Scott James Snelson
December 29, 1959 – April 29, 2021
On the morning of Thursday, April 29, 2021, Scott Snelson passed away in his West Valley City home from an unexpected heart attack at the age of 61.
Scott was born on December 29, 1959 in Long Beach, CA. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University, and went on to become the inaugural President of Tooele Applied Technology College in 2009. He had three children in his first marriage with Luann Elliott: Daniel, Kristi, and Samantha. In 2006, he married LesLee Snelson (née Taylor) and became stepfather to Jayla and Kylie.
A curly-haired ginger with a winning smile, Scott grew up on the coasts of Oregon and California. For his boundless energy and knack for mischief, his mother Jean lovingly anointed him with his first nickname: “Taz,” short for Tasmanian Devil. A whirlwind of talent, he quickly became an unstoppable force on the soccer pitch. He loved to tell the story of demonstrating his full back-flip scissor-kicks to a packed audience before competitive matches in Mexico. His dedication to the sport led to a starring role as the captain of his team at BYU, where he was publicly profiled as the “Danny Ainge of soccer.” He went on to become a finalist for the 1984 US Olympic team, followed by a professional run with the Minnesota Strikers (until the NASL league folded), and then anchored the legendary semi-professional indoor team, The Salt Eaters, for nearly a decade before he traded in his captain’s band for the coach’s whistle.
He loved the sport throughout his life, and shared the lessons of the game as both coach and mentor, changing the lives of untold players and students. With soccer, as with all things, his oft-repeated refrains continue to reverberate: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Coaching at Roy High School, he may perhaps be best remembered for making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for organizing (and playing in!) the longest soccer match ever recorded: one continuous game for 75.5 hours. While he coached many teams and a variety of sports, he was particularly proud of creating the F. C. Pride youth competitive soccer club in Northern Utah. Leading his son’s team to state and national championships remained a highlight of his coaching career. But his coaching mentality was never just about the game—rather, the game was always a metaphor for life. He inspired all those around him to achieve greatness, both personal and collective, to overcome the odds and win the day. For Scott, there was—as he liked to say—“no try, only do.”
And he did a lot. Namely, whatever he set his mind to. He began his career in education as a sports medicine teacher and coach at Roy High. From there, his ascent was meteoric. He leapt into the position of State Specialist at the Utah State Office of Education. He was then appointed to the role of Vice President of Student Services at Mountainland Applied Technology College. Finally, Scott went on to become the first and founding President of Tooele Applied Technology College (TATC) in 2009. Under his visionary leadership, TATC’s new award-winning facility became a major force for economic development in Tooele County. In his own words on his retirement from TATC, he marked this work in gratitude: “Thanks for the opportunity, trust, memorable experiences and delightful journey.”
Today, the Scott and LesLee Snelson Conference Room at TATC commemorates his foundational contributions to the College. A roster of awards and accolades attests to Scott’s extraordinary impact in his field. As Chair of the National Consortium on Health Science Education, Scott was the recipient of the “Outstanding Leadership” Award from the U.S. Department of Labor, “Arch of Fame” Award from the National Association for Career and Technical Education, and a “NCHSE Lifetime Membership” Award. However, for Scott, the greatest awards were always the relationships he built along the way—from the joy of inside jokes (which he seemed to share with literally every single person he knew!) to the depths of lifelong friendships—he treasured these connections above all else.
Beyond all this, his primary dedication was always to his home and to his family. The enormity of his support defies description. Perhaps the line—“If you need me, I’ll come a-runnin’”—best encapsulates his spirit. And it was true, whether that meant driving across the country at the drop of a hat or simply dropping everything else to go hang a shelf. Building domestic bliss with his wife LesLee was Scott’s obsession and highest art form. He always (always!) had a grand new project in the works: an extraordinary fence, a magnificent deck, a horseshoe pit, a woodworking studio. Invention met perspiration in his backyard, locally known in West Valley as a “Garden of Eden,” where he hosted elaborate themed parties with his wife, LesLee, for all of their various communities. Most prominent among these was an annual “BOBs Bash” in honor of his mother-in-law, Sandra McCauley—an event all involved would eagerly mark on their calendars each year—ranging from “BOBpocalypse” (a Mad Max themed romp) to “BOBstock” (a backyard recreation of Woodstock). Anyone who has ever attended an event hosted by Scott will immediately recall the depth of care, the breadth of consideration, and the sheer joy of play in each gathering.
In his passing, we remember him in this same spirit of celebration. He was loved by all, the center of any room, the life of every party. Building inclusive communities was so central to Scott’s character that he made it look effortless, even as he made every single person he encountered feel special, valued, and singular. He was the sun that lit up every scene. And more than that, its emergent moments: the sunrise, the sunset, the star-filled sky. None of which will hold the same luster with his passing, but all of which were made forever brighter through his presence.
Scott is preceded in death by his stepfather, Jim Shook. He is survived by his wife LesLee Snelson; mother Jean Shook; mother-in-law Sandra McCauley; sister Wendy Case; children Daniel Scott Snelson (wife Mashinka Hakopian), Kristi Martin (husband Clay Martin), Samantha Snelson; Jayla Rae Ardelean (husband Jeremy Currin), and Kylie Ardelean (partner Veronica Cuenca); grandchildren Jayci Martin, Zoey Martin, Mazzy Benno, Indy Benno, Charlie Benno, Dariel Cuenca, Tara Russell, Emma Russell, Liam Currin, and Eva Currin; and two doting cockapoos, Stormy and Willow; as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends and family too numerous to list but not forgotten.
