitable, they filled years of their life with volunteer work. For 14 years, she and Ned volunteered for Medical Teams International, where Ned, who supervised Hyster factories the world over, operated a lift truck.

“He could take (a lift truck) apart and tell you what each part cost,” Carolyn says with a laugh, but he’d never really operated one until he started his volunteer work, and he had to get a special license to do so.

You just never know what philanthropy will bring in return.

Although Carolyn and Ned’s children had spread out across the globe, all six have settled in the Portland area with their spouses and children. Carolyn says she and Ned encourage their grandchildren to reach their highest goals – just as she and Ned have – and help, she says with that ever-present twinkle in her eye, with some “tuition infusion” here and there.

Carolyn and Ned have planned all aspects of their life – including making a planned gift to Mary’s Woods; the Resident Fund is a beneficiary of Carolyn’s IRA.

“I truly believe,” she says of their nearly ten years at Mary’s Woods, “it has been a good move.”


Legacy giving is a great way to create a lasting impact in the causes you care the most about.