Bill and Jeanne Steele
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William Henry Steele

Bill at his college graduation.

Bill, “Billy”, Steele was the baby boy with three much older sisters: Helen, Jean and Ruth. Little Billy was the only son of Presbyterian minister John Calvin Steele and Bertha Taylor Steele. He was always exhorted to “study his Latin.” Sadly, his chemistry would have been much more useful at Carnegie Tech where he studied Civil Engineering (and played on the football team).

Wendy wearing Bertha Taylor's wedding gown. When Linda and Randy get back from Alaska, we hope to get some actual pictures of Rev. and Mrs. Steele to add.

Bertha was the daughter of an immigrant from England. Her father Henry started working in the coal mines at age 6 and could only go to school at night. Although he was never able to finish school himself, he made sure that after immigrating to the U. S., all of his children received college educations. Bertha graduated with a B. A. in education. Her sister Ann graduated from Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia (now Pennsylvania Medical College where a building is named for her) and had a thriving obstetrics practice. It was no surprise that Bertha’s three daughters and 5 granddaughters all obtained college degrees, one of her daughters and 2 granddaughters even earned graduate degrees.

Little Billy grew into Bill Steele, an introverted engineering type. He was sharing an apartment in Pittsburgh with his sister Ruth who was working as personal secretary to the CEO of Heinz. One day a lovely, gregarious, young nursing student at Margaret Mellon (Carnegie Tech’s sister school) caught Bill’s eye. Through shear persistence, he finally convinced her to go on a date with him. Some 55 years later they are still together. They have 5 daughters (Donna, Brenda, Linda, Barb, and Mart), 9 granddaughters, 2 grandsons, 1 great-grandson, and 1 great-grandson on his way (that would be Isaac, of course).

After a lot of moving around while Bill worked on the railroad in the early years, the Steeles settled in Beaver, PA to raise their family. In 2002, however, they moved to Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community in Cranberry Twp, PA. We're sure that Bill is glad right now that he doesn't have any steps to climb...he fell and fractured his leg on Aug. 8.

Jeanne Eleanor Hecht Steele

Jeanne at her college graduation.

Jeanne was the tag-along baby of Charles and Henrietta Hecht. In fact, her nieces and nephews weren’t much younger than she. Jeanne grew-up in Pittsburgh surrounded by oodles of siblings and nieces and nephews. One day Henrietta read in the newspaper about a new institution being started in Pittsburgh by Andrew Carnegie. It was a college where the children of steel workers could get an education. (Carnegie Mellon has progressed rather far away from these humble beginnings. They might do well to remember the reason for their founding.) Henrietta decided she was going to see to it that her children all went to college—even her two daughters.

Jeanne graduated with a degree in nursing and eventually married Bill Steele. Unlike Bill, Jeanne was a real socialite. She spent the first few years of her marriage trying to get him to join social groups like the Kiwanis. Finally, Bill told her, “Honey, I didn’t get married so I could spend all day with a bunch of men and then go spend my evenings with them, too.”

Jeanne stopped nursing to raise her 5 daughters, then went back to work. By the time Wendy came along, she was director of nursing at Jewish Home in Pittsburgh. After a few years of retirement, she and Bill got restless and began a decade-long series of hospital building projects first in Zaire and then in Kenya.


Jeanne's mother Henrietta at her wedding in 1902.