Tradition for tradition’s sake is an empty affair. Actions and occasions become traditions because they are worthwhile, because they have value. So becoming part of a family tradition is a significant endorsement for a small college like Hampden-Sydney.
It’s not unusual for sons to consider going to the same college as their fathers; the school is recognizable and comfortable. Fathers’ fond memories become inspiration for young boys.
Because Hampden-Sydney has had such a positive influence on their lives, fathers have encouraged sons also to come to the College, and, over the centuries, many fathers and sons have become brothers on The Hill. They share common memories of living in Cushing, taking classes from the same professors in Morton, pledging the same fraternity, or celebrating a hard-fought victory over Randolph-Macon.
Hampden-Sydney has many legacies, students who are sons of alumni. It seems that each freshman class has a couple dozen at least. However, a “double legacy”—a student whose father and grandfather both came to Hampden-Sydney—is rare. Here are three such students and why they decided that coming to Hampden-Sydney College was a tradition worth upholding.
JOHN MOORE ’15
To say that the family of John Moore ’15 is thickly intertwined with Hampden- Sydney College might be an understatement. His father, William S. “Bill” Moore, Sr., graduated in 1978 and his paternal grandfather, Thomas C. Moore ’52, attended for one year. His maternal grandfather, The Hon. Ernest P. Gates, Sr., was in the Class of 1945 but completed his coursework later because World War II interrupted the studies of him and most of his classmates. It doesn’t stop there. John says, “Uncle Rusty, Uncle Tom, Uncle David, Uncle Bill, and Uncle Phil all came to Hampden-Sydney, and they’ve all had sons who have come here, except Uncle Tom, whose son is only about 12. I’m sure he’ll come here too.”
For many years, John just assumed he would come to Hampden-Sydney just like the other men in his family. But as he got older and thought more about what it means to go to college, he began considering other options, such as William & Mary, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Military Institute.
In the end, he came back to H-SC.
“The possibility of being a legacy influenced my decision a lot. At every family gathering literally everybody has gone to Hampden-Sydney. The basis of conversation is Hampden-Sydney football, Hampden-Sydney this, Hampden-Sydney that. I’ve always been around it and on Saturdays the whole family has come to the football games. It didn’t matter if a family member was playing or not, it was a family event. It’s not that I didn’t want to stray from the norm, I just liked it, so it felt natural.”
Bill Moore says even though his father attended the College for only one year, that was an influential year. “He was always very fond of the College. He lived his life leading by example with faith and family always in the forefront. Reflecting back, I know Hampden-Sydney had something to do with forming my dad’s values; it certainly did for me, and I pray it does for John. I know the impact the College can have on a person, and I’m very excited for my son to have that experience. He was a good man when he enrolled; I know he will leave Hampden- Sydney a better man than he was when he arrived, and for that I’m very thankful. What more could a father want for his son?”
John grew up coming to football games and plays on the team now. He and his father even share the same jersey number.
“When I was a kid, I was always asking my dad to tell me stories about when he played football here. I remember the way he talked about—and the way he still talks about—his teammates as his best friends. I feel the same way about my teammates as he did. It’s the same way for all of our friends. He is just so close with all of his friends and they all come over and keep in touch. They are still his best friends, and that is what I want to take away from my time experience—along with a great education, obviously.”
However, not everything about the Moores stays within the family. Bill Moore was a Kappa Sigma brother, as was his fatherin- law, Judge Gates. John broke out on his own and joined SAE. That will surely be a topic of conversation at family gatherings for years to come.
CASEY JOHNSON ’14
Naturally, getting a great education was important to Casey Johnson ’14 when he was looking at colleges, but he could not stop thinking about how important long-lasting friendships have been to his father, Robert D. “Bob” Johnson ’77.
“I look at my dad now and I see how his best friends are still his friends from Hampden- Sydney. We have our friends at home, but he is most excited when he comes up here and he’s with his old fraternity brothers and football teammates. Those are still his best friends, and I’m really excited because I know it’s going to be the same way with me. I honestly think you don’t get that at other schools.”
But it did not stop with his father. He says his grandfather, Robert M. Johnson ’53 was the same way, gathering with his classmates every year for their own little reunion at Homecoming.
The Johnson family has strong ties with the College, but Casey knows his time here has to be about him. “I like the fact that my dad and grandfather and a couple of uncles all came here. I like that a lot. Not many people can say that and it definitely influenced me to come here, but it wasn’t the deciding factor.”
“Hampden-Sydney gave me enough choices to make my own path once I got here. My dad played football, but I didn’t feel pressured to play sports. My dad was a PiKA, but I knew I didn’t have to join that fraternity. I could make my own decisions and I have. I got to make my Hampden-Sydney experience all mine.”
ENGLISH SNIDOW, JR. ’16
Like so many legacies, English Snidow, Jr. ’16 practically grew up at Hampden-Sydney.
“Since I’ve been alive, I don’t think we’ve missed a Homecoming,” says English. “The schedule at Homecoming is always go to the Tiger Inn before the game, go to the Bookstore during half time, and then right after the game go to KA until my mom is ready to leave.”
His father, R. English “Bob” Snidow, Sr. ’81, played football in Death Valley and continues to be a big supporter of the team. He is also a big supporter of his son. “Once I got the acceptance letter, the President’s Scholarship, and the news that I could play lacrosse, coming to H-SC started sounding pretty good. So, I told my dad, ‘I think I’m going to keep the legacy alive and go to Hampden-Sydney.’ He gave me a big hug and was pretty excited about it.”
Though English and his family spend Homecoming at his father’s fraternity house, English is pledging Sigma Chi, the same fraternity as his grandfather, Clifton Snidow, Jr. ’39. He plays on the lacrosse team, is majoring in physics, and wants to become an engineer.
English says the Hampden-Sydney network and being a legacy has already paid off. “While I was matriculating as a freshman, my dad ran into an old buddy of his who is a civil engineer. He gave me his business card and told me to give him a call.”
Tiger football games brought English to campus, but knowing what the school can do for him is what English loves about Hampden- Sydney.