Valdosta Daily Times


February 28, 2014

Snead Young Matthews Davis

VALDOSTA — Snead Young Matthews Davis, 104, of Jacksonville, Fla., died Feb. 22, 2014, in Jacksonville. Born on Sept. 25, 1909, in Berrien County, Ga., Snead was the eldest of three daughters of the late Henry Spann and Sampie Snead Young. She grew up on a farm in Berrien County, attended Georgia State Woman’s College (now Valdosta State University), and taught school in Alapaha and Enigma Georgia.

In 1934, Snead married Thomas D. Matthews owner of the Santa Fe River Ranch (SFRR) near Alachua, Fla. There they established the first herd of registered cattle in the State.  Following Tom’s untimely death in 1947, Snead continued to operate SFRR.

In 1948, she married A. D. Davis, one of the Founders, President and Chairman of Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., and moved to Jacksonville. Together they further developed the purebred cattle business at SFRR and led efforts to modernize the Florida livestock.  

SFRR became a nationally acclaimed Polled Hereford herd.

In 1955, Snead and A.D. purchased the Lazy CJ Ranch in Saratoga, WY, and in 1957, they also purchased The Big Horn Ranches in North Park near Walden, CO.  A.D. and Snead, with their national recognition in the cattle industry, created the trademark for the Winn-Dixie Stores:  “The Beef People.”

During the 20 years of major growth of the Winn-Dixie Stores, Snead and A.D. were widely involved throughout Florida and the United States. Notably, Snead served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention that nominated John F. Kennedy. It was in their suite with many well-known political leaders of the time that Lyndon B. Johnson was persuaded to accept the role of Vice President.  

After their divorce in 1968, Snead turned her full attention to running SFRR and breeding Polled Hereford cattle until she sold the ranch in 2009.

Snead was the first woman asked to judge Hereford cattle and the first female inducted into the American Polled Hereford Association Hall of Fame.  She was also inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame. In 1977, she represented the beef industry as one of twelve professional women exclusively chosen to tour China.  A member of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association since its inception, Snead was made an Honorary Director in 1989.

Snead was a long-time supporter of the University of Florida (UF), serving on the UF Foundation’s Board of Directors, and as Vice Chairman of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS)/Special Help for Agricultural Research and Education  Council from 1983-1985.  Her major gifts to UF/IFAS were aimed at the development of educational programs for young people especially in the advancement of beef cattle research and judging.

Florida Blue Key at UF elected her to membership in its Honor Fraternity in 1989, and in 1993, UF made her an Honorary Alumna.  Snead was also inducted into the UF Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.

Snead showed patronage and service to many community organizations: director of The Bartram School for 25 years; recipient of the Florida Sheriff’s Association Distinctive Services Award; director of the Jacksonville Symphony; founding member of the Womens’ Board, Wolfson Children’s Hospital; supporter of the American Cancer Society Cowford Ball; and supporter of the Cummer and Saratoga, WY, museums. She served 30 years on the Board of The Florida House, the nation’s only state embassy in Washington, D.C, and received its outstanding leadership award, The 1845 Society.     

Snead was widely respected among her hunting companions for her endurance and energy as well as for her skill with rifle and shotgun alike.  She hunted big game from the 1950s until she killed her last elk at age ninety-eight, and she was legendary as an expert bird hunter and fly fisherman.

“Aunt Snead,” as she was known to friends and relatives alike, enjoyed entertaining.  Her homes at SFRR, Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville, and Saratoga, were often filled with family and friends. She hosted memorable parties, especially her GA-FL Football Post-Game event which she held annually for over 50 years.

She is survived by her sister, Nancy Young Schmoe, Quitman; her nieces and nephews: Suwannee Shuntich (Louis), Susannah Borg, Jeannie Wisenbaker, Yon Lindsey (Michelle), and Robert Lindsey (Carolyn); fourteen grand-nieces and nephews; and 17 great-grand-nieces and nephews. Snead is predeceased by her sister, Alice Young Lindsey.

Family will receive friends from 5:30- p.m. in the evening on Monday, March 3, 2014 at The Oaklawn Chapel, 4801 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, followed at 7 p.m. by funeral services. Family graveside services will take place in Newnansville Cemetery in Alachua, Fla. At 4 p.m. in the afternoon, family and friends are invited to a Celebration of Life at Santa Fe River Ranch, Alachua.

Contributions may be made in her honor to The Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation, Santa Fe River Ranch Youth Fund, P.O. Box 421929, Kissimmee, FL 34742-1929, or to the charity of your choice. Hardage-Giddens, — The Oaklawn Chapel, Jacksonville, Fla. is serving the family.

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