Jack Ellwood Steele
(1924 - 2009)

Jack Ellwood Steele
Nickname: Great Guru

Illinois, United States of America
January 27, 1924

Ohio, United States of America
January 19, 2009

Bionics, artificial intelligence, psychiatry, hypnosis, flying, photography, chess, committee minds, systems engineering, wilderness camping, art, motorcycle riding, electronics, ham radio, talking, multiple-personalities, Milton H. Erickson, science fiction, reading, scientific study of religion, glass paperweights, learning, writing, genealogy, poetry, travel, people, architecture, ...
This site is dedicated to Jack E. Steele, "The Father of Bionics". Thank you for visiting. Please feel free explore this site to read what others have written, and to add your own thoughts, stories, memories, and pictures. Jack's life covered so many venues and touched so many lives, that it is only through your contributions that we will fully appreciate what a wonderful person he was. Feel free to invite others who knew him to visit. Thank you!


On January 29th, 2009, "Life of Bionics Founder a Fine Adventure" was published in the "Dayton Daily News". Here is the link:


To those who attended his wake on 1/27/09 - Thank you for braving the weather and helping us to celebrate his life! It meant a lot to us.

- The Steele Family


Jack Ellwood Steele

Colonel Jack Ellwood Steele, MD (Ret), the “Father of Bionics”, passed away peacefully after a protracted illness, January 19. He was born to Ruth (Feller) Steele and Maurice E. Steele, Jan 27, 1924, in Lacon, Illinois. He graduated from Mendota HS (1942), and then studied General Engineering at the University of Illinois and the Illinois Institute of Technology (1942-1944). He studied Pre-Med at the University of Minnesota, earning his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School in 1950. He served in the US Army 1943-46, later serving the US Air Force from 1951 until retiring in 1971. He first worked at the Wright-Patterson AFB Hospital as Ward Officer in Psychiatry and Neurology. From 1953 to retirement he worked on several projects in the 6570th Aerospace Medical Research Lab at WPAFB where he researched engineering applications of biological models, founding the field of bionics, as well as coining the term. He and his work were referenced in Martin Caidin’s novel “Cyborg”, which formed the basis of the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man”, and the spinoff, “The Bionic Woman.”

After retiring from the Air Force, Dr. Steele completed a Masters of Engineering degree from Wright State University (1977) with his thesis “Bionic Design of Intelligent Systems”. He continued in his interest in psychiatry and the workings of the human mind while working at the Dayton State Hospital for 20 years. In retirement he continued to explore his interests in travel and development of his “committee mind” personality theory. His life was notable for his wide interests across many academic forums, and his active participation in wide-ranging interests, social, professional, spiritual, intellectual, and technical. He opened his home and used his healing talents to help many people find their way.

In his book, "Cyborg", Martin Caidin described Dr. Steele as "a combination electrician, engineer, medical doctor, psychiatrist, pilot, AND a flight surgeon." A few of his other roles included hypnotherapist, story-teller, jokester, architect, teacher, drug-abuse counselor, and of course husband, father, and grandfather. He truly was a "Jack-of-All-Trades".

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ruth (Kelley) Steele, daughters Jill Steele Mayer, and Suzy R.E. Steele, and six grandchildren.


Jack's wife, Ruth, passed away on November 20th, 2016. Please visit her memorial at: http://www.ilasting.com/ruthsteele.php

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

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Guest Book (22 entries)
I am sorry I never got to meet Dr. Steele. My father, David Feller, was his first cousin. My grandfather, Donald W. Feller, was Ruth Feller Steele's brother. I do remember visiting Aunt Ruth as a young child. She was very sweet, and I still remember the book she gave me! -Karen (Feller) Galvan, MD
Karen Galvan (Cousin)
July 5th, 2017
Captain of My Crew

I've been a lot of people,
And I've yet a lot to be.
Can the one that's here now writing,
Be the one that's really me?

I am the master of my selves,
The captain of my crew.
They often tell me what we want,
But I choose what we do!

by Jack E. Steele
Jill Mayer (Daughter)
December 2nd, 2016
We played together from age 5 up. We went through school together in Mendota, IL We were both in college when WWII called us and we lost track of each other, to meet again in some of our high school reunions. I was an Army Air Corps pilot and all over the hemisphere. We always were in contact but so far apart we seldom met. While Barb and I were in Michigan we had friends that had a son in the army. He was overseas and was involved in a mess in the Congo. They were ambushed and all were presumed to be dead. This boy, while terribly injured, knew enough to play dead and survived.
His injuries were mostly to his head and he was considered a lost cause by the medics, when they found him. When I heard about this, I was able to contact Jack and he gave me instructions for his parents to follow to get their son to the proper place so that he could see him. That's the way it went and Jack saved the young man and gave him a life. He moved to the Florida Keys sometime after we had moved to Fort Myers and we talked on the phone a number of times but were never able to get together. Their home was seriously damage in one of our hurricanes so they lived in their motor home next to the house. The last time there was a communication was when we were out of town and they were going north somewhere and they stopped to see us. Not being home, he called our number to leave a message which said, "He's either dead or they don't live here anymore" When we got back I tried calling him but their phone was disconnected and I was never able to find him again. That was in late 2008.
We were both into model airplanes and in 1940 I designed a plane and we both built it at Jack's house. It was called the Stelost and had an Olsen 80 engine. Jack had developed a counter weight system that we were going to try out. When the engine quits in flight, the balance on the aircraft changes and it gets nose heavy. Jack figured if he had a weight that would move toward the rear he could change that. We got the plane up in a spiral climb and we figured it had to be a 1000 feet in the air when the engine ran out of fuel. It immediately went nose down and came crashing to the ground. "Well" Jack said, "I guess my idea didn't work."
Stanley Yost (best friend)
November 2nd, 2014
curtis price (unknown)
September 1st, 2013
Suzy, So sorry to hear of the loss of your father, although far, far too late... He was a genious whom intimidated me to the point of self destruction. The world and society in general will, and should regret his loss. I'm so sorry for your loss, and wish you well in your career and "Life, The Universe And Everything"
John Komon (Dated His daughter Suzy)
August 27th, 2011
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Chris Baynard
March 15th, 2019
"U were a brilliant man"
Logan Cloete
October 24th, 2018
sarah flaherty
March 5th, 2014
"ur cool and the beard is just amazing and your research is superb. coolbeard and R.I.P"
anthony jaramillo
May 23rd, 2012
"i liked ur aoto biographies and ur beard. dont mean to be rude."
Rene Molina
May 23rd, 2012
"You probably never knew this, but when I was a teenager, I thought your home was magical, a place of ideas and chaos. Although I am sorry that you are gone, I am grateful that you were here, and that for a while, you shared your magic with me."
Bobby Schmidt
November 30th, 2010
"I miss you and still have a lot of questions that I wish I could ask you, I love you and I will remember you always. =("
Arthur Mayer
January 24th, 2009
"Thank you for being such a good grandfather. I miss you, and I love you. Robert"
Robert Mayer
January 24th, 2009
"I already miss being able to turn to you for advice when I need it. But I can hear you in my mind quoting Milton Erickson, "So when I am just a memory, you still write to me and your unconscious can answer your letter." I will always love you, Dad!"
Jill Mayer
January 23rd, 2009


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