Franklin Merle Steele
December 18, 1942 – February 28, 2021
Franklin (Frank) Steele, 78, of Yakima, passed away peacefully on the morning of Sunday, February 28th, 2021 from Lewy body dementia. Some know him as Frank, Stubby, Mr. Steele, or Coach. He was born in Chehalis, Washington to Robert and Mary Steele on December 18, 1942 and raised on a farm in Onalaska, Washington.
Most of his childhood was spent on the family farm or working in the woods for his dad’s logging company. Frank was a three-sport letterman and standout athlete in football, baseball, and basketball at Onalaska High School, graduating in 1962.
Frank spent a year after graduation to attain his barber license and cut hair at the Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. After a year of cutting hair, Frank went on to play football for the legendary coach, Jack Elway, at Gray’s Harbor Community College. Central Washington University was his next stop for collegiate athletics. Frank played two more years of football under Tom Parry who had an enormous influence over his coaching and educational journey. Frank graduated from Central with a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate in physical education.
It was at this point that Frank found his true-calling in life---working with and inspiring young adults in high schools across Washington State. Frank made teaching/coaching stops at Hoquiam and Highland High Schools before settling in at Toppenish High School. It was at TopHi where he was an integral part of Bob Winter’s football coaching staff for over a decade, culminating with a state championship in 1989. At the same time, Frank built, from the ground up, a state-recognized powerlifting program having numerous state champions, most notably, Sophia (Sophie) Trevino who became a National Powerlifting Champion. The program’s success, eventually, led to Frank being sought after to speak at national conferences throughout the United States. But more importantly, the years at TopHi allowed Frank to inspire and touch the lives of many young adults who remember the stories of Coach Steele to this day. Frank will always be a Toppenish Wildcat and wear the gray and maroon with TopHi pride.
Frank concluded his coaching and educational career sporting orange and black at Davis High School where he brought with him the same passion, tenacity, determination, grit, and love for young people that he had at Toppenish High School. He coached football and built Davis’ powerlifting program into the same powerhouse that he left at TopHi. The metal patch weight room inspired many Davis Pirates. Earning a metal patch t-shirt can be found throughout the valley---just ask a graduate from TopHi or Davis from the 1980’s through the early 2000’s; they’re worn with pride knowing Coach Steele made them work hard to earn it!
When Frank wasn’t in a gym or football field, you could find him spending his summers coaching at TBI or Stottlemyre’s Baseball camps or he was in the woods logging. There was never a day off for Frank---he worked hard and played even harder! It was during these summers that Frank developed his passion for fishing.
Frank hung up his coaching shoes, retired from teaching, and picked up a fishing pole that never was far from his grasp. He loved fishing because he could take his family, friends, and old coaching buddies out to Ilwaco, on the Columbia River, or wherever the fish were biting in Washington State. The truck, boat, and trailer were always hooked up and ready to roll out to his next destination. The stories and pictures that came from Frank’s years fishing filled his cup. He, absolutely, loved fishing! He, also, had a wild sense of humor, making those around him laugh until their stomachs hurt. Many of his stories (and there were many) would have you laughing to tears!
Throughout all of this, Frank’s number one priority was his family. Frank and Susan met in high school and later married in July of 1967 and were married 54 marvelous years! Before having children, the two were adventurous and traveled either backpacking in Europe, camping in the woods, or riding motorcycles/dirt bikes with friends. Eventually, Frank and Susan put roots down in the country, out on west Ahtanum Road (West Valley) and together they raised three children: Trent, Tori, and Timi. Frank’s oldest son, James (Jimmy) was an integral part of his life, as well. Frank was an exemplary Dad, as he was always supportive and loving. He was incredibly close with his kids and always their biggest fan. As they needed his advice or creative words of wisdom, he did so in a firm, gentle, and loving manner as they followed their dreams. Frank was an incredible role model to many throughout his life, but the ones who admired him the most shared his DNA. Being a Papa, was the highlight of his life. Frank adored his grandkids and spent countless hours making memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it was something as simple as taking them swimming in his backyard, changing irrigation pipe, spending time in the shop, or helping with the cattle, life was good with Papa! He made the most out of every minute with his grandkids and taught them how to work hard, be mentally and physically tough, but most importantly be a good person who loves others. They all have incredible memories fishing, camping, going to Willy D’s, and just hanging with their Papa---he really was the BEST PAPA EVER! Frank loved them dearly and their love for him is unmatched! Peace and hay bales, Papa...
