Richard M. “Dick” Steele
1947 – 2017
Dick Steele, 70, beloved husband, family
member and friend, died suddenly Dec. 17, 2017 at home of natural causes. His
death has left his family and friends grieving but grateful for the joyous
years they shared with him.
Dick was born on a blustery January 26, 1947,
in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to George and Tressa Steele. By all
accounts, he was a sweet, beautiful and playful baby and a smart and gentle boy
who was very protective of his little brother Jack. Tress called them her two
Dick remembered his childhood in Idaho Falls as bucolic,
the kind of place where he could charge a nickel on his parents’ account at the
corner grocery, then take it next door to buy a balsam model airplane. He
described his junior high school experience as a “bad accident. I don’t
remember a thing about it.” But his high school years were truly happy. He made
new friends, kept old friends and treasured them all his life.
At the University of Utah,
where he said he “finally learned to study,” he continued his lifelong gift of
making new friends, through a joyful combination of humor, patience, and
willingness to listen and learn from others. As a good friend says, “He had a
real curiosity about other people, their worlds and their lives. He read so
widely that I started reading the same books and learned so much.”
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science
degree, Dick was accepted into Northwestern University
in Chicago, Illinois, where he served as student body
president and graduated with honors.
It was there that he met Judy McConnell on a
blind date. They had both been on disastrous blind dates, but this one was magic.
They both loved books, movies and each other instantly. Dick introduced Judy to
jazz; she introduced him to contemporary dance. He introduced her to fine
cooking; she introduced him to French.
They were married in
1975 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where Dick was working
with a Swiss dentist.
It was the perfect
beginning to a good marriage. As Dick said, “We didn’t know anybody and learned
to rely on each other.” Eventually, they made strong friendships there,
enjoying surprise outings, weekly skiing, camping in the middle of large cities
and taking trips to surrounding countries – France,
Italy, Spain, Germany
– in their somewhat banged-up Volvo
After two and ½ years in Lausanne, Dick and
Judy returned to Idaho and Dick began practicing dentistry in Boise, first in
his own dental office and then, just recently, with Pennsylvania Dental, where
he found joy and satisfaction working with his new colleagues, his dearly loved
staff and his many wonderful patients.
His passion for learning didn’t stop with his
dental school training. Soon after opening his dental practice, he began
searching for something more to offer his patients. After taking classes at
several dental centers, he came home from a class at the Oral Bioesthetics
Institute and told Judy, “I’ve found it.” He committed to four years of
schooling and, after graduation, was asked to teach with the institute.
His commitment to
OBI was only one of his ongoing passions. He and Judy continued to travel –
back to Europe, to Brazil
(where Judy introduced him to the Brazilian way of life she loved), to Mexico. They
went numerous times through the years to Manhattan,
the Oregon coast, Sun
Valley, New Mexico and the
mountains of Colorado,
which he always called “Judy’s mountains.”
expression continued with gardening - Judy once found him lying full-length
beside one of his raised beds, just enjoying the green view. His gardens
provided many of the wonderful meals he cooked for family and friends. His creative
passion didn’t end there. He was a patron of the arts and an artist himself,
making hilarious drawings and beautiful jewelry.
He was a man who was
completely comfortable with himself, a tall but gentle soul who taught children
to play the leaf flute and several men to hug back. He was in love with life
and lived it with joy until the moment he died.
He will be deeply
missed by his loving family and his many friends. He is survived by Judy, his
wife of 42 years, his brother John Steele
(Gayil Nalls), his father-in-law Taylor McConnell, his brother-in-law Larry
McConnell (Mary Harrison), and his two beloved nieces – Morgan Nalls Steele and
Anna Katya McConnell. He is also survived by two aunts – Joann (George)
Lefferts and Maurine Steele – and four close cousins, Greg Burggraf, Carolyn
(Dan) Tomayko, John (Dianne) Lefferts and Mary (Everett) Perry.
Donations may be
made in Dick’s name to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival or The Cabin.
A memorial service
for Dick will be held in the spring.