James Albert Schnaars, 90, insurance executive and nationally ranked tennis player

James A. Schnaars
James A. Schnaars
Posted: October 10, 2012

James Albert Schnaars, 90, formerly of Haverford, an insurance executive who was a nationally ranked tennis player in his youth, died Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Dunwoody Village in Newtown Square.

A native of Congers, N.Y., Mr. Schnaars graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.

During World War II, he served in the Army in Panama.

After his discharge, he earned a bachelor's degree from Haverford College and then joined Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co.

He was recalled to the Army during the Korean War and did a tour of duty in Florida before returning to Provident. When he retired in the late 1980s, he was managing Provident's home office at 46th and Market Streets. For several years after retiring, he worked as a financial adviser.

A lifelong tennis player, Mr. Schnaars competed in the New York State Tennis Championships when he was 18. He later competed in the U.S. Open, the Pan American Championship, the Middle States Clay Courts Tournament, and numerous other meets.

In 1949, he was defeated in Round 2 of the U.S. National Indoor Championships by the tennis great Pancho Gonzales. In 1960, he was defeated at the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Meet by Rod Laver, who was ranked the No. 1 player in the world from 1964 to 1970.

Mr. Schnaars continued to play tennis into his 80s at Merion Cricket Club, his son Robert said.

Since 1945, he had been married to Sylvia Dunmore Schnaars. They met when he was competing in a tennis tournament in Utica, N.Y.

"Dad worshipped our mother, adored his children, and greatly loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren," his son said. "He was probably happiest when his entire family gathered for vacations in Kitty Hawk, N.C."

Mr. Schnaars raised money for the Easter Seals Foundation and the Arthur Ashe Foundation.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by sons James Jr. and Richard; a daughter, Mary Otto; 10 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave.

Donations may be made to the Hotchkiss School, 11 Interlaken Rd., Lakeville, Conn. 06039.

Contact Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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