Frank was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Mary Steele and his sister Bobbi Perkins. He is survived by his wife, Susan, four children James Scott, Trent (Cherie) Steele, Tori (Kevin) Brennan, Timi (Lincoln) Nugent, and grandchildren Riley, Sy, Tai Lyn, Marli, Seri, Jett, Carli, and Chase. The family would like to thank Highgate Senior Living for the last five years of unwavering love, patience, and care that was given to our Dad. We can never thank Highgate enough for all that was done to make our Dad’s last years content. Also, the family is grateful to Memorial Hospice for their compassionate care in the last year. Thank you for your transparency, guidance, love, and understanding. Most importantly, the family would like to recognize George Benedetti and Sophia Trevino for their compassion, love, and support as our Dad declined in his health. We know it wasn’t easy to visit and for that, we will always be grateful to each of you!
Frank left a lasting legacy and made a positive impact on this world and so many lives. He will be greatly missed by many. The family would like to invite those who were impacted by Frank to a viewing, which is scheduled for Thursday, March 4, 2021 from 4:00pm-8:00pm at Keith and Keith Funeral Home (902 W. Yakima Ave., Yakima, WA 98902). There will be a private family burial.
A celebration of life will be held this summer where many can gather, reminisce, tell stories, and laugh about Coach Steele, Frank, Stubby, Mr. Steele, or whatever endearing name you had for him. Memorial donations are requested to the booster clubs at Toppenish High School or Davis High School in honor of Coach Frank Steele
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Franklin Merle Steele
May 26, 2021
My condolences to the family of Mr. Steele.........he was always one of my favorite Teachers at Top-Hi! He was engaging and had a wonderful sense of humor. He showed much courage as a Drivers Ed Instructor, getting into a car with multiple students with little, or no drive experience. This had to be terrifying and yet he did it every single day. He was adamant about completing our "head checks" and I cannot tell you how many times that has saved me! Honestly, I have had a few close calls over the years & have silently always thanked "Mr. Steele" for drilling that check in. He was so very dedicated to the students & athletes & we were blessed to have him as a Coach & Teacher. Rest in Peace Mr. Steele.......you were loved and you will be missed!
Abby (Hovsepian) Coleman
April 3, 2021
My deepest condolences to the Steele family. Mr. Steele was one of my favorites at Davis High back in the 90s...He pushed us to our limits (and beyond) in the weight room, and encouraged us to be our best in life. He was be dearly missed. And to his family who I was lucky enough to also get to know, my thoughts and prayers are with you all.
March 13, 2021
Here's Oscar Martinez and I at a meet, notice he's watching to see if I complete the lift. All Mr. Steele bringing out our best. Best times in our powerlifting family under Mr Steele.
March 13, 2021
Hey Mr Steele,
Thankyou for being an inspiration to me and creating the "munchie" award for the little guys. Even though pound for pound we were the strongest. I won , 2nd and 3rd places at all our meets and even a few 1st place trophys. Oscar Martinez and I were back and forth under you, taking home the trophys, except when that guy from Hoquim was competing. But we never gave up because of you. You will always be remembered as the GOAT to me.
March 10, 2021
Hello, I met Mr.Steele at good ole TopHi in the 90s. I heard about this powerlifting team once I hit the 9th grade, but I end up going to a different High School my freshman year.
I did go back to Toppenish my sophomore year and joined the Wildcats powerlifting team and I was so shocked at how serious the lifters were. I jumped right in and got one of those t-shirts once reaching the goal of all three lifts combined as one. Great memories shared with this team.
I did not know he passed away and my condolences go out to the family and friends who knew him.
Amy Kay Lindh
March 7, 2021
Frank was a very giving person. He gave of his time, talents and care. He always lifted your spirit with his humor. Prayers for Susan and the family. May you be surrounded in God’s love and peace.
