Joan Elizabeth Montgomery Snyder (1930- 2024) died peacefully at home on Monday, June 3rd. She was the daughter of Clarence (Mac) Montgomery and Thelma Elizabeth (nee, Wilson). Born in Berwin, Illinois, she grew up in multiple cities and states. She finished high school in Connecticut and worked there and in Washington, D.C., and Jacksonville, Florida.

She earned a pilot’s licence while still in Connecticut and became a member of the Civil Air Patrol serving in Connecticut, D.C. and Florida until returning to school.  She was also a member of the 99’s, the International Organization of Women Pilots (look it up), and continued to be a trailblazer for women’s equality and advancement.

She earned a B.Sc. at Jacksonville University, and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biology, Ecology and Plant Ecology and Emory University.  She also received a post-doctorate NSF grant in microbial biology at the University of Utah. In 1973 she became the first woman Professor of Biology and related fields at Notre Dame University College, Nelson, BC. She was an instructor in Biology and Wildland Recreation at Selkirk College from 1976-1980. She was the first female instructor in Biology, Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science at Grande Prairie Regional College from 1981-1998 and Adjunct Professor in Forestry at the University of Alberta from 1989-1997. She was awarded Instructor Emeritus status by Grande Prairie Regional College when she retired.  The courses and labs she taught, and especially the field courses that she led, inspired generations of students to pursue their own academic and professional interests in Biology, Botany, Environmental Planning and the welfare of Mountain Caribou.

She did extensive research on the effects of radiation and climate on lichen growth as well as the significance of lichen as an indicator of biodiversity and mountain caribou survival. She is the author of more than two dozen professional published research papers and reports.  Much of her work was involved in the impact of different types of logging and other disturbances on lichen regeneration and stability rates in Alberta and BC forests. In 1995 she presented a paper on the role of mycorhizae in ecosystem stability, which is now familiar due to the work of Suzanne Simard.

She was involved in extensive consultation with government agencies, forestry companies, environmental and advocacy groups. She served on the Alberta Environment Council as Chair of the Public Advisory Committee on the Environment (and was labeled without being personally identified as an eco-terrorist by then Premier Ralph Klein, a badge she wore with honour) and worked with Friends of West Kootenay Parks Society to maintain interpretive programs at Kokanee Creek Park Visitor Centre. In the last two decades of her life, building on a lifetime of research and knowledge, she passionately advocated for the preservation of Mountain Caribou. She served on the Executive of BC Nature as Chair of the Education Committee and later was elected as Representative from the West Kootenay Naturalists. She was a member of the BC Nature Environment Committee and represented BC Nature on the BC Caribou Recovery Committee and was President of the West Kootenay Naturalists Association. She also served as a member of the Castlegar and District Hospital Foundation.

She leaves behind her partner and husband of nearly fifty years Vincent Salvo and daughter Carol, her husband Bruce and grandchildren Jason and Jessica Fritzke. As well, she leaves behind: stepsons Joseph Salvo, his partner Lyn Luu and grandchildren Kim and Vu; Anthony Nadeau and his sons Connor and Jack and stepdaughter Noelle Nadeau-Khoo, her husband Dr. Kong Khoo and their son Oliver. She is also survived by grandson Joshua, son of stepson Patrick Salvo who died in July, 2023. She also leaves behind a legacy of students, colleagues and collaborators with whom she had close relationships.

Following Joan’s wishes, there will be no ceremony or formal celebration of her life. Anyone looking to recognize Joan’s life and contributions, please do NOT send flowers. Instead, contribute to the environmental or community group of your choice. Joan’s would be the BC Naturalists Foundation, the West Kootenay Naturalists, or Castlegar and District Hospital Foundation.