Cover photo for Richard M. “Dick” Steele's Obituary

Richard M. “Dick” Steele

Richard M. “Dick” Steele




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 shining stars.
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 Dental School, 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 and Austria – 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.”
His artistic 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.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard M. “Dick” Steele, please visit our flower store.

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