Joan C. Steele of Kalamazoo, MI The world lost someone who loved life beyond measure, with the peaceful passing of Joan Christoph Steele, 91, (Kalamazoo, Michigan) on October 11, 2017, from natural causes. Known as "Chris," she had a variety of interests: art history, biographies, novels, music, dogs, birds and gardening. Above all, throughout her life, this vivacious woman relished interacting with people. As the only child of Marie Kunce and "Sag" Christoph, she was born into a large extended family in Mishawaka, Indiana, and as a little girl, she played with her many cousins at her grandmother's family dinners and holiday parties. She loved going to camp every summer, first at Camp Eberhart and then at Camp Mishawaka, where she eventually became the waterfront director. In high school, Chris was part of a group of twelve good friends who called themselves the Weejees, and her father would signal his approval of boyfriends by inviting them to his proverbial "hamburger roast." Chris attended Indiana University in Bloomington, where she received a B.A. in History and was elected president of her sorority. She married Frank Steele, her high school sweetheart, six months after she graduated. This strong marriage would last 69 years and become the centerpiece of her life. Chris was an affectionate wife who provided generous support for Frank as he excelled in medical school and completed his internship and residency. During those years, she taught elementary school in Indianapolis and completed her M.A. in Education at Butler University. As Frank was completing his duty in the navy, they lived in Colorado and California, eventually settling in Muncie, Indiana, where Frank entered private practice and Chris brought up their four children. She introduced her son and three daughters to travel and adventure as well as the pleasure of meeting interesting people and discovering more about the world. She arranged enrichment in French, music, art and sports and took charge of all the family pets, which included five dogs, a cat and a duck, over the years. Each autumn, after asking what they wanted to be for Halloween, she created amazing Halloween costumes that fulfilled the wishes of her kids. Like her mother Marie, Chris was organized and practical, managing the household efficiently. Like her father Sag, she made sure her children had fun and knew how much she loved them. When the family lived in Muncie, Chris made lasting friendships through her bridge club and sometimes traveled with those friends to Boyne Mountain to ski. In 1963, Chris and Frank took an ocean liner across the Atlantic and spent six weeks seeing Europe, which was the first of many trips to explore different countries and cultures. When her children were older, Frank accepted a research fellowship in infectious disease at Northwestern Medical School for two years. So the family moved to the north shore of Chicago, and Chris found a job to supplement their income. After the fellowship ended, the family settled in Kalamazoo, and Frank returned to private practice. Chris became a leader in her new hometown, serving at different times as president of the Delta Gamma Alumni, president of the Kalamazoo Medical Auxiliary and president of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League. She played tennis and golf regularly and joined a garden club, two book groups and a needlepoint circle. After Frank retired, they spent part of each year in Destin, Florida, enjoying the beautiful white beaches with friends from all over the United States. They took up serious birdwatching in Florida, Michigan and Texas. In Kalamazoo Chris studied Spanish and volunteered at a local elementary school to help kids who were struggling. As lifelong learners, she and Frank took computer classes at the local community college. She also learned to keep a spreadsheet as she organized the Presbyterian Church's Christmas sale of five colors of poinsettias every year. Later in life, Chris and Frank moved to Friendship Village, where she was active and involved. Here, she created pottery, participated in Wii bowling, played in the kitchen band and organized a monthly sing-a-long. She also prepared and delivered a talk on the Italian renaissance for other residents, complete with a PowerPoint presentation. At Friendship Village, Chris made many friends, and in her last years, conversation, love and hugs held special meaning. Chris spent almost every summer of her life at the cottage that her grandfather had built in 1910 on Diamond Lake in Cassopolis, Michigan, and she loved to sit on the front porch overlooking the water. The years that her only son Tom suffered from schizophrenia broke her heart, and it was difficult when he died several years ago. But she worked hard on his obituary, and the family held a homemade funeral in their boat in the middle of the lake and scattered Tom's ashes over the water. After her 90th birthday party, she and Frank celebrated by changing into their bathing suits and swimming the crawl, and she stood on her hands in the water as her family watched from the pier. One by one, all her daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren jumped in with their clothes on, to join Chris, in her beloved Diamond Lake. Like others who grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, Chris was not given to deep introspection or questioning. Instead, she marched forward and savored her experiences; hers was a life full and well lived. In her final months, Chris became a role model for her family by facing death with ample grace and no fear. Surviving Chris are many friends and family members, who cherished and now miss her, including her husband Frank; her daughters, Kathleen (Joe), Kerri (Steve) and Jane (Peter); and her grandchildren, Eva (Derya), Andrew, Lucy, Cameron and Justine. A celebration of Chris's life will be held at Friendship Village at 7 on Saturday, October 28. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts or Edison Elementary School.