Before becoming the chief spokesman for the president, Mr. Snow was a commentator for Fox News. He was also host of the network’s Sunday public affairs program “Fox News Sunday.” Before joining Fox, Mr. Snow was a syndicated columnist for The Detroit News and USA Today.
At the White House, he turned the daily press briefing into something of a one-man show, challenging reporters’ questions and delivering hard-hitting answers, even when he was occasionally short on the facts. More than once, Mr. Snow was forced to apologize, as he did shortly after taking the job, when he erroneously said that Mr. Bush viewed embryonic stem cell research as murder.
“He’s velvet glove and iron fist,” Jim Axelrod, the CBS White House correspondent, once said in describing Mr. Snow.
Coming into the job, Mr. Snow had credibility with the news media because, as a commentator, he had often been critical of Mr. Bush. But the transition from pundit to mouthpiece proved a tad complicated for him, as he struggled to rein himself in.
“Tony Snow broke the mold — he was a completely different kind of press secretary,” said Ann Compton of ABC News, who has covered six presidents. “For one thing, he would give you his own opinion and you’d have to say, ‘Tony, wait, I asked what the president thought.’ ”
His snappy sound bites made Mr. Snow an instant hit among Republicans — and he was not shy about breaking barriers. “It’s like Mick Jagger at a rock concert,” Karl Rove, the president’s former political strategist, once said in describing him.
During the 2006 election campaign, Mr. Snow raised eyebrows by using his celebrity to raise money for Republican candidates — something that by Mr. Snow’s own admission other press secretaries had declined to do for fear of seeming too partisan.
Mr. Snow said simply that his job was to serve the president, and that is what he intended to do.
Ms. Compton, who had been in touch with Mr. Snow in recent months, said his condition took a turn for the worse after the White House correspondents’ dinner in April. “He had a front-row seat and he looked wonderful” at the event, she said.
But he later e-mailed her to say that he had been suffering intestinal problems — “a bump in the road,” she said he called it — and that he was having a harder time than expected recovering. On June 13, while traveling in Paris with Mr. Bush, Ms. Compton received another unexpected message from Mr. Snow, who by then was quite sick, she said.
He had heard that Helen Thomas, the 87-year-old veteran White House correspondent with whom he had had some of his most pointed exchanges, was ill. “If in touch, would you please pass on my love,” Mr. Snow wrote.
Robert Anthony Snow was born in Berea, Ky., on June 1, 1955, and grew up in Cincinnati. After graduating from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1977, he spent his early career in print journalism, writing editorials for The Greensboro Record in North Carolina, The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., and other newspapers. He eventually became the editorial page editor of The Washington Times.
In 1991, he left newspapers to work as a speechwriter for the first President Bush. During the Clinton administration, he went back into journalism, and he was the first host of “Fox News Sunday” from 1996 to 2003. He was the host of a Fox News radio show when he was brought in by the current administration to replace Scott McClellan as press secretary.
Mr. Snow often said that he felt stalked all his adult life by the threat of colon cancer; his mother died of the disease when he was 17. By the time he joined the White House, he had already been treated for it; in 2005 he received a diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer, meaning the disease had spread to the lymph nodes but not to other organs. At that time, he underwent surgery to have his colon removed.
When he joined the White House, he said he believed that he had beaten his cancer. At his first White House briefing, he wore a yellow bracelet from the Lance Armstrong Foundation “because I had cancer last year,” he said, choking back tears.
The cancer recurred in March 2007, less than a year after Mr. Snow took the White House job. He underwent surgery again, took five weeks off, and returned. But he announced in September 2007 that he was resigning his $168,000 a year job — not because of the cancer, he said, but because he wanted to make more money to support his family.
He is survived by his wife, Jill, and their three children, Kendall, Robbie and Kristi, who live in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington.
Ms. Perino said Mr. Snow was the inspiration for her 2008 New Year’s resolution, which was always to take her husband’s telephone calls, no matter how busy she was at work. “We learned a lot from him — most importantly how we should love our families and treat one another,” she said. “The White House has lost a great friend.”Continue reading the main story
An obituary last Sunday about Tony Snow, the former columnist, television commentator and press secretary to President Bush, misstated, in some editions, the year that President Bush sought re-election. It was 2004 not 2006, which was the year Mr. Snow helped raise money for Republicans running in the midterm elections.
Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush’s press secretary, died of colon cancer. He was 53.
The following was apparently written by Tony a couple of years ago. What a strong testimony to the faith of one person. Oh, that we all could be this strong.
Blessings arrive in unexpected packages — in my case, cancer.
Those of us with potentially fatal diseases — and there are millions in America today — find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.
The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is — a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this — because of it — God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life — and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts — an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live — fully, richly, exuberantly — no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease — smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see — but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension — and yet don’t. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
[Rest of essay here.]