John Hyland ‘Jack’ Steele Jr. died peacefully in the presence of family at the St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City late Saturday, June 27, 2009.I have never been embarrassed to say "my father is a car salesman". Horse trading is a long and honored tradition, and my father just applied the same principles to cars that was once applied to horses. In more than 30 years of working the deal, I never met anyone who thought they hadn't gotten a fair trade from him. Even after he was forced into retirement by his battle with cancer, he could still be found sizing up, buying and selling cars and trucks in his spare time.
He was born Sept. 11, 1938, in Witchita Falls, Texas, to John Hyland and Dorothy (Heim) Steele; they preceded him in death. He also was preceded in death by his son, Kelly Steele.
Jack served his country in he United States Air Force for six years and, for most of his life, received joy helping countless people have a good experience buying a car. He never met a stranger and was loved by all who met him.
He leaves behind the love of his life, Charlene “Charley” Steele and children: Ray Anthony Steele, Jonnette Ann Kraft, Dawn Marie Nickell, John Russell Steele, and Damion Lee Steele; his seven grandchildren and his sister, Jean Mohri.
Jack was a fighter and fought until the end.
At his request, there will be no services. In lieu of flowers, Jack would appreciate donations to Fremont County Orchard of Hope, 111 Orchard Ave., Cañon City, CO 81212.
Arrangements handled through Wilson Funeral Home.
A good portion of the population in Leoti probably remembers him as Hyland's son, who inherited the service station that he built. A volunteer fireman and occasional fire chief, my father was active in that small community in ways that would put most activists to shame in this day and age.
He was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. Grandma, when talking about those times, remarked "if he'd have waited another hour, he'd have been born in Oklahoma." that was the life of people who worked the oil fields in the 1930's. It wasn't long, though, before they settled in Leoti, and that small town remained home for three generations of Steeles.
I remember fondly riding the tractor with my Uncles and my Grandfather, working the farms that belonged to friends and relatives. I earned my first wages working in the service station, and my second job was in the fields, clearing weeds from around crops too sensitive to be mechanically maintained.
What I will remember most about my father, though, is his love of fishing and hunting. Long stretches of the summer season would be spent washing lures in Trenton, Nebraska. Winter weekends were to be spent in Twin Buttes, Colorado hunting canada geese; or quail, pheasant, deer and elk when in season. Fishing, more than anything else, defined the good times that I remember from childhood.
His health, in the last years, has been so poor I can't even begin to understand how he managed to drag himself through each day. But he did. He fought his cancer tooth and nail till the end, and survived far longer with it and it's after effects than any of the MD's thought he could. He breathed his last with his youngest adoptive son (as I was also adopted) by his side.
We miss you already, dad.