Cover photo for Curtis Gilbert Snell's Obituary
Curtis Gilbert Snell Profile Photo
1938 Curtis 2023

Curtis Gilbert Snell

April 21, 1938 — November 9, 2023


Curtis Gilbert Snell, fondly known as Curt, passed away on Thursday, November 9, 2023, in Springdale, Arkansas, at the age of 85. Born on April 21, 1938, he was the son of Curly and Ruby (Noe) Snell. Born in his family home in Kansas, Oklahoma, Curt lived a remarkable and fulfilling life that left an indelible mark on the communities he served and the loved ones he cherished. As we celebrate his life and mourn his loss, we remember him as a dedicated businessman, a compassionate philanthropist, a brave serviceman, and above all, a loving husband, father, brother, uncle, papa, poppy, and friend to many.

Curt's professional journey was one of ambition and success. For forty years, he owned and operated Cherokee Steel Erectors, later known as Snell Construction. His expertise in the field allowed him to build numerous structures across Oklahoma and other states. Notable among these were the original bingo halls at West Siloam and Catoosa Cherokee Casinos and the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Clinic. He also constructed the Adair, Tahlequah Sequoyah, Zion, Peavine, Salina, and Kansas school gyms. His dedication to his craft was evident in every building he brought to life.
He also served in the United States Air Force from 1956 to 1960, where he was stationed in Greenland. He would often tell stories about his time in the service and the harsh negative degree weather he had to endure. Sometimes he may have over exaggerated the low temperature just a little, but he wasn't far off when he'd tell people it would get to negative 100. He loved to tell stories, even if he told you the same one five times. He liked to "pull your leg" as he liked to call it. His smile was radiantly contagious, and he could give anybody a good laugh. Though he struggled with Dementia, these things remained, his faith and love for the Lord and his family, his stubbornness and his sense of humor.

Curt built the addition to Lowery Freewill Baptist Church where he was a longtime member, as well as the fellowship hall, known as the Brian Snell building. He devoted many years to the church, attending services and church activities. He will be remembered for faithfully bringing breakfast more Sundays than not and giving his grandkids a dollar to put in the offering. 

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Curt possessed a sense of adventure that took him to all corners of the United States alongside his beloved wife, Leetha. They traveled far and wide together, creating memories that would forever be treasured. Curt's determination knew no bounds; he embodied grit, hard work, and service. Every Thanksgiving season, he would seek out families in need and generously distribute pies to them—a heartwarming act that exemplified his servant's heart.

During Christmas time, Curt made it a yearly tradition to purchase gifts for families struggling during the holiday season. His generosity brought joy to countless individuals who were touched by his kindness. Additionally, he established a tradition called "Christmas Candy money," where he donated funds to local churches for their Christmas programs. Through these gestures of goodwill, Curt's compassionate spirit shone brightly.

In his earlier years, Curt found enjoyment in various hobbies and interests. He loved riding horses and participating in team roping’s and attending Indian Rodeos through the years. Hunting also held a special place in his heart, particularly deer hunting in Colorado alongside his sons, brothers, and close friends. Curt's adventurous nature even led him to partake in rappelling off the Hard Rock in Tulsa and participating in Polar Plunges at Pigeon Creek in Kenwood every New Year's Day, as well as the Illinois River when the Special Olympics had their yearly fundraiser. 

Not only did Curt live life to the fullest, but he also dedicated himself to serving his community. From 2008 to 2018, he selflessly served on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, committing countless hours to addressing the needs of tribal families. His devotion and tireless efforts further solidified his legacy as a compassionate leader who championed those around him.

Curt's passing leaves a profound void in the lives of those who loved him. He is survived by his sons, Jerome Snell and wife Tina of Rose, OK; Terry Snell and wife Destinie of Jay, OK; Curtis Snell Jr. and wife Debra of San Antonio, Texas; daughter Renee Cochran and husband Randy of Kansas, OK; and daughter-in-law, Pam Snell of Kansas, OK. His memory also lives on through his brothers Jerry Snell and wife Cheryl of Colcord, OK; Doug Snell of Tulsa, OK; Dennis Snell of Tahlequah, OK; as well as cherished grandchildren: Alicia, Rachel, Brooke, Dustin, May, Brandon, Talia, Tiffany, Tera, Christina, Dusti, Samantha, Justin, Nathan, Caitlin, Casey, Asa, Terry Lane, Micah, and Matthew; forty great-grandchildren; and a multitude of other relatives and friends—all who feel blessed to have shared moments with this extraordinary man.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Leetha Snell; parents, Curly and Ruby Snell; son, Brian Snell; sisters, Loretta Smith, Faye Bishop, Phyllis Snell, Susie Catron, and Bertha Snell; and brother, Joe Snell.  

Funeral services for Curt will be held at 1:00 p.m., Monday, November 13, 2023, at Lowery Freewill Baptist Church with Pastor Bryson Bailey and Pastor Lance Rogers officiating. Burial will follow at the Long Prairie Cemetery with Jerry Snell, Doug Snell, Dennis Snell, Terry Snell, Curtis Snell Jr., and Jerome Snell serving as casket bearers. Honorary casket bearers include his grandsons, Dustin Snell, Justin Cochran, Nathan Cochran, Asa Snell, Micah Snell, Terry Lane Snell, Matthew Snell, and son-in-law, Randy Cochran. A visitation will be held from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., Sunday, November 12, 2023, at Shipman's Funeral Home in Pryor. To leave his family a message, please visit his guestbook at Arrangements are under the direction of Shipman’s Funeral & Cremation Service of Pryor.

Curt's passing leaves behind grief and sorrow but also gives us an opportunity to reflect on a life well-lived—a life of passion, resilience, and love. As we say our farewells to this remarkable man who touched so many lives during his time among us, may we always remember the laughter he brought to our hearts and the generosity he shared with our communities. Curt's legacy lives on through the memories we hold dear and the values he instilled in each of us. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Curtis Gilbert Snell, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, November 12, 2023

3:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

Shipman's Funeral & Cremation Center

1204 N. E. 1st St., Pryor, OK 74362

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Funeral Service

Monday, November 13, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

Lowery Free Will Baptist Church

8045 US-412 ALT, Rose, OK 74364

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Monday, November 13, 2023

2:45 - 3:45 pm (Central time)

Long Prairie Cemetery

US-412 ALT, Kansas, OK 74347

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