John Paul "Jack" Steeper, 90, died July 18, 2012. His family was with him, and he passed away peacefully from a brief illness. ". . A golden heart stopped beating; working hands were put to rest." Jack lived at home with his daughter, Paula Kay, until he became a resident at the Oklahoma Veterans Center, in Claremore OK, September 2011.
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Jack was born November 10, 1921 in the Memorial Hospital, Bartlesville OK, to Thomas Paine and Helen Olga (Clark) Steeper. His family lived on Keeler Avenue and then moved to a large farm on Sand Creek, south west of Bartlesville. He started first grade at McKinley School at age five. Jack attended school there until seventh grade when he went to Bartlesville Central. He moved with his mother and sister to Tulsa and Ft. Gibson; he graduated from Muskogee High School in 1938. He entered the University of Oklahoma upon high school graduation and graduated with Honors in Petroleum Engineering in 1943. During summer breaks from college, he interned with Cities Service Gas Company at compressor stations inventorying resources to determine investment for the Federal Power Commission.
Jack was President of the OU RufNek Pep Club, member of Sigma Tau Delta and Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Societies, and Delta Chi Social Fraternity.
Jack participated in four years of ROTC at OU with courses in Horse-Drawn Field Artillery military science. He enlisted in the US Army and attended Officers' Candidate School 81 at Ft. Sill OK; he completed OCS (these men were called "Ninety-Day Wonders" because OCS was so extremely tough on its recruits); and graduated as a Second Lieutenant, September 1943. Jack was an instructor in Communication and Radio Repairing. His unit experimented with a jeep-mounted instrument. It drew a map of the jeep's path and it was probably the precursor of the modern day GPS. Jack was advanced to First Lieutenant.
Lieutenant Steeper traveled by train to Ft. Lawton, WA, for embarkation, May 1945. His outfit earned the dubious honor as having the longest stay in port due to trying to figure out how to pack the rocket launchers and ammo carriers. They traveled without destroyer escort on the USS Rockbridge to Okinawa Shima so as to not alert the Japanese about their cargo. Jack served as an officer in the Headquarters Battery of the 421st Rocket Battalion. He spent several months on the island and was promoted to Captain before mustering out at Ft. Sam Houston, TX in 1946.
Jack returned to Bartlesville to his wife, Julie, and infant daughter. He had met Lillian Jewell "Julie" Moore, during his summer employment with Cities Service. She was a junior draftsman with the company in Bartlesville.
Mr. and Mrs. Steeper were married May 15, 1943, in the parsonage of the First Christian Church in Bartlesville. They were inseparable sweethearts until her death in June 2007.
After Jack's return to Bartlesville, he held various positions with Cities Service Oil Company in the oil production and natural gas divisions. He was appointed executive-assistant to Robert L. Kidd, then president of Cities Service. Jack established the Data Processing Division, which included the first IBM computer in Bartlesville. He later consolidated data centers at Lake Charles LA, Atlanta GA, and New York NY. His next assignment was vice-president of Cities Service. When Cities Service moved the headquarters to Tulsa, he drove back and forth for seven years. He retired after more than thirty-six years of service.
Jack joined his father, Thomas Paine Steeper, in raising Hereford cattle and Quarter horses at the Steeper Ranch east of Bartlesville. Steeper Drive in Park Hill addition is named for his family. He showed gaited-horses in his youth and was a participant in all rodeo roping events in many arenas; he was President and officer of the Bartlesville Round-Up Club for many years. His father, T.P. Steeper, was one of the original patrons who funded the round-up club. Jack mentored many young cowboys in the area and was friends with Arch Saylor, Howard Lawrence, Jack Landsdown, Ben Johnson, Shoat Webster, Clem McSpadden, Ray Brown, Henry Hainzinger, Jim Shoulders, Monsieur Moore, Ora Brown, Fred Lowry, Bob and Johnny Lee Wills, and many other early horsemen.
Jack and Julie also pursued his love of boating. They maintained a cabin on Grand Lake for several years where he proudly captained the Julie Too, a vintage Chris Craft Cabin Cruiser.
Jack was preceded in death by his beloved wife, "Julie," father, mother, sister, Mary Elizabeth Glass, nephews Dunn Evans, Jim Houston Evans, John Glass, Jim Glass, and many close friends: Jim and June Stine, Julie Ann Stine, Elsa and Jack Fox, Louis and Merle Mae Mills, and Sally Payne.
Jack is survived by his daughter, Paula Kay Steeper, Bartlesville, sons Tom Steeper (Connie Bradshaw) Broken Arrow OK, Tim Steeper (Janet Green) Graniteville SC, granddaughter Mindy Kay Dolman (Trent Watson) Nowata OK, grandson Jon Dolman (Lauren Lewe) Jacksonville FL, granddaughter Tia Kristen Steeper (Tim Kizer), Jenks OK, granddaughter Meredith Ann Steeper (Thomas Parrott), Lexington SC, and grandson Thomas Paine Steeper, Tulsa OK, great-granddaughters, Logan McClendon and Murphey Anne Warring, Bartlesville OK. He also leaves a sister Jeanne' P. Steeper (Houston Evans) Uvalde TX, sister- and brother-in law Georgia Evelyn and Edward Theys, Grove OK, niece Jean Evans, Bartlesville OK, her daughter, Haley, Oklahoma City, and several other nieces and nephews.
His granddaughter, Mindy Kay, and his darling great-granddaughters, Logan and Murphey Anne lovingly and patiently took care of their precious "Granddaddy." They were with him almost every day and shared a special relationship with him. There is another great-granddaughter, Finley Rose Dolman, coming in September. His family is looking forward to this little one.
Jack was an extraordinary man with integrity and dedication to his country, his company, family, and friends. He will be remembered by many, but especially by his friends, Jim Warring, Kylie Warring, Morgan Kizer, Emily, Reiley, Reese O'Banion, Arthur and Louise Martel, Ann (Fox) Steeper Fornwald, Allan Dolman, Lee Sommers Family, Bill Perkins Family, Dr. David Caughell Family, Alfredo Herrera Family, Judy and Don Clifford, Karen Fleming, Carole Griffin, Donna Kerr, Jo Jamison, Nancy Jamison, Wendi Phillips, Ann Magee, Don McCorkle, Katie Friend, and his caregivers at the Oklahoma Veterans Center.
Jack was a long-time member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, and he received the last rites of the church. He was also blessed by Father Paul, Claremore OK. The family will have a private graveside committal service for Jack and Julie at Memorial Park Cemetery with Pastor