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Ex-Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Chairman, Wife Found Dead

Charles Snelling's family says he ended his wife's life and then took his own

Charles Snelling, who served on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for nearly a decade, and his wife, Adrienne, were found dead in their Fogelsville, Pa., home on Thursday morning, according to multiple Patch sources in local Pennsylvania politics.

Snelling was a prominent GOP activist and businessman who served as chairman of the board in 2010 and 2011.

Adrienne suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

"After apparently reaching the point where he could no longer bear to see the love of his life deteriorate further, our father ended our mother's life and then took his own life as well," according to a statement released by the family Thursday evening, WFMZ-TV reports.

Both were 81. The Snellings are survived by five children and 11 grandchildren.

President George W. Bush nominated Snelling to serve on the authority's board of directors in 2003.

Timothy Hennessey, aide to Pennsylvania state Sen. Bob Mensch, called Charles Snelling  "a visionary, an entrepreneur and a friend to us all."

"Their legacy will endure through their generous commitment to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest College, and many other organizations. My thoughts and prayers are with the Snelling family and all those who know Charlie and Adrienne," he told Patch.

Police and the Lehigh County coroner's office have so far declined to identify the victims pending notification of next of kin. The bodies were found around 9 a.m.

Snelling took part in the "Life Report" project of New York Times writer David Brooks. A Dec. 7, 2011, entry called "A Love Story and Redemption," told how the Snellings came to terms with Adrienne's Alzheimer's diagnosis six years ago.

Their romance of more than 60 years began when Charles was a sophomore at Lehigh University and Adrienne was a student at Cedar Crest College.

The Times article quoted Charles as saying, "Although (Adrienne) is a very, very sick puppy, she remains to this day a sweet, happy, loving and generous person. How lucky for both of us. To have such an affliction in the household is a very learning experience... After all, this lady rescued me from a fate worse than death, and for a long, long time. What I am doing for her pales beside all that she has done for me for more than half a century."

Snelling founded a company called Cryotherm and held 20 patents.

Cherie Lejeune March 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Recommend reading the NYT “A Love Story and Redemption” for now that these two lives are over, it was clearly a planned, self penned obituary. Snelling controlled his and his wife’s life stories which after reading, I was reminded of all the living, loving and contributing back you can accomplish in 80 years. I will not debate his final act, just simply say RIP Charles and Adrienne Snelling.
Laura C. March 30, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Meaning no disrespect to the Snelling family. . . this tremendous act of love and courage seems out of place in this century. Why, as a society, do we only offer our pets a gentle, non-violent death? Imagine if there were managed options for end of life decisions. Sign me up! My condolences to the Snellings in this time of sorrow and relief.
Leslie Perales Loges March 30, 2012 at 07:24 PM
What an absolutely heartfelt story, Cherie. Definitely worth reading. What a look into their lives. http://brooks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/the-life-report-charles-darwin-snelling

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