James T. Steele
July 10, 1928 – March 19, 2020
Jim Steele left this world Thursday, March 19, 2020 after 91 years of a life well lived. He enjoyed a long life, gave happiness to those around him, was humble, enjoyed laughter and always considered others before himself. As an early member of Broadmeadow United Methodist Church for over 60 years, he was of strong faith and led by example, an example of the best to us all.
He was born to Doddridge Hopkins Steele and Wille Mae Jones in the small lumber town of Shuqualak, MS in 1928 and had many colorful childhood stories. His mother claimed that he was actually born on July 16, but his certificate states the 10th, a hand written error in those days. He never minded the uncertainty this caused because it simply gave his family the opportunity to serve him birthday cake twice each year.
With a pharmacy degree from Ole Miss, he met and married the love of his life Lucile “Cile” Shipp from Yazoo County in 1950 and settled there with his first pharmacy job where his daughter Cindy was born. Two years later daughter Danette was born in Del Rio, Texas where he had a brief, memorable military career at Laughlin AFB…there were also many stories.
Around 1955 he and Cile moved to Jackson and his pharmacy career grew with the city. He joined with Patterson Rexall resulting in a string of neighborhood soda fountain pharmacies. His first was on North State Street across from the Baptist hospital, next to Primos Bakery, much to the delight of his daughters. As Jackson grew further out, a new Meadowbrook Mart Shopping Center was the site of his next neighborhood drugstore and later around 1960 he opened with the Pattersons at the new Highland Village Shopping Center, sandwiched between the A&P grocery store and Old Tyme Delicatessen. It was here he became a neighborhood fixture…and there were many stories.
In 1971 he joined the Mississippi Medicaid Commission where he served for 24 years. He enjoyed traveling the state to drugstores often run by his past schoolmates. And there were many stories. He had a celebrated career and retired in 1995 from the state and then got down to some serious fishing. He found beauty driving across the state, “all you had to do was look out the window for it.” With his passion for fishing, he tried to “wet a hook" in every Mississippi pond but his love was Cile’s home place pond in Yazoo County where many people have shared his passion there with him. That was his standard invitation to everyone he met,” come on up to the pond with me and fish.”
He lost the love of his life, Cile, in 2011 but fortunately had his three girls to fill the gap, daughters Cindy Barnett and Danette Jones, and granddaughter Anna Leigh Barnett Lee. He continued an active life, fishing, traveling, and had many friends young and old, a surrogate dad and granddad to many. He was fortunate to remain in his home especially during his last year with the selfless decision of Anna Leigh and husband, Kenny, to move in with him. She provided ‘Gramps’ not only with the best care but they enriched each other with joy everyday, sharing birdhouse projects and gardening. They grew a beautiful ending. He often commented how lucky he was to have his three girls to love and take care of him, but we were the lucky ones.
He is greatly missed by Cindy Barnett and husband Bill, Danette Jones and husband Earle, Anna Leigh Barnett Lee and husband Kenny, sister-in-law Ruth Ann Steele, cousins, nieces and nephews from Alabama to Thailand and fromYazoo County to China, all too numerous to name.
In these uncertain times we must face our loss at social distance but we will one day come through this pandemic and at the first ray of sunshine will unite and celebrate his life with many stories remembered. Until then, in lieu of flowers, please send memorials to Broadmeadow United Methodist Church, which was dear to his heart, 4419 Broadmeadow St., Jackson, MS 39206.
- He is greatly missed by Cindy Barnett and husband Bill, Danette Jones and husband Earle, Anna Leigh Barnett Lee and husband Kenny, sister-in-law Ruth Ann Steele, cousins, nieces and nephews from Alabama to Thailand and fromYazoo County to China, all too numerous to name.
- Private Graveside Service Tuesday, March 24, 2020
James T. Steele
April 5, 2020
What can I say that hasn't already been spoken about my pass employer, friend, buddy, confidant😔. Ya'll see, I caretook of him for many years and the bond we cultivated/shared were missed as I had relocated, yet we managed to stay in touch reminiscing about gardening, music, family parties, shopping. Heeey! not to mention the FOOD! Man he loved my cooking!!!that Soulful New Orleans cuisines!
Tears flows😢 as I think about how much he love his children. Not to mention his puppies (Sophie)!
I was blessed/privied to see the many hats he wore in a perfect balance that wasn't afforded to many, such as a husband, father, friend, neighbor, uncle and proud gramps. I seen them all. I'm so proud to say, his feelings was brilliantly genuine! Ya see y'all, I seen the real man!!! and he loved you all!
Well guys, one can write a book of all his loving ways that I'm honored not only to speak of but mostly was a part of. May Jehovah God bless you all!!!
March 28, 2020
I went to work at Medicaid in 1977, right out of Law School. I worked as an Investigator while studying for the Bar Exam. Jim welcomed me warmly and became a great friend and mentor of mine. We traveled a lot together working cases, in his little gray Buick. He taught me a lot about life by just being around him, as we sat side by side, riding down the road to our next case. One time when I was in charge of the map, we ended up mistakenly in Cuba, Alabama. We shared a great laugh about my map reading skills, and would often pick at each other about it as our paths would still cross in Jackson many years late after I had passed the Bar Exam, and left Medicaid. Jim is one of the good guys I look forward to seeing again in Heaven. My life has been richly blessed in so many ways by having met Jim Steele!
March 24, 2020
Gladys and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family for their loss.
We were privileged to know and love Jim for more than thirty years.
He was one of the kindest, likable, genuine persons that we have had the good fortune to know. Jim was not only a special friend, but was more like family. To say that we will miss him is an understatement. We had hoped to visit him as soon as our travel limitations would allow. Since that is no longer possible, we can only say Jim , rest in peace dear friend. We know that we will meet again, so until then, we will cherish your memory.
Joe and Gladys Hicks
March 24, 2020
So many incredibly fond memories of Uncle Jim.
He was a father figure to me practically all my life. I could always count on his thoughtful conservations, guidance , counsel, and most of all love.
Always will cherish our fishing trips to the pond and working with Uncle Jim in his yard. My uncle loved his flowers and lawn!
I also remember having the opportunity to travel with him through the Mississippi backroads when he would call on small town pharmacies.
It was there I saw his gift of kindness to all. Everyone who ever met my Uncle Jim was blessed by his sincerity, humor and
I loved him dearly...