Evelyn Mary Steele, 101, of Baker City, Oregon died peacefully in the early morning hours of November 26, 2018, with family by her side. A visitation will be held on Friday, November 30, 2018, at 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM at Coles Tribute Center. The funeral service will begin at 11:00 AM on Friday, November 30, 2018, with a reception following the service, both will be held at Coles Tribute Center.
She was born in Conata, South Dakota where she lived throughout her youth with her Father and German immigrant Mother along with four siblings. They lived through the Great Depression; however, her family was already so poor that it did not affect their lifestyle. The values she developed in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota included frugality, a rock-solid work ethic and the love of a close-knit family that always helped one another. She attended a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade and it was there that she met Thomas R. Steele who was one grade ahead of her in school. Although she resisted his advances at first, she eventually married “her little feller” on December 27th, 1939 after a road trip in a blizzard with her brother Aaron and his wife Emma.
After having their first daughter, Marilyn, in 1940 she and Tommy drew straws to decide if they would stay in South Dakota or follow her older brother and migrate west. They drew the short straw, loaded up their few possessions and eventually ended up in Baker City after a short stay in Fruitland, ID. Her parents and all but one of her siblings would eventually live in NE Oregon. While her brothers are much more notorious in the region, she was always considered the boss of the pack, giving advice on relationships, jobs, business risks, lending money when they were in a tight spot and a good stern talking to when they had disappointed her.
In 1943 she had a second daughter, Shirley, and settled into being a homemaker and began her work managing their small income into fruitful real estate and business investments. She was remarkable at using compound interest in her favor and was very proud of what she had earned over the years. She only held one job outside the home at Robb’s Ladies Shop, in downtown Baker, for a short time. She spent much of her life as the quiet and generous support system behind many of her children and grandchildren’s business ventures.
She filled her days as a Mother and eventually a much-beloved Grandmother focusing on the important work of raising her children and helping with her children’s children. She collected and tried new recipes regularly for family dinners every Sunday, which nearly always followed working to improve or maintain her or one of her daughter’s homes or businesses. She along with Tommy grew a fruitful garden providing much of the family produce and maintained an impeccable weed-free yard. She was an accomplished seamstress and made most of her own clothes, as well as teaching her granddaughters the basics of sewing. In the 1970’s she became an expert at turning regular jeans into bell bottoms with colorful insets and then would construct handbags of matching quilted fabrics for her granddaughters.
Her guilty pleasure was afternoon Soap Operas with the characters from One Life to Live, General Hospital and All My Children. In the Summers she usually had at least one grandkid staying with her if not more and would shuttle them all to swim lessons, teach them the proper way to do yard work, how to bake the perfect butter cookie and provided meals. They all remember many of her “catch phrases” and sage advice with great fondness as well as having an appreciation for the discipline she expected from them.
Her lifetime spanned an entire century…from riding a horse to school to the dawn of self-driving cars. From living in a sod house with an outhouse to her final ranch style home that she referred to as “elegant”. From a time when no one had a home phone to a time when everyone has a cellular phone with video calling and a camera at their fingertips… However, this was a technology she loved due to being able to see her picture immediately after being taken and being able to see pictures of family that lived far away. This technology allowed her to share her most recent great, great granddaughter that she regularly showed caregivers affectionately calling her “a little doll”. She came from a time when owning a book for knowledge was a luxury, to everyone having the entire world’s worth of information readily available on the internet. From a time when diseases like measles and mumps were death sentences to them being eradicated… the list of changes is endless. But even with all that mind-blowing change going on around her, outliving all her contemporaries , her siblings , her Husband and even one child she remained a steadfast girl from South Dakota that was content with all she had and all she had learned in life, a woman that loved one man her entire life, and a woman that was always ready to give all her energy and resources to her family.
She is survived and will be greatly missed by her daughter Shirley McPheron (Ken) of Baker City , her granddaughters Tracy Bragg (Kelly) of Arlington, WA, Jenny Millich (Derik) of Arlington, WA, Cherie Dubell of Monroe, WA, Lisa Xeros-VandenBos (Todd) of Baker City, Teri Tynan of Wasilla, AK, grandson Shane Pierce (Tammy) of Baker City, Sister in Law Rosie Logsdon of Baker City, Nieces Patsy Hampton of LaGrande, OR, Elaine Logsdon of Baker City, Caroline Barton (Bob) of Baker City, Laura Green of Yuma, AZ, Jody Logsdon of Redmond, OR and nephews Norris Logsdon of Stanfield, OR, James Logsdon of Baker City, 15 Great Grandchildren, 12 Great, Great Grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents Henry and Dina Logsdon, her Husband of 64 years Thomas Steele, her Daughter Marilyn (Tudy) Carr, Brothers Henry Logsdon, Aaron Logsdon and Joe Logsdon, Sister Margret Paris, Grandsons Wayne Pierce, and Robert Carr, nephews Howard Logsdon, Stan Paris and Kerry Logsdon.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Heart 'n Home Hospice through Coles Tribute Center at 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
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