Services will be held at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park, located at 3401 South Highland Drive in Millcreek on Wednesday the 12th of May. The family will be receiving attendees at 1pm, followed by an outdoor memorial program beginning at 2pm. Donations in Scott’s name can be made to Good Sports or Every Kid Sports, organizations that remove financial barriers to sports involvement for low-income youth.
- LesLee Snelson, Wife
- Daniel Scott Snelson (Mashinka Hakopian), Son
- Kristi Martin (Clay Martin), Daughter
- Samantha Snelson, Daughter
- Jayla Rae Ardelean (Jeremy Currin), Daugther
- Kylie Ardelean (Veronica Cuenca), Daughter
- Jean Shook, Mother
- Jim Shook, Stepfather (deceased)
- Sandra McCauley, Mother-in-law
- Scott is remembered by his grandchildren Jayci Martin, Zoey Martin, Mazzy Benno, Indy Benno, Charlie Benno, Dariel Cuenca, Tara Russell, Emma Russell, Liam Currin, and Eva Currin; and two doting cockapoos, Stormy and Willow; as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends and family too numerous to list but not forgotten.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Scott James Snelson
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May 19, 2021
I will forever cherish the memories we made together and the amazing advice you always gave. I'm going to try my best to take care of mom like you always told me to do, okay? I love you dad. Miss you.
May 13, 2021
I cant believe your gone. I know you would not want us to dwell in the pain but there is a hole now that only you could fill. I will always remember your talent of making everyone you came in contact feel special. You were a great listener and a great friend. Your random acts of kindness never went unnoticed. I was blessed to have you as my brother in law. I will miss you beyond what words can convey.
May 11, 2021
My friend, my brother, my golf partner. How does one process when such a friend is gone? Will the memories of your laughter, your generosity, your guidance, your wit, your sarcasm, your smile, your eyes lighting up when the USA was on the pitch, Danny, Christy, Sammy, Jayla, Kylie and MOST OF ALL LesLee assuage our loss? Perhaps I’ve nailed it on the head. Just giving my grief that exposure answered my own questions. I’m less “lost”, less devastated, because I’ve recognized those are the memories that will sustain my self and your loved one’s because of your energy, guidance, acceptance and unconditional love bro. You were a friend whom I will cherish until we meet again. I will miss you always Scottie.
May 11, 2021
To the Snelson Family,
I was so heartbroken when I heard of Scott's passing. Scott was a kind and generous man and I will truly miss him. I am a better person and teacher because of Scott's influence in my life.
I first met Scott when I was sent to Roy High School to job shadow an exemplary teacher, Scott Snelson. We remained friends and colleagues on many educational committees over the years.
Scott was always there for me and all of the Health Science teachers with encouraging words and exceptional leadership. He set the example for us to follow.
We are all blessed to have known Scott.
May 10, 2021
To Scott's Family,
The world has been blessed because of this good man and my life has been blessed because I knew him.
Scott Snelson was the "new" State Health Science Specialist the first year I became a teacher. We were greenies together. I cannot express the love and gratitude I have for Scott. He was my mentor and guided me through those difficult times transitioning into the teaching profession. He listened to my concerns and coached me with patience and kindness. Through the years, he provided me with multiple opportunities to be involved and helped me grow professionally. I will always remember the day I called and asked him a difficult question. His answer, "Do what is best for students!" In that moment I became a teacher. I understood what was truly important because he understood it.
The influence of a good man cannot be measured. Scott was one in a million and his influence will live on in the lives of those he touched.
May you be blessed through this sad time!!!
May 7, 2021
Dear LesLee and the whole Snelson Family,
I was so sad to hear about Scott's passing. I am grateful to have met him and be part of the CTE family that knows of the wonderful work he did! I am also very grateful to LesLee and their combined contribution to Education in Utah. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time of grief and sadness.
Career and Technical Education, Utah State Board of Education
May 7, 2021
Scott was a beautiful, big-hearted man. When I had the honor of visiting Danny & Mashinka in SLC and meeting the Snelson clan, many of the highlights came from Scott’s generosity in showing me around—from the remarkable school he took such pride in to the community he so deeply engaged to the profound warmth of his family and friends. I think still of the joy in just spending time with LesLee and him in their beautiful backyard, chatting the night away. There’s a big cherub smile missing in the world right now. He’ll be deeply missed. And, of course, so much of him lives on in his wife, his wonderful children, and the lives of so many that he changed for the better.
May 7, 2021
When Scott worked in USBE/CTE, there were two Scott's in CTE at the same time --- "good Scott " and "bad Scott." This Scott would obviously be the "good Scott." How could it be otherwise?? BTW, the other Scott was also top drawer :-)
Where does one begin? When I heard of his passing, I felt a wall of grief hit me --- and still does. Though my involvement with "good Scott" was not a tremendous amount, I always felt his drive for giving and being the BEST.
I wish LesLee and all others the very, very best and give you my deepest sympathies. I cannot even begin to imagine. Since I cannot, may God bless you with strength and capacity to carry this heavy load. I also wish you an incredible reunion some GREAT DAY in the future.
May 6, 2021
I love you Scott. Thank you for caring for our mom the way you did. You will always be in our heart!
Rob and Laurie Brems
May 4, 2021
We are saddened to learn of Scott's unexpected passing, yet feel fortunate to have shared in so many parts of his life. We are definitely better people for having experienced his love for people, his work ethic, his integrity and his genuine character. Scott was amazing and loved by anyone and everyone who took time to get to know him. Going to miss you buddy, especially on those warm weekdays when golfing is in order!
All our love to LesLee and the family at this sacred time.