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Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Grant Steele USAF


11/11/1923 - 12/12/2014 Obituary
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Grant Steele USAF Obituary
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Grant Steele USAF, passed peacefully in his home on December 12, 2014, surrounded by his children.
He was born November 11, 1923 in San Luis Obispo, CA, to Chester "Chet" and Margaret "Marnie" Steele. While growing up in Arroyo Grande, CA, he won over the heart of Wavie Rountree, the girl next door, and they married July 8, 1945. Over the course of their marriage of 42 years, they moved to the city of Bakersfield, raised two sons, Thomas G. and William E., and twin daughters, Margaret A. and Wavie E. Together, they enjoyed road trips, football, the central coast and weekend trips to their cabin nestled in the mountains, until Wavie's passing in 1986. A widower, Thomas then married Hazel Oliver, uniting her and her children, Diana, Karen and Dorman to his family, until her passing in 2003.
Thomas lived an exceptional life that one can only strive to achieve. He lived life deliberately and became part of history. He was proud to be an honored member of The Greatest Generation. He exhibited the ideals of "Duty, Honor and Country," by serving in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific Theatre. At the age of 20, he was a 2nd Lieutenant Bombardier. He flew 50 successful missions with the Red Raiders on a B24J Liberator, "Star Eyes." His actions were honored with the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters for his over 400 hours of aerial combat. He was equally proud to work for the San Joaquin Tractor Company as an accountant and office manager for 31 years, and enjoyed retirement for another 31 years.
Thomas was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He enjoyed good food, books that made one think, and spending time with loved ones. He was an outstanding example of how to be a man. His smile and laughter will be missed by all that knew him.
Thomas is preceded in death by his parents, Chet and Marnie, his wives Wavie Steele and Hazel Steele and her son Dorman Pittman. He is survived by his sons, Thomas G. Steele II and wife Vickie, and William E. Steele and wife Charlotte; by his daughters, Margaret A. Peterson and husband Randall, Wavie E. Steele, Diana Coodey and husband Jerry, Lisa Pittman, and Karen Jones; by his grandchildren, Jeffery Steele, Kristen Steele-Watt and husband Jeremy, Jacob Wells and wife Leah, Jennifer Massie and husband David, Robert Steele and wife Ashley, Lauren Lindsey, Kristin Lindsey, and Forest Mack and wife Cambria; and by his 15 great-grandchildren.
A Viewing will be held on Friday, December 19th, from 12:00pm to 4:45pm, with a military graveside service to be held at 1:00pm on Saturday December 20th at Hillcrest Memorial Park & Mortuary at 9101 Kern Canyon Road, Bakersfield, CA 93306. In lieu of flowers, we ask donations be made to the Kern County Honor Flight, 8200 Stockdale Hwy, Suite M-10, Box 255, Bakersfield, CA 93311. The family plans to sponsor a veteran to see them off to Washington, DC, to visit the memorials that were built to honor their service to our country. A special thank you to Hoffmann Hospice for their loving care.
Grief, like the ocean comes in waves only to recede and come yet again, but with it comes healing. We think about the man our Daddy, Grandpa, and Great-Grandpa was and our fond memories will wash ashore, bathed by the golden sun. We will find that we grab a hold of those memories and will allow them to fill our emptiness and raise our spirits. By doing so it will bring us peace.
Our Father was an Officer and a Gentleman

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Published in Bakersfield Californian on Dec. 18, 2014
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