The Life of Mrs. Erna F. Snyder

Erna Furst Snyder of Kutztown, left us on the first day of January in the year 2022. She was the daughter of Joseph Furst and Johanna Wechsler Furst, both who immigrated to the United States from Austria in the 1920's. She was preceded in death by 3 siblings, Johanna Danner, Emma Wirtz, and Joseph Furst Jr., but is survived by her younger brother Alfred Furst of Kutztown, PA.

Erna was married for over 60 years to the late Kenneth P. Snyder, a World War II tail gunner, lithographer, photo products salesman and avid golfer who absolutely adored her.

She was the mother of 3 sons: Steve, the oldest son, currently lives in Allentown, PA. He is a golf professional who was head pro at the Berkleigh Country Club for many years and subsequently became a full time teaching golf pro with his Golf Tec business in Bethlehem. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth (Snyder) Stuckley, and her husband Jeremy live in Lehighton, PA and have 2 children, Olivia (7) and Ethan (4). His youngest daughter, Stephanie (Snyder) Rubin, and her husband Jonathon live in Vienna, VA and have 2 sons, Logan (11) and Grant (9).

Kevin, the second son, has spent his whole life in Kutztown, including owning and operating Adam n' Eve Boutique in downtown Kutztown for close to 50 years, the store features an eclectic blend of women's clothing, handcrafted jewelry and accessories. He also owned locations in Allentown for 20 years and Behtlehem for 6 years. Kevin is currently president of Kutztown Borough Council and active in many projects to benefit the growth of the community.

Peter, the youngest son, currently lives in Bernville, PA. He has been a visual artist for 45 years and has had over 150 exhibitions of sculptures and paintings. He worked at Penn State Berks Campus for 20 years in the arts, teaching and landscaping. He then started his own landscape company, Gardenworks, which is now Peter Jon Snyder Artganic Design, where he builds art landscapes with rocks, boulders and sculpture. His daughter, Piera (Snyder) Moyer and her husband Justin live in Wyomissing, PA and have 2 children, Gryffin (8) and Gracie (6).

Erna grew up on a 150 acre farm outside of Virginville, speaking a dialect of German before learning English. The family then moved to Kutztown in the 1930's, because her father, outside of being a farmer and cement mill worker, was also a carpenter and contractor and wanted to work on properties in the borough. She graduated from Kutztown High School, and was pursued, and eventually married Kutztown native, Kenneth Snyder.

After having her first two boys, she entered a beauty contest at the Reading Fair and won. She then entered the Miss Pennsylvania contest because they needed the money, and amazingly won that too. That win automatically entered her into the 1954 Mrs. America pageant, where she stunned the entire town of Kutztown by winning it at Asbury Park in September of 1953 - the last event to be held there. Her talents included sewing, cooking and of course, she was stunningly beautiful in both the evening gown and the bathing suit. She traveled around the country as an American ambassador, aided in Red Cross, heart, tuberculosis and polio campaigns in Berks and Lehigh counties, was featured in TV commercials and met with President Dwight Eisenhower. Peter, was then born in 1955 to complete the family.

The following year, she opened her own women's dress shop called Furst's Fashion Shoppe with her sister Johanna at the top of the hill in Kutztown, which lasted until the the early 1970's. After that, Ken and Erna invested in some properties in downtown Kutztown, where they opened American Classics - an antique shop specializing in primitives. Along with the antiques, she had a passion for interior design and did consulting for many years. She was not only a lifetime member of St. Mary's Roman Catholic church in Kutztown, but also instrumental in the founding of the Kutztown Historical Society, Kutztown Shade Tree Project, Kutztown Women's Club and sat on the board of trustees at Kutztown University. Erna became a Realtor with her brother Alfred for Century 21 Furst Reality until the mid 80's.

In 1976, Erna and Ken moved out of Kutztown to the Krumsville area to open another antique shop in an old mill, called Greenwich Mills Antiques. She absolutely loved the property, constantly working on the 1700's style house and gardens for almost 40 years. When that property became too much to take care of, they moved to a small Kutztown rancher in 2014, where they lived until Ken passed away in 2016. Erna then moved to Keystone Villa in Fleetwood, where the staff and residents all adored and loved her.

Erna Furst Snyder was an incredible woman who loved her husband, her sons, and the town of Kutztown. She will be missed by everyone who knew her.


A celebration of Erna's life will be announced in the spring of 2022. Ludwick Funeral Homes and Cremation Care, Inc., Kutztown, is in charge of arrangements. Memories and condolences may be shared at

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Posted by Ludwick F on 01/08/2022