John Steele

October 14, 1932 - May 8, 2022


John Steele, beloved husband, and cherished father, left this world for heaven after a 10-year battle with dementia. Cared for by wife Leta, John remained in his family home until November 2021. He was then attended by loving staff members at Magnolia Memory Care where he passed away in his sleep.

A much-loved husband, dad, and uncle, John was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Ellion Hughes Steele and Edgar M. Steele. He attended schools in Edmond, Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon, and Texas, graduating from Purcell High School, but always considered himself an Okie. He lived over 40 years in Redwater, TX. The last of his family, John is preceded in death by his brother and best friend Loren Steele, sisters Edwina Steele and Jayne Wuerth, sister-in-law Leatha Steele and brother-in-law Walter Wuerth, daughter-in-law Dorie Steele, sister-in-law Berniece Barton and brother-in-law Bill Barton.

John met his bride-to-be, Leta Parrish, while living in Edmond, OK in 1950, where they married on September 2, 1954. He loved his in-laws Roy and Rita Parrish, appreciating their integrity, vitality, and sense of adventure. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Forestry, John was drafted by the Army to Korea as a Demolitions man, earning the rank of First Lieutenant. Daughter Sandra came along 8 days before he left for Korea. Sons Kenny and Clay joined the family within six years. Working as a forester for Dierks Forests, Inc. in Daisy and Winthrop, Arkansas, John’s duties included forest management, supplying technical advice, cruising and buying timber across Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. His knowledge of local fauna and flora was extensive, and he shared his love of nature with his children. For positions with Nekoosa Edwards Paper, he moved his family to Mena, AR then Texarkana, TX.

After his retirement, he enjoyed touring the U.S. with his wife Leta. A 47-year member of Red Springs Baptist Church, he was known for his faithfulness and strong handshake of welcome. John lived his life much like King David – a man after God’s heart. He and Leta led their families in Christ, which resulted in generations of God-fearing families.

John showed an easygoing nature and humor that characterized his days. He was unflappable no matter what came his way, and his family loved him for it. He lived his life simply and privately–his way. He raised a family and tended to his rhododendrons and azaleas and made up his own mind on life, God, history, politics and music. For music, he settled on country, favoring Merle Haggard, George Jones, Ray Price, Glen Campbell and the Eagles.

John was the kind of dad who stepped back and let his kids make their own mistakes and gave silent strength when they fell. His wry sense of humor made most things bearable. Even in his years of dementia, he made the family laugh. Family history was passed down and re-told with accuracy. Dad copied old photos and recounted stories. He gleefully told of the elderly antics of his grandfather Nat Hughes, the original Animal Whisperer. We’ll miss all these things about our dad. We will miss him, but our faith tells us we will see him again in heaven.

He is survived by wife Leta and three children, Sandra Steele Rice and husband Jonathan, Kenneth Steele and wife Sheryl, and Clay Steele. He is also survived by granddaughters Arielle Rice Gigliotti and husband Anthony, Ellion Rice Maggard and husband Chance, Doriane Steele Cavanaugh and husband Matt and Adriane Carey Steele along with grandsons Justin Steele and wife Cori and Lee Jones. His great-grandchildren include Carter Steele Cavanaugh and Isla Grace Giglotti. He is also survived by nieces Barbara Swanson, Patty Martin, Jeanne Steele, Karen Bryant and Mary Jayne Stephenson; nephews Mike, Bob and Jim Wuerth, Jerry Steele and Mike Webb.

Family and Friends are invited to join the family for a memorial service celebrating his life on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at 1:30 PM in the parlor of Highland Park Baptist Church.

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