March 6, 2021
Frank Steele. And i mean Steal. Tough and never surrendering,but with a great heart. Frank Will always hold a special place in my memories,i was a TA for Frank in Drivers Education Class at Toppenish Hi School and he was my football coach and mentor. He will be missed greatly by many including me. I am proud to have known such a man . rest in peace my friend. RH
March 5, 2021
My mom, JoMarie Carson, and I would like to extend our deepest of sympathies to the Steele family.
March 4, 2021
Coach Steele, You Are and Have ALWAYS Been the Biggest Impact for Many of Us. Thank You for Your Guidance & Passion You Shared with All of Us. Your Training Has Always Been Used Throughout My Life. You Will Be Missed and Always Loved. ♥️😔 RIP COACH STEELE! 🧸🕯
Joelle Staudinger Loveless
March 4, 2021
I wanted to thank Mr. Steele's family for sharing him with our school and students. I was a student of Mr. Steele's, off and on for 3 years at Davis High School. He was so inspiring to me and I was not a great lifter! But when I finally won 1 t-shirt, I was so proud! And it was because of him....I still have it and I graduated over 25 years ago. I even took a zero period class one year, just so I had room in my schedule to take weights. I also remember him hosting lifting events at Davis...I didn't compete, but I helped out and those kids were so driven and inspiring, all because of Mr. Steele. Very fond memories of that weight room, with the radio blasting, and Mr. Steele as our leader. I am so sorry for your loss. Lots of love to your family. xo, Joelle (Staudinger) Loveless
March 3, 2021
I am at a loss. Frank Has been an integral part of our family before i was born. He was one of my Dads best friends and even lived with him and his family for a time. Frank was like a uncle to me, he attended some of my games when i was in high school and always had some uplifting and positive advice as any great coach would.
When i came to Yakima in 1986 i was able to reunite with Frank and his Family. Frank and i coached babe ruth together and he invited me to coach on the Tophi football staff but work commitments prevented that. I was always grateful he had respected me enough to ask. I always loved showing up at his weightlifting class in my WSP uniform and pretending to arrest him in front of the class! Many great and fond memories! RIP Coach!
Lewis Bond III
March 3, 2021
Mr. Frank Steel was an insertion to me. My fondest memory is when his family took me to Whidbey Island on their vacation.
As we got on the fairy his youngest daughter started running towards the end of the doc, I caught her and brought her back to the car.
Frank said I was his hero. I believe he was the hero. I thought a lot of him and am thankful he took the time to teach me to be a better person.
Frank and I often cut fire wood after school for extra money. What good memories. My condolences to the Steel family.
Michelle "Mikki" Strom
March 3, 2021
I would just like to offer my condolences from the Leon Strom Family. Our father had passed away in September. They spent many years together coaching football at Toppenish High School. And shared many memories together.
March 3, 2021
Cousin Frank was one of my first playmates. He was an organizer of games for all the cousins and later grandkids. I recall family reunions where my brothers called him the PE teacher. My memories bring a smile to my heart. RIP , dear cousin
March 3, 2021
Prayers for the family.
March 2, 2021
As the very first face that I saw on the first day of summer weightlifting; and the predominant voice through endless grueling practices and workouts; all the way through graduation day, coach Steele was always a positive and motivating influence.
He had a knack for inspiring the uninspired (and even the uninspiring like yours truly). I am sad to read that he has passed. But I am glad and happy to have known him. And I am grateful to be just one of the many lives he touched.
RIP, coach Steele.
March 2, 2021
Coach Steele, you’ve had a huge impact on me throughout my life. You inspired me to work hard, never give up, and to be mentally tough. Thank you for being the person you were and being apart of my life. RIP coach!!!
March 2, 2021
Coach Steele taught and motivated my son Christopher to new plights. The Metal Patch was a transformation that only Frank knew how to do. And he was dam good at motivating his students!
We became friends and we fished the Columbia River together. Lots of fond memories of him. R.I.P. MY DEAR FRIEND.
March 2, 2021
If I look back on my life and point to one person who made the biggest difference it would be coach Steele. He literally made me a stronger person, not just physically but mentally. He taught me how to thrive when things get really tough, how to embrace hard work, and that I'm tougher than I think I am. I honestly don't know what I'd have done without those lessons. I'll be forever grateful for his mentorship.