In Memory of Retired Justice Bruce M. Snell, Jr.

Retired Justice Bruce  M.  Snell, Jr.
Retired Justice Bruce M. Snell, Jr.
Born: August 18, 1929
Died: December 20, 2019
Age: 90
Send Condolences
Retired Justice Bruce M. Snell, Jr.
August 18, 1929 - December 20, 2019
From: Ida Grove, IA

Retired Iowa Supreme Court Justice Bruce M. Snell, Jr., age 90, of Ida Grove, Iowa passed away on Friday, December 20, 2019, at the Horn Memorial Hospital of Ida Grove, Iowa.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, February 15, 2020, at the United Methodist Church of Ida Grove, Iowa. Rev. Chad Lierman will officiate. Committal will be held at a later date in the Ida Grove Cemetery of Ida Grove, Iowa. A visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a Masonic Service at 7:00 p.m., Friday, February 14, 2020, at the Christensen-Van Houten Funeral Home of Ida Grove, Iowa. The Christensen-Van Houten Funeral Home of Ida Grove, Iowa is in charge of the funeral arrangements.      

Condolences may be sent online

Bruce M. Snell, Jr., a resident of Ida Grove, Iowa, died on December 20, 2019, marking the last surviving member in Ida Grove of a pioneer family dating to 1871. Bruce Morey Snell, Jr. was born on August 18, 1929, the son of Justice Bruce M. Snell and Donna Potter Snell.  He graduated from Ida Grove High School in 1947, Grinnell College in 1951, then served two years in the United States Army during the Korean War.  Following his military service, he enrolled in the University of Iowa Law School, where he was Comments Editor of the Iowa Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif, the top ten percent; he graduated in 1956.

Bruce married Anne Fischer in 1956.  Anne had a distinguished career in nursing and, along with Bruce, was a renowned entertainer.  Bruce and Anne raised two children, Rebecca and Brad, and had a wonderful marriage of 59 years.  They cherished their many friends and loved their memorable travels.

Bruce’s early legal career included working as a Staff Lawyer for Union Carbide in New York City.  Upon returning to Iowa, he served the public as an Iowa Assistant Attorney General and had a solo law practice in Ida Grove.  In 1976, Governor Robert Ray appointed him to the inaugural Iowa Court of Appeals.  In 1987, he was appointed by Governor Terry Branstad to the Iowa Supreme Court, following in his father’s footsteps.

In his hometown, Bruce enjoyed civic activities: member of Kiwanis for 50+ years, as well as American Legion, Masonic Lodge, and Abu Bekr Shrine.  Past board activities included Horn Hospital Board of Directors, Administrative Board and Board of Trustees of the Methodist Church, and President of Ida Grove Country Club (he even designed the layout for the golf course).  Bruce was honored in 1987 as Ida Grove “Citizen of the Year” and in 2001 as “Distinguished Alumnus” by both Grinnell College and the University of Iowa College of Law.

 Bruce will be remembered for his kindness, even temperament, broad smile, subtle wit, and love of life.

He is survived by his daughter, Rebecca, and her beloved cats, Reese & Frito, of Orlando, Florida; his son, Brad, and his wife, Carol, and their devoted canine companions, Tanker Bruce, Ivory Anne, and Dave Bradley, and their cat, Suzu Joy, of Iowa City, Iowa; his brother-in-law, Robert Fischer, of Meservey, Iowa; his niece, Karen Keller, and nephew, Attorney Jim Keller, of St. Louis, Missouri; niece, Ann Snodgrass (Charles) of Knoxville, Tennessee; nephew, Paul Vickerstaff (Ann), of Birmingham, Alabama; cousins, Marilyn Potter, Dennis Potter (Trudy), and Gary Potter (Barbara), all of Minnesota.  Bruce and Anne were very proud and grateful to accept the invitation to be “honorary grandparents” to Cole, Evan, and Sophia Veltri of Ida Grove, children of dear friends Dr. Al and Becky Veltri.

Bruce was preceded in death by his wife, Anne; parents, Bruce and Donna Snell; and sisters, Dorothy Vickerstaff and Virginia Keller.

Memorials may be directed to OABCIG Dollars for Scholars or Horn Memorial Hospital Foundation.


