The Detroit News, October 6, 1959

Roy Snell, Adventure Writer and Lecturer Here, Dies at 80

Roy J.Snell, whose tales of far treks and wilderness adventure stirred the youth of Detroit for three decades, is dead at the age of 80.

Word has been received here that he died of a heart ailment Sept. 21 in a suburban Chicago hospital.

Every year, from 1922 through 1951, Mr. Snell appeared at Detroit area public schools under the sponsorship of the Detroit News. He told thrilling stores of remote frontiers—the Arctic, the tropics, the deserts, the seas—and illustrated them with lantern slides and motion picture reels.


When he wasn't lecturing he was writing, and he turned out 78 books of mystery and adventure for boys and girls. He once reported that two million copies of his books were in print.

Many of them were published in serial form in the widely read magazines of earlier generations—the American Boy, The Youth's Companion and Boys Life.

Mr. Snell wrote scripts for the Jack Armstrong radio show, and often lectured over WWJ-The Detroit News.

He told of Eskimos and South American savages, cowboys and sportsmen. He had stories of gold prospecting in Alaska, and of crossing great deserts on camels.

He described how to hunt bear with a bow and arrow and said he had dined on boiled lizards in the jungles of Haiti.

Like Huckleberry Finn said of Mark Twain, "He told the truth, mainly, but there was things which he stretched."


Take, for instance, Mr. Snell's advice on how to catch a tame monkey, which has gone wild:

"A pan of glue is often useful. The monkey is much given to imitation. Folowing the example of his master, he takes up the habit of washing his face.

"A pan of glue is substituted for water. Mr. Monk washes his face with glue. His eyes are stuck fast together and he is easily caught."

Of all the world's wildlands which Mr. Snell knew, one of his favorites was Michigan's Isle Royale. For many years he spent his summers there.

One of the natural mysteries which intrigued him was the question of how the island's moose herds got there. (His guess: they crossed from the mainland on an ice floe about 1912).

When the moose seemed in danger of extinction because of lack of winter food, Mr. Snell proposed that schoolchildren gather millions of acorns for shipment to the island as feed.


Mr. Snell was born n a Missouri farm and reared on an Illinois farm. He attended Wheaton College, at Wheaton Ill., and during his young manhood he taught school in the hills of Kentucky.

He sold his first story at the age of 35, and from then on devoted his life to traveling, writing and lecturing.

Mr. Snell made his permanent home at Wheaton.

Surviving are his wife, Lucille; three sons, Jud, of Minneapolis, John of Omaha, and Laurie, of Hanover, N.H.; and a sister.