By MADOLINE MARKHAM
Sperry Snow loved Mountain Brook and he loved its people.
“He was a go-to guy in any room,” said Charlie Regan Jr., a friend and customer. “He knew everyone at a party and made everyone feel special. You wanted to be his friend, and you wanted him involved in your endeavor.”
Snow, 63, co-owner of Barton-Clay Jewelers in Mountain Brook Village, passed away on August 17. A memorial service was held at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church on August 22.
“When you have a visual image of him, you always see that smile,” said Jacksonville State University President William Meehan. He and Snow went to Shades Valley High School and then JSU together, and Snow had remained active with fundraising for JSU. “He always believed that service completed the sale, and he practiced that in service to community and in his jewelry business.”
Snow was known for never refusing to donate for a charitable cause.
“He was probably one of the few people I have ever known that gave to everything,” said Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzan Doidge. “He didn’t just pick one or two causes. Even when I was in my 20s before I knew him well, I called on behalf of American Cancer Society, and without hesitation he offered a donation for the event I was working on.”
If you attended almost any fundraiser around town, Snow was there, and there was no doubt some auction item donated by Barton-Clay.
“When he called and asked for help for a charitable cause,” Regan said, “the answer was always yes because you knew he was giving more than he was asking for himself.”
Snow didn’t just give money and sit on boards, either.
“He was a great father and grandfather, so that spilled over to when he was at Camp Smile-A-Mile hanging out with our campers,” said Camp Smile-A-Mile Executive Director Lynn Thompson. Thompson remembered how Snow would come to be a friend to the kids and volunteers at camp. He always came armed with various monkey-themed items, the camp’s mascot, for giveaways.
After years in the jewelry business, in 1987 Snow and Eric McLain opened Barton-Clay, naming the business after their middle names. The store quickly became known as an extremely customer-oriented business just as Snow intended it to be. They moved to their Mountain Brook Village location in 1995.
“He treated you with the same respect if you were buying the most expensive thing in the store or a watch battery,” said Martha Gorham, a friend and customer.
There are countless stories where a customer had a budget less than the cost of an engagement ring or other piece, but Snow somehow made the numbers add up.
For Snow, his customers were his friends and his friends his customers.
“There was not a piece of jewelry I would not buy from him,” Regan said. “He knew my wife’s taste better than I did. He was always actively interested in you, your family and your grandkids when you came to the store.”
Regan also spent time at Barber Motorsports Park with Snow, who was a firearms enthusiast and loved to talk about cars, especially his old Triumph.
An Auburn fan, Snow always made sure his daughter, Carrie Snow Cearlock, and grandchildren, James and Hudson, had tickets to see the Tigers play, and he invited his friends to stay at his home on Lake Martin after the games.
Beyond his business and sportsmanship, Snow was instrumental to the business community in Mountain Brook.
“He was a strong supporter of not just his business but the businesses surrounding him in our community,” said former Chamber president Alice Womack.
When the Chamber of Commerce was trying to raise support for the Legends of Motorsports in Mountain Brook Village, Snow raised $8,000 by auctioning off a Rolex—all without prodding from any other person.
Whenever anyone in the business community had a crazy idea for something new, Snow would listen and help make it happen. If he thought it was a good idea and put himself behind it, it would work.
It was Snow who was also instrumental in starting the Chamber of Commerce and served as one of its first presidents.
Snow will be missed at Barton-Clay, at charitable events to come, at Bottega and Highlands Bar and Grill, where he was always to be found, but his memory will live on in the stories so many have to tell of his giving, fun-loving spirit.
Snow’s family has requested that memorial contributions be made to Children’s Harbor, 1600 6th Ave S., Birmingham, Ala. 35233 or to the charity of your choice.