11:00 a.m., Saturday
February 15, 2020
United Methodist Church
Ida Grove, Iowa


Rev. Chad Lierman


4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Friday, February 14, 2020
Christensen-Van Houten
Funeral Home
Ida Grove, Iowa


"Take Five" 
"Till There Was You"
"Iowa Fight Song"
"Take My Hand, Precious Lord"
"Remember Me"
"The Very Thought of You"


Friday, February 7, 2020 at 2:52 PM
“My mother, Helen Bond, was employed by Bruce & his father. I would walk down from school & spend time in the office & also in the Snell home. I remember a bicycle accident I had near tge school & Bruce picked me up in his brand new car. I was so afraid I was going to bleed on his upholstery but he just wanted to get me to my mother ASAP! Bruce also let us stay in his home one winter during a terrible blizzard. He was a kind & generous boss to my mother & a great friend to her. So many memories of that law office & being with Becky as well. Godspeed, Bruce. Sympathy to the entire Snell family.”
- Teresa (Bond) Schumann
Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 11:18 AM
“Bruce became part of my last fe through his beloved wife Anne. He was kind, thoughtful and fun. Bruce was a gentleman. He and Anne were friends to me. We enjoyed conversations, plays at Civic Center Dinner. Bruce enriched my life. Anne andBruce are forever in my memory. My sympathy to Brad and Carol and Rebecca.”
- Jeanne Calkins
Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 12:09 PM
“I had the pleasure of meeting Bruce through my place of employment; Golden Horizons.
He always was so kind and pleasant; genuine and loving.
I enjoyed our talks and how he made me feel important.
He would always ask you how you were doing and if he could help you with anything; always so caring and concerned about your well being.
I will miss the "good morning Deb" that I received everyday that I saw him.
Something so small; that meant the world to me.
- Deb Droegmiller
Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 12:09 PM
“Such a joy to share time with Bruce over recent years and exchange written correspondence. A wonderful, positive, thoughtful and enthusiastic man. I am better for knowing him. Respectfully. Ross Rayner, Safety Harbor, Florida ”
- Ross Rayner
Monday, December 30, 2019 at 10:43 AM
“Never a kinder, gentler, or wise person will I ever meet. I met Judge many, many years ago. He always greeted me whether at the store or on the street. Everyone he met and spoke to was the most important person at that moment. We have lost a big part of our history which can never be replaced. I know he was welcomed home with open arms by Ann and our Heavenly Father. May you forever rest in peace.”
- Ange Johnson
Monday, December 30, 2019 at 10:43 AM
“Justice Snell was one of the kindest gentleman ever to serve on our appellate courts. On the bench, he was all business, but always fair and courteous -- even when he disagreed with the argument you were making. Off the bench, he had a warm smile, an infectious personality, a quick wit, and a way of making you feel like you were the most important person he was going to see that day. ”
- Bruce Kempkes
Monday, December 30, 2019 at 10:43 AM
“Justice Snell was always a pleasure to argue a case before. He was always well read on the case, professional in his questions and well reasoned in his decisions. On some instances, he would come out to visit with counsel after arguments--always appreciated. In retirement, he joined a Hawkeye luncheon group in Iowa City, Garden Club, and it was a pleasure to visit with him as a friend--and vocal Hawkeye fan. He was a wonderful person who gave much to the people of Iowa. I'm sorry for your loss. ”
- J. Patrick White
Thursday, December 26, 2019 at 12:10 PM
“I’ve know Judge Snell for just about 50 years, I delivered the Des Moines Register to his house from when I was 10 years old up until I was 18. Judge & Anne were also our neighbors, they were always special to me a i was growing up and treated me like I was also part of their family. They were good friends to my parents and the type of people you knew you could always count on if you needed them.

Years later when my mother passed away, I knew they would gladly help me with my father if and when needed. They were just that wonderful couple that didn’t think twice about it.
Judge carried himself in such a way that you couldn’t help being drawn to him. I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on issues and deeply respected his well thought out insights. It didn’t take long to understand why he was such a well respected judge.
Even later in life I knew I could count on him if I ever needed his help in any way.
I will miss his enthusiasm and charismatic personality, he will be dearly missed, not just by me, but everyone’s life he had touched. May God be with you.
- Mark Bogue
Thursday, December 26, 2019 at 12:10 PM
“I grew up in the law office of Bruce's dad and always enjoyed reading case files while waiting for mom to get off work. Bruce was a lifelong friend to our family. My mother worked for him during his time in Ida Grove and I knew him to be a kind and caring person. He once drove me 60 miles to a hospital and was always concerned about the welfare of other people. God"s speed Bruce! You will be missed.”
- Donald Bond
Monday, December 23, 2019 at 2:22 PM
“Judge Snell was always my favorite interview during those reporting days at the Ida County Pioneer Record. In his humility, Bruce always had a way of making the other person feel more important. In the past couple of years, I had the privilege of reconnecting with this dear soul. I pray he and dear Anne are back together again, or soon will be. I am so grateful for the friendship with Bruce and his family.”
- Judy Bowman
Monday, December 23, 2019 at 2:22 PM
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this time of loss. ”
- Mavis Koenen & Sherri Koenen Lemanczyk
Click Here If You Would Like To Leave Your Condolences