Rolling Hills resident and 67-year-old neurosurgeon Melvin Snyder started getting more active and adventuresome in the last 15 years. As a busy partner of three at the Institute of Brain and Spine Surgery in Torrance, Snyder loves his job and wants to continue practicing as long as physically possible, which is why he has become attentive to his physical well-being in recent years.
“You can’t prevent a bad car accident, but I truly believe if you take care of yourself you have a good chance at living a long time,” Snyder said.
To keep active he picked up a few after-work activities. While most of his counter-parts have picked up golfing, Snyder picked up snowboarding. After shredding powder alone for 12 years, his recently married daughter Laurie saw how much fun he was having and joined him on the ski lifts. Now the pair board back-country mountains, snowboard from helicopters and scare Laurie’s husband, who has recently joined the pair, on double black diamond runs.
“I’m a little crazy in those ways,” said Snyder about his adventurous spirit. “Once the kids grew up, I started doing things for myself.”
Snyder has practiced neurosurgery in the South Bay area for more than 30 years. He is often on-call and frequently responds to emergency situations. He was recently honored with the 2012 selection of one of the “Top Doctors” by Castle and Connolly, the organization that gives their information to U.S. News and Report for the best-of-the-best in their fields in America.
“I didn’t grow up thinking I’d be a brain surgeon,” said Snyder. “I wanted to be a rocket scientist.”
Out of 1,000 students at his alma mater of MIT, only nine of them continued on to medical school. Snyder was one of them. He met his wife while living in Boston and she was looking for a teaching job.
“We joke that she came to Boston and got a job and a husband in one week,” Snyder said.
Janice and her husband have four children: Jason, Kevin, Laurie and Michael. Like Snyder, they are all ambitious and successful. His oldest son Jason is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, while his youngest, Michael, works for World Learning and is getting a Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His daughter Laurie practices psychology and Kevin is a teacher.
To keep healthy, Janice does Pilates and yoga. Snyder will frequently join her for a Pilates session. She teaches at Rancho Vista Elementary School, and referring to her flexibility with his adventures and strenuous work schedule, he said, “My wife is wonderful.”
Not long ago his daughter Laurie decided to lace up her running shoes and take on the Long Beach marathon.
“I just thought it was the most wonderful thing,” said Snyder. So I thought, ‘I wonder if I can do that?’”
Since beginning training with his daughter in 2010 he has raced in 6 marathons and multiple half marathons.
“My daughter is so good,” said Snyder. “By the 19th mile I slow down and she wants to run with me so she runs a mile and comes and gets me and so on.”
For Snyder, the rush of running is not anything like the freedom of snowboarding.
“Snowboarding I love every minute,” Snyder said. “With marathons I’m finally happy when I’m finished. Once I’m done though I’m just beaming, It’s an accomplishment.”
Between family, neurosurgery and sports he hopes to continue being active as long as possible.
“The nice thing is I’ve been doing all this with my family,” he said. “That’s the key.”