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Miriam Steel

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WILLIAMSTOWN ? Miriam Steel died peacefully at her home in Williamstown, MA, on Wednesday, September 14th at the age of 101.

She was born on Dec. 18, 1914, in Winnetka, Illinois to Margaret Root Fetcher and Edwin S. Fetcher. When she was a young child she and her family lived in France and Switzerland for 3 years where she became fluent in French. They returned to Winnetka, where she graduated from North Shore Country Day School in 1933. She attended Smith College and graduated in the class of 1937.

After college she got her Masters in Education at the Graduate Teachers College of Winnetka, where she also met her husband of 76 years, William W. Steel. They were married on June 22, 1940. They lived in Winnetka from 1946 until 1966 when they moved to Williamstown, MA. During 1938-41 she taught at the Village and Farm School, Glencoe, IL, and St. Petersburg Country Day School, FL.

They also had a strong connection to the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan. Miriam's first summer there was in 1919 at her family's cottage, Forest Lodge, on Long Lake, where they also held their wedding. In 1947 they started spending their summers in Leland, MI, and continued to do so through 2014.

Miriam loved the outdoors, especially wildflowers and birds. She said that given a choice of being outside or doing housework she would always pick the outdoors. She remained an enthusiastic walker into her mid 90s, exploring the trails behind Sweetwood or walking to the post office in Leland.

She loved sports and was an avid golfer into her 90s. Even in her 80s, she and Bill were known for riding their bikes to the Leland Country Club and being the first ones on the course. At age 93 she would compete in a women's putting contest and often win. When asked how at her age with limited vision she could do so well she replied, "I pretend I'm Tiger Woods."

Starting in her 60s she began to travel, both with Bill and on her own. They often travelled to France, and also made two trips to New Zealand where, at age 71, she hiked the Milford Track.

They often visited her brother at his ranch in Colorado, and they twice visited West Africa when their son was living there. On her own she travelled to the Amazon in South America, the Galapagos Islands, East Africa and Sanibel Island, Florida.

She loved double acrostics, puzzles and Scrabble. Shortly before her death, she played a vigorous game of Scrabble using many unusual and creative words.

Volunteering was an important part of her life and she gave many hours to the Leland Yacht Club, National One Design Racing Association, Reading for the Blind, the Women's Exchange, the Clark Institute and the Williamstown Library.

She is predeceased by her parents and her four brothers, Lee, Billy, Stanton and John.

She is survived by her husband and her son William F. ("Biff") and his wife Adwoa of Accra, Ghana and her daughter Polly ("Nicki") of Wilmington, Vermont.; her grandchildren Anim and wife Sarita of Brooklyn, NY, and Melissa King and husband John of Takoma Park, MD; and her two great grandchildren, Amina and Mireya King of Takoma Park. She always enjoyed hearing from and about her many nieces and nephews.

She appreciated many close friends, including the Varley family and Barb Gentile of Leland and the aides from Home Instead and Sweetwood Retirement Living Community. The family would like to thank Hospice of Western Massachusetts for their care and guidance.

She requested that no formal service be held, but there will be a celebration of her life next summer in Leland.

Remembrances may be sent to her family at 1611 Cold Spring Road #116, Williamstown MA 01267. Should anyone wish, donations in her name may be sent to the Leelanau Conservancy 105 N 1st St. Leland, MI 49654.

To add to the Book of Memories, please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes.com.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Nov. 1, 2016
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