Ruth Eleanor Steele (Kelley)
(1921 - 2016)

Ruth Eleanor Steele (Kelley)

Ohio, United States of America
March 26, 1921

Texas, United States of America
November 20, 2016

Quilting, Gourmet Cooking, Oil Painting, Enameling, Sewing, Knitting, Gardening, Cake Decorating, Jewelry Making, Metal Working, Calligraphy, Ceramics – Low & High Fire, Raku, Beekeeping, Glaze Making, Drawing, Jewelry Making, Creating Porcelain Beads, Traveling, Camping, Flying, Enjoying Family, Motorcycling, Lost Wax Silver Casting, Making Friends, Napping ;-)
This site is dedicated to Ruth Steele. 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. Ruth’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 she was. Feel free to invite others who knew her to visit. Thank you! 

Ruth was very happy to be part of an adventurous, unusual, and active family, and loved sharing stories about her experiences. Nobody could call the Steele family "normal!"

Ruth, who was extremely talented and creative, was born to Isabel (Hopper) Kelley and Napoleon Bonaparte Kelley in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1921. She spent most of her life in Dayton, Ohio, and passed away among friends in Austin (or Cedar Park?), Texas, in 2016. She led a very full life in the intervening 95 years, and loved to tell stories about her adventurous life with her husband, Jack.

She attended HS in Bellefontaine, college BS, MS, in history.

History Schoolteacher, Driver’s Ed Teacher (“Squeal ‘em, Kelley!”), Secretary

The story about how she met her husband, Jack foreshadowed how Ruth’s life with Jack would not be “normal”:
In 1952, her future husband had examined his life, decided it was time to get married, and because his childhood sweetheart had pushed him off the dock at a church picnic, he thought he should recreate the situation. So, he checked the paper and located a local church swimming party scheduled for that following weekend. At the picnic, because he was quite nearsighted, he went to the lifeguard on duty and asked him to point to the prettiest girl at the pool. The lifeguard then pointed to Ruth. Later, during the meal, when she asked for someone to please pass the pickles, he stood up, grabbed the dish of pickles, walked over and handed them to her. He chatted with her long enough to learn her name, and that she worked as a secretary at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he was stationed. He left, knowing that he could look her up later in the base directory. So, he contacted her, and they went out on their first date, but he decided that she wasn’t smart enough for him (he probably had a genius IQ!). But she was smarter than he thought, because SHE invited HIM out for a second date, and they continued to date for three years. When he was finally ready to propose, he said to her, “Let’s buy an airplane and get married!” So they did! 

They were married on October 1st, 1955, and three years later Jill was born. Jack wrote the following:

A Dayton school teacher named Kelley
Feared a tumor had grown in her belly.
In less than a year
She was over her fear.
Now it’s growing on crackers and jelly! 

Their next daughter was born 7 years later, about whom Jack wrote:

Little Suzy one shoe, 
Runs through the house, 
Clump like a horse, 
Pat like a mouse. 
Pitty clump, patty clump, 
What will she do? 
Take off the other, 
I would, wouldn't you?

Ruth and her family lived in Dayton, Ohio until 2009, when Jack passed away, after which she joined her daughter, Suzy, in Austin, Texas.

Because Jack was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, for about 20 years, the military family stayed put, unlike most other families. Despite living in one place, Jack made sure the family had an adventurous life, and Ruth loved to share those stories. From flying the family plane (including a few near-misses), to wilderness camping in Canada, driving around Europe in a VW camper bus, learning to ride a motorcycle in middle age, and finally building a house in the Florida Keys, Ruth was always appreciative of the experiences she had.

On her own, she was a very creative and talented artist. Ruth was constantly learning new skills and enriching her environment with her works. Starting with sewing and knitting, sketching and drawing, she continued with oil painting, ceramics, gardening, and gourmet cooking. She learned how to create her own glazes, and created necklaces from beads that looked like natural stone which she created from porcelain clay. Along the way, she generously shared her love of ceramics with her daughters' girl scout troops. She followed with metalworking, enameling, casting silver, and making jewelry. She expanded into calligraphy, stained glass, and quilting. She even started up beekeeping in the back yard, continuing what she learned from her parents.

She enriched the lives of those around her, not only with her art, but with her pleasant, funny, and caring personality. She was always thinking of others, and everyone she met enjoyed her company.

Ruth had a wonderful sense of humor! While living at Lakeline Oaks retirement community, she purchased a large, hairy, remote control spider. On Halloween, she sat on her walker in the main lobby, and surprised the residents with her crawling friend. Someone panicked, grabbed the spider, and threw it into the fish pond! Fortunately, with the help of a friend who dried it out and repaired it, the spider survived!

As her health declined, she continued her quilting and calligraphy and remained active visiting her friends in the retirement center zooming down the hallways in her electric scooter.

She always said how important family was, and she considered her friends her family. Ruth passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends at St. David's North Austin Medical Center. 

Ruth is survived by her two daughters, Jill Steele Mayer of Centennial, Colorado and Suzy R.E. Steele of Austin, Texas. She is also survived by 6 grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Jack E. Steele (The Father of Bionics) in 2009, and her sister, Roberta G. Kelley in 1945. 

Ruth's family is grateful to all her friends for enriching her life supporting her in times of need. Thank you for visiting her memorial site, and we would LOVE to hear from you. Please add your stories and comments!

Ruth's husband Jack has a memorial at:

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (3 entries)
I was interested in finding out about the artist who painted my portrait back in 1959 so I looked her up! I was three at the time so I don't remember much but I'm from the New England area. After reading about Ruth, I hope she was the artist who painted me as she certainly seems like a great and talented person.
Cathy Volkmann (Interested party)
April 29th, 2018
My husband Jesse and I held church services at Lakeline Oaks for 5 years. By the time we moved away from Texas in 2014, Ruth had become a dear friend. I loved her stories and could sit for hours and listen. I loved her gentle heart and loving ways. She was truly one of a kind and I look forward to hugging her again in Heaven.
Karla Johns (Friend)
May 19th, 2017
This is the memorial I set up for Ruth Steele. To sign the guest book, click on the "Sign Guest Book" button below.
Jill Mayer
November 30th, 2016
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"You were my second Mom -- I will miss you!"
Robert Williscroft
December 30th, 2016


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