In the office lobby of Houston civil attorney Daniel Snooks, you'll find Western oil paintings and his framed Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas diploma — pre-Texas A&M era.
On a side table sits a triangular wooden case holding a folded 48-star U.S. flag., which once draped the casket of his grandfather, a Spanish-American War veteran.
Snooks, an Army veteran himself, appreciates history. And when it comes to the San Jacinto College Foundation's history, he played a pivotal role from the beginning.
Serving as the College's legal counsel for the last 30 years, Snooks filed the articles of incorporation that established the Foundation as a non-profit corporation.
"The Board of Trustees in 1996 was very favorable to creating a foundation," he said. "Their thought was there ought to be a scholarship for every student."
Fulfilling dreams was the Foundation's goal then and remains its goal now. A degree or workforce credential impacts not just the student but also the community and economy.
Snooks has supported this mission not only with his legal assistance to the College but also with his checkbook. Since 1996, he has donated to the Foundation annually, giving almost $128,000 total. His generosity extends to providing suits for students to wear for job interviews and nonperishables for the food market.
Between the two of them, Snooks and his wife, Margaret, a former university professor, have degrees from four universities. They value higher education but focus on San Jac when giving back.
"San Jacinto College has received the bulk of our financial support for an institution of higher education," he said.
As the College celebrates its 60th anniversary, Snooks remembers its early days. Then a University of Houston law student, he accepted a clerk position in Pasadena attorney Thomas Lay's office. Another local lawyer, Stanley Baskin, was involved in litigation to maintain the College as a viable district when some citizens wanted to withdraw from the taxing district.
Those in favor outweighed those against in what local papers dubbed "the second battle of San Jacinto." Snooks calls the community "innovative and forward-thinking" in creating the College.
"San Jac has provided opportunities for graduates of six school districts who may not have had the opportunity to attend a major four-year university because of grades or finances," he said. "As a college, it is very efficient in the formative education of our young high school graduates."
While practicing law, Snooks served as an adjunct real estate instructor at San Jac in the 1980s before becoming its legal counsel in 1991. He is proud of every moment with San Jac — from working with trustees and chancellors behind the scenes in board executive sessions to attending Foundation golf tournaments and galas.
The Foundation gives everyone an opportunity to give the gift of education — from alumni to companies that want to help their employees and employees' children, Snooks said.
"It gives this medium for people of the community to give contributions to a school they attended," he said. "But it's also important that they're giving to a specific purpose: the education of the youth in their community."
For Snooks, the rest is history.