Donald Ernest Steele
April 5, 1923 – September 7, 2021
Donald Ernest Steele, age 98, of San Diego, California passed away on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Donald was born April 5, 1923 in ND.
A memorial service for Donald will be held Sunday, October 10, 2021 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM at El Camino Memorial - Sorrento Valley, 5600 Carroll Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92121. Following the memorial service will be a committal from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM at El Camino Memorial Park, 5600 Carroll Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92121.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.sorrentovalleychapel.com for the Steele family.
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
El Camino Memorial - Sorrento Valley
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
El Camino Memorial Park
Donald Ernest Steele
Donald E. Steele of Rancho Bernardo (San Diego), California, passed away at his home September 7, 2021 at the age of 98. Donald was born April 5th, 1923, in Edgeley, North Dakota, the son of Ernest Steele and Etna Pearl Jordan Steele. He was the youngest of three brothers including Garth A. Steele and Everett J. Steele, and one sister, Evelyn O. Steele.
When he was nine months old, the family moved to Campbell, Minnesota. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the family moved again, this time to Montana. Don spent his high school years in Hamilton, Montana, playing sports and in his freshman year of high school was selected as captain of the basketball team. His leadership qualities were already emerging. Don also excelled at tennis. In that sport, he became a mixed doubles champion for Ravalli County, pairing with his wife-to-be, Evelyn Davis.
In the Fall of 1941, Don entered Whitworth College in Spokane Washington where his education was interrupted and enhanced by his call to duty during WWII. He entered the Navy in 1943 and was sent to the University of Washington for two years as part of the Navy’s V-12 Training Program and later to Cornell University for Officers Training School. While in the Navy, he was assigned to aircraft maintenance school in Memphis, TN and then to an aircraft repair base at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA. Don was then assigned to the Naval Air Station on the Island of Samar in the Philippines at the end of the War.
In June, 1946, Donald was separated from the Navy and returned to his family home in Hamilton, MT, where he was reunited with Evelyn Davis, his high school sweetheart and tennis partner. They were married in August that year in the Presbyterian Church, by Don’s brother, the Rev. Garth Steele.
Don and Evelyn returned to Seattle, WA, where he finished his degree in Mechanical Engineering, at the University of Washington in 1947. That same year, the couple moved to Milwaukee, WI, where he went to work for Allis Chalmers and attended their managerial training program. Their only son Ronald was born in Milwaukee in March, 1949, and two months later the whole family moved again to Pico Rivera, CA. Don worked in Sales and later became Sales & Marketing Manager for Allis Chalmers in their Los Angeles office. While in California with Allis Chalmers, Don was proud to have arranged for the sale of pumping equipment for the California Feather River Project, making possible the pumping of large volumes of water over the Tehachapi Mountains into Southern California. At the dedication ceremony for the pumping station, Don was honored to have met Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California. He would later meet Reagan again, when he was President of the United States.
In 1964, the family returned to Milwaukee where Don became the Division Manager of the General Products Division for Allis Chalmers in charge of Manufacture, Sales & Marketing of pumps, turbines & compressors. They remained there until 1972, when he joined Cooper Industries as President of their Cooper Bessemer Division in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He was very active in the community there and served on the boards of various local charities and local organizations, including the Kenyon Festival Theatre, the Mt. Vernon Nazarene College, Knox Community Hospital, and The First Knox National Bank. Throughout this portion of Don’s working life, he traveled extensively to Europe, Russia, the Mideast, the Far East, Mexico and Canada. He had the opportunity to once fly on the supersonic jet Concorde!
In 1984, Don retired from Cooper and he and Evelyn moved to San Diego, CA to Rancho Bernardo, Eastview neighborhood. Not quite ready to fully retire, he could not resist a call to work in a different industry and joined Wave Tech as their CEO and President for two years. Wave Tech provided equipment & designs for large wave-making recreational pools.
Thereafter, he and Evelyn dedicated themselves to a sporting and recreational life style, traveling throughout the US (including Alaska) and into Canada & Mexico by motor home. This became their passion and they shared it by visiting and traveling with family and friends, throughout the country and especially in the western states.
Throughout Don’s work life and retirement, he and Evelyn were very social. Activities they enjoyed included fishing, tennis, golf, travel, and always family. Although they were both competitive and accomplished, whether it was ping-pong or a game of Bridge, they played for the social and fun aspects of the game.
After 36 happy years of marriage, Evelyn passed away in April, 1992. Don reacquainted himself with Mt. Vernon and friends there in Ohio. He again met Thelma Jean Hachat, with whom he had worked at Cooper Bessemer, and fell in love again. Returning to Rancho Bernardo, they were married in June, 1993, and enjoyed an active and happy life together for 27 years. Together they drove many miles in the RV, sharing the experiences they had visiting many of the National Parks and sights in the Western states & Mexico.
Don was a man who earned the respect of those he met, whether family, business associates or competitors in sport. His leadership skills emerged early in high school and grew throughout his career. He lived his life according to his Christian upbringing, with kindness, honesty, generosity, humility and a deep love of and belief in God. He was steadfast, competent and independent, yet always thoughtful and helpful to others. He was mindful of his good fortune to have loving family and true friends throughout his long life. We believe that all who knew him will truly miss him.
Don was predeceased by his first wife, Evelyn Jean Davis Steele and by his second wife, Thelma Jean Hachat Steele and step-daughter, Marcia Hachat. He is survived by his son Ronald, his wife Nancy, and granddaughter, Jenelle Steele and her spouse, Casey Landau. Also, step-son, Brad Hachat and his wife Victoria, and granddaughter Sophia Hachat, and grandsons Joshua Hachat and Jeremy Hachat and three great grandchildren. Other surviving relatives include sister-in-law, Linda K. Strauch, of Eagle River, Wisconsin; nieces and nephews are Garth Steele Jr. (Judi), David Steele (Fran), Mark Steele (Cindy), Mary Steele Dunaway (Clay), Larry Steele and Jerry Steele; Tom Davis (Judy), Susan Bragg; other family, Nancy Tom (David), Greta Federico (Rick); and all of their families. Also, Laura Cronkright, a most devoted friend and caregiver.