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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lloyd Snelson, who earned the moniker "Mr. Hornet" for his passion for Sacramento State athletics, passed away on Sunday, June 23. Snelson was 78.

"Lloyd was a great friend and will be greatly missed," Sacramento State Director of Athletics Terry Wanless said. "He had a long history and helped immeasurably to make Hornet athletics a special place for our student-athletes and the community."

Snelson's relationship with Sacramento State spanned nearly 59 years. He was one of 66 players on the first Hornet football team in the fall of 1954 — coming to the young university after graduating from Corning High School and Shasta Community College. He played fullback and linebacker on a team which featured just three players over 200 pounds.

After a winless first season, Snelson sealed the Hornets' first victory in program history with an extra point against Southern Oregon which capped a 7-6 win. A popular figure on campus, Snelson turned down an offer to run for ASI president but was secretly placed on the ballot as head cheerleader by a friend. Despite not campaigning for the position, he was elected and led cheers throughout the basketball season.

Snelson graduated with a degree in education in 1957 before spending two years in the Navy where he also played football. He returned to a long career in education which began as an elementary school teacher in Elk Grove in 1960. He moved to Mira Loma High School as a PE instructor before making the jump to administration. In that role, he was a principal at La Sierra, Rio Americano and Bella Vista high schools before retiring in 1993.

A supporter of Sacramento State throughout his 24 years as a principal, Snelson was named the president of the Stinger Foundation in 1995. During his first season in the position, he helped generate support for the referendum that kept the Hornet football program alive. He was inducted into the Sacramento State Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Snelson maintained a passion for Hornet athletics throughout his life as heard through his answering machine message of "You've reached Lloyd the Hornet." One of his last contributions to the program was a generous gift which established an endowment for Hornet football in 2011.

A celebration of life service will take place on Tuesday, July 2, from 1-4 p.m. in the Alumni Center.