Phil Parsons ’64,
GETTYSBURG COLLEGE-TKE and friend of SAE
Phil was a great running back for the Bullets in the early 60’s. He played both ways, halfback and DB. I believe he also ran track. Phil was one of the first black students and athletes to attend Gettysburg. He was an all state running back for Washington Twp HS in southern NJ. He was born in Merchantville, NJ and will be laid to rest there on Monday November 2nd. His running mate was Billy Hunter who ended up going to Syracuse and having a very good college career after Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. Billy Hunter is currently the head of the NBA Player’s Assn. Phil Parsons graduated from Gettysburg in 1964 and later received an MBA from Harvard. His business career was spent entirely in Chicago with various companies. Snuffy was a TEKE and also served on the Board of Trustees of the College. He is survived by his daughter, Andrea, (Andi) Parsons.
Memories Shared ….
The last to know, as usual! Dealing with Aggie’s illness, which got more and more demanding last fall, I failed to know or find out about Snuffy’s passing. As a teammate he never ceased to amaze me with his talent as a player and even more importantly as a person. He became a mentor for me in showing me the ropes around the athletic department as I was a transfer and new to the program. We spent many hours discussing a wide variety of subjects, especially, SOUTH JERSEY topics where we both came from before G-burg. To say I was colorblind was not true as I grew up in a segregated town, Pennsville, where the only African-Americans came from an area called Fort Mott, about 5 miles away. When I met Snuffy he changed my whole persona non grata about people of color. He was friendly, smart, and helpful to me and his teammates. Some 30 years later when I saw and talked with him at a reunion of the team of ’64 I noticed some bitterness in the way he had been treated at G-Burg and society in general. He most certainly became an active member of the ‘movement’ that has changed the USA for good. Now that I have this web site I hope to stay better informed and will be showing up for reunion weekend in June. In the Bonds,
— Robert Boyd
I just learned through the College that a great Alum and “social brother” of the SAE fraternity, Phil “Snuffy” Parsons ’64, passed away last week in Chicago after a long illness. We, who played with Snuffy, have lost a great friend and premiere athlete, who in the open field may have been quicker than Snyder or Boyd.
— Patrick F. Noonan
I can attest as one who knew only Snuffy’s warm smile and friendly hello as we passed on campus that he was a stand-up guy, on campus as well as in all the football games I saw him play. I look back to those days in the mid-60’s when color seemed almost transparent, at least in the northeast, and newspaper headlines were far less ugly. Kind of ironic in our “liberal arts” college that Snuffy was one of few minorities attending. Good to see that’s been changing over the years. Snuffy’s Harvard MBA and his service on the Gettysburg board of trustees are accomplishments that speak for themselves. I’m in process of reviewing game films to determine who was quickest and had moves almost as good as mine in high school. Thanks for sending, Pat.
— Joe Zarinsky
Thanks for the information. I will miss him, too! I apologize for the following viewpoint if I offend anyone. I choose to use his name of “Phil” not Snuffy. In speaking with Phil about 5 years ago, he mentioned that he had a tough time returning to G-burg for reunions because of the stress and hassles he underwent while here at school. He reiterated this concept when I e-mailed him to ask him to attend the 45th class reunion this year. His illness might have been a factor as well.
I believe he and another black American may have been the only members of his race that attended the college at that time. Nicky Nightstick certainly was a hassle for him as were some of the town establishments, obviously reflecting the civil rights issues of the times. I believe that he would have to go to the south part of town to have a social life, to a degree. I am not sure how he got the nickname “Snuffy”. It may have been due to his grease-lightning speed. OR It may have been an overflow from his high school in Cherry Hill, NJ. Anyone know? I never really understood the civil rights issues until I graduated from college. I never realized what Phil felt or was subjected to in Gettysburg until I became a high school, social studies teacher and had to teach students about the issues of the times. Again, being white, I still never really understand what he lived through to this day.
I played with Phil on the football team; he was one tough cookie! Tackling him was never a pleasure! It was great when he would show up for a Friday night supper of spaghetti and meatballs! He always seemed to be a happy camper! Phil was a gentle soul who had an enormous resolve to better himself as well as bring equality to his race. His history following G-burg certainly emphasizes that he was on a mission that turned out to be very successful. He will be sorely missed as a fellow human being as well as being a classmate!!
Thanks again for the sad news.
Phi Alpha, Penn
— Richard Penn Lardner
Thanks for that insight Penn. I was a freshman in the fall of ’65 so missed, but heard of his exploits on the field. A sidebar on your email – I would like to say that I am proud that he felt comfortable with the house and coming to dinner. We certainly were a tough group socially but I like to think we were and are “colorblind”. One more reason for the pride in the House and the men that went through it. Politics is a whole other ballgame! And thank goodness we don’t agree on that – it’s what makes our country great.
PA, Mjs “Skinny” ‘69
Thanks Pat for the sad news about Snuffy. Yesterday(11/2) Mark Snyder and I attended the funeral of a relative in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, and had we known in advance, we definitely would have attended Snuffy’s funeral as well. Having been born and raised in Hershey, Snuffy was the first black person I ever knew—-personable, humorous, friendly and a great team mate. He was a “trailblazer” at Gburg because he and Ron Council were the only minorities on the football team, and possibly in the entire school.
In 1963, he and Mark were elected as our co-captains and that alone should signify how much his team mates loved and respected him. I’ll always recall our game at Wittenburg in ’63 that we lost in a 48-36 shootout. Late in the game things got “out of control” and fights broke out all over the field between these” two fine Lutheran supported colleges”. I vividly remember that Snuffy went after Wittenburg’s All-American receiver (Sherry), who was also black, and took a few swings at him. Our era of Gettysburg football, the early 60s, has really lost some great men in recent years—Bill Brooks, Don Enders, Stan Rubinsky, Geno, Shuey and now, Phil “Snuffy” Parsons!!! My very best to all you former Bullets—they were GREAT YEARS!!!
— Ken Snyder
Thanks, Pat. I lived across the hall from Snuffy in Old Dorm for two years. We became good friends. He was a good man.
— Lane Kneedler
Thanks for including me in your reminisces of Phil “Snuffy” Parsons. As the alumni director at Gettysburg, it’s gratifying to see the power of the friendships that have remained so strong over 40+ years, as well as illuminating to hear stories of what G-burg was like in the early/mid 1960s. I also wanted to pass along a few bits of information that may be useful:
1) Here’s the address for Phil’s daughter. I’m sure she’d love to hear about the impact her father made on so many of you, as evidenced by what’s been written here.
Ms. Andrea Parsons
320 East 21st Street, #310
Chicago, IL 60616
2) The date for the 1964 Football Team Reunion is the weekend of Sept. 17-19, 2010. Feel free to put it on your calendars and share the date with others. We’ll get word out by mail, along with some additional details, within the next few months.
3) I recall someone asking about how Phil got the nickname “Snuffy,” and I heard the answer to that last night from Jim Weaver ’64, who pledged TKE with Snuffy as sophomores in the fall of 1961. Apparently Phil had a grandmother who dipped snuff, and she’d send young Phil to the store (in Camden) whenever she was running low. Eventually, the grocer started saying “Here comes Snuffy” whenever he saw Phil en route to the store to buy snuff, and the name stuck.
Again, thanks for including me here, and I feel at a loss for never having met Phil.
— Joe Lynch ‘85
Gettysburg College Alumni Director