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CHUCK SNOWDON 1941 - 2023

A Scottish Country Dance

Tribute to Chuck Snowdon

This past weekend we lost the mainstay of Madison Scottish Country Dancers, Chuck Snowdon, due to covid and pneumonia. He was devoted to our group and contributed his many talents to its smooth running. Chuck was one of our earliest members, joining in the late 1970s and obtaining his Royal Scottish Country Dance Society teaching certificate a few years later. His Scottish country dance teaching spanned five decades. Some of us tried our first pas de basques at his University of Wisconsin-Extension classes in the 1980s, and he taught our most recent members in the fall 2022 Madison School and Community Recreation adult beginner class. He especially enjoyed drawing new students into our cult, but he also was part of the regular teaching rotation for Sunday night classes.

Barb Samdahl recalls her first class with Chuck, commenting on how encouraging he was to all: “In those classes he emphasized not just correct footwork but the friendship and goodwill we show to our fellow dancers.  ‘Look at your partner.’  ‘Acknowledge your partner and neighbors.’  ‘Smile.’ ” He mentored new teaching candidates and praised aspiring musicians, working tirelessly to ensure that our traditions thrived. He devised a number of dances in honor of some of our dancers, creatively including their personalities, dance styles, and favorite figures. 

Despite his demanding academic life as a distinguished University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor, Chuck was instrumental in organizing special events for our group and the wider community. He encouraged us to think big, and was delighted to spearhead bringing the talents of Jean Redpath, Alasdair Fraser, and Natalie Haas to Madison to help spread his love of Celtic culture. At every Burns Supper he could be counted on to vibrantly recite a favorite poem in his Scottish brogue, and to wink at the line “Amang the rigs wi' Annie.” 

Given his generosity, his cheerful personality, and his lively mind, Chuck was the ideal host. He and his wife Ann were frequent entertainers and enjoyed offering their lovely home to every traveling musician or visiting dancer. We looked forward to their after-ball parties, board meetings, pool-side potlucks, and house concerts, hoping that Chuck would be serving another one of his delectable treats. Mmmmm, his brandy-soaked trifle! He was so hospitable that he passed on his old Mills Street apartment to two Scottish country dancers, who then passed it on to a third.

There's no way that we can replace our dear devoted Chuck, so we will simply remember the good times. We can  just hear him at the end of “Auld Lang Syne” with his voice warm and clear shouting “Hip, hip, hooray!”  Enjoy these photos of Chuck, and feel free to add your own.

Our hearts go out to Ann and their families. We will let you know of any memorial plans as they develop.  Address:  Ann Lindsey, 218 Saratoga Circle, Madison, WI  53705

—Nancy McClements for Madison Scottish Country Dancers, January 12, 2023

Obituary at Cress Funeral Service

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Remembering Chuck Snowdon

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Chuck's Favorite Dances

List with instructions and videos 

  • Adieu Mon Ami

  • Delvine Side

  • J B Milne

  • Luckenbooth Brooch

  • Over the River to Charlie

  • Wynd on Loch Fyne

Dances Written by Chuck

 List with instructions and videos (where available)

  • Ann Lindsey's Strathspey   S32 3/4L   MSCD Dances

  • The Byrnes' Reel   R32 4S   MSCD Dances

  • Champagne Toast   32 4/4L   (with Ann Lindsey) Chicago 25th Anniversary Collection

  • Constant Companions   S32 3/4L  MSCD Dances

  • Miss Nancy Smiles   J32 3/4L   MSCD Dances

  • The Muirland Briggses   M32 3/4L 

  • No L's Strathspey   S32 3/4L  Chicago 25th Anniversary Collection

  • Passing Place   J32 4/4L  MSCD Dances