Thursday, July 26, 2018
11:00 AM EDT
Standale Reformed Church
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Humane Society of West Michigan
3077 Wilson Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Wounded Warrior Project
PO Box 758517
Topeka, KS 66675-8517
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Leon Steele, it is easy to see his ability to find joy in all things. He experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made these things so extraordinary was sharing them with his family and friends. Leon was a loving husband and devoted father, and he was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren he treasured. He could be a bit stubborn and opinionated at times, but he was sure to avoid conflict anytime it arose. Leon was a man of many talents, but he was humble and generous towards others in all things. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
With the eyes of our nation focused overseas as WWII raged on, we were eager to put the harsh realities of war behind us. It was in early September that there was dancing in the streets as WWII finally came to an end. Just prior to this unforgettable day, there was much to celebrate in the lives of Robert Wayne and Marguerite (Sietsma) Steele as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Leon Jay on August 21, 1945, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the second of four children as he was raised in the family home alongside his brothers, Harold and Kenneth, and his sister, Ruth. His father worked as a truck driver while his mother was a homemaker.
Raised on the West Side of Grand Rapids, Leon was a young boy of his generation. He attended a one-room schoolhouse where he was the smartest one in his grade. Although it should also be said that Leon was the only one in his grade! He developed a love for the outdoors while growing up, and this remained with him for the rest of his life. It has been said that one thing Leon was particularly good at as a boy was finding mischief!
After graduating from Coopersville High School, Leon was eager for all that life had in store. He enlisted in the Navy, beginning as a Seabee and serving in Cuba. He then found an opportunity to transfer to the Air Force where he served for a few more years. Leon was then transferred to the reserve unit. He spent 40 years serving in the reserves, taking part in once a month trainings and also training for two weeks every summer. This was always something that Leon looked forward to. Truthfully, he was always a little disappointed that he didn't serve in Vietnam, and by the time Desert Storm came along he was too old to be sent overseas. Leon enjoyed his time in the service and was always very patriotic. Although he left the Navy, it has been said that his “sailor language” remained.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was Leon’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Patricia Schroeder, and they met while he was home on leave from the Air Force. They went on a blind date to a movie, and although Leon had to return to his base they kept in touch. Their love grew, and six weeks later Patricia received a ring in the mail along with an engagement letter. With the desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Leon and Patricia were married on July 22, 1966, at Standale Reformed Church. He took his bride back to Arizona with him while he finished his time on active duty. Shortly thereafter, the couple returned to Michigan and settled in Wyoming. Leon took a job with a glass company and then moved to Petoskey for a short time. When he started working for GM, they were able to move back to Grand Rapids. Leon primarily worked third shift, repairing machines at the plant. Leon always loved his job, but he retired in order to better care for his wife as her Alzheimer’s disease was progressing.
There was never anything of greater importance in Leon’s life than his loved ones. Together he and Pat welcomed three children, Scott, Kellie, and Kristin, into their hearts and home. Many of their years were spent in their home in Marne. Since they were near Berlin Raceway, Leon and his extended family were active at the raceway for several years. He loved engines and had motorcycles with his Harley-Davidson being his favorite. Leon was very handy as he could build or fix nearly anything, however, it was a bit tough to get him to work on a project. It seemed that if it wasn't on his priority list, it often didn’t get done. As a father Leon was supportive and participated in the things that he could including several band competitions. Since he was someone who didn’t like conflict, he wasn’t the disciplinarian. As a family they were members of Standale Christian Reformed Church. In 2007, Leon was deeply saddened with Pat’s death.
Over the years Leon had several hobbies, and he was often busy working on something. Racing was always a big part of his life whether he was working on cars or watching races with his family. In fact, Leon once worked in the pits for an Indy car driver, Bill Cheesbourg. He loved fishing and hunting, and when he was older he especially enjoyed pheasant hunting. Leon was a guide at the ranch in Platte, South Dakota, where he would spend about six weeks every year. He was an active member of West Walker Sportsmans Club, even serving as president of the club for a time. Leon loved shooting, and he had an impressive gun collection to show for it. Leon shot so much that he started loading his own shells to help keep the cost more reasonable. He was a dog lover, and throughout his life he had a dog by his side. Leon was particularly fond of his labrador retriever hunting dog, Cooper.
Life turned a new corner for Leon when he met a woman named Patti Lieffers through a website. Once they met, they realized how much history they shared. On March 1, 2009, they were married, and over the years they greatly enjoyed the companionship they shared with one another. Leon was always the type of person who was content with whatever he had, never really needing much. He could find the simple joy in living.
All who knew Leon would agree that there was no one quite like him. He was a very social person who could talk to anyone, and he just loved people. Leon told the most engaging stories, and they were always filled with numerous details. He fully embraced every day he was given, especially after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure about five years ago.
Described as kind, fun-loving, and personable, Leon Steele was a blessing to those around him. He was content in all things, and his zest for life was truly contagious. Leon will never be forgotten.
Leon Steele, age 72 of Tallmadge Township, passed away July 20, 2018. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Patricia; his parents Robert and Marguerite Steele; and his brother, Harold Steele. Leon is survived by his wife, Patti Steele (Lieffers / Black); children Scott Steele, Kellie & Christopher Patrick, Kristin Steele; grandchildren Britni, Zachary, Jacob and Robert Steele, Kelsey and Emmalee Patrick, Kyle (Adilene) Steele; great grandchidlren Hadley and Mason; stepson Eric & Sarah Tuinstra and their children Luke and Ben; brother, Kenneth (Mary) Steele; sister, Ruth (Tim May) Wood; sister-in-law Marcia Steele, as well as several other brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. The service to remember and celebrate Leon's life will be held on Thursday, July 26 at 11 AM at Standale Reformed Church (address). Friends are invited to visit with his family on Wednesday from 4-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. His family suggests that in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either the Humane Society of West Michigan or Wounded Warrior Project. To read more about Leon's life, to share a memory or to sign the guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com