Baker City, Oregon

Thomas Steele, 86, of Baker City, died July 4, 2003, at his home.

His funeral will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Sister Kay Marie Duncan of Pathway Hospice will officiate.

There will be a reception afterward at 990 Park St.

Visitations are today until 8 p.m. at Gray’s West & Co., 1500 Dewey Ave. Disposition is by cremation at Gray’s West Pioneer Crematory.

Thomas’ move from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Baker Valley was inspired by his brother-in-law and he drew straws with his wife, Evelyn, to determine if they would stay or go.

She drew the short straw, so they packed up and headed West in 1941.

His many years of hard work included being a mechanic at the Ford Garage, driving oil tanker during World War II for Silver Eagle, owning and operating logging trucks, running heavy equipment at the lime plant and mining for Tony Brandenthaler at Virtue Flat.

His spare time was spent fishing and gardening with friends and family or mining a claim near Hereford he inherited from a friend.

Thomas spent countless hours helping raise his family. His unconditional love, his endless patience in teaching a grandchild or neighbor child to fish, mechanic, pan for gold or garden were his greatest gifts and his greatest pleasures.

There was not an engine he could not make run better or a child he could not make smile brighter. May his memory be eternal.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Evelyn Steele of Baker City; brothers, William Steele and Charles Steele, both of South Dakota, and Wesley Steele of Wyoming; daughter and son-in-law, Shirley and Ken McPheron of Baker City; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews in Oregon and South Dakota.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Minnie Steele; brother, Leo Steele; sister, Dolly Caldwell; daughter, Marilyn Carr; and grandson Robert Carr.

Memorial contributions may be made to Pathway Hospice through Gray’s West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.

Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, July 11, 2003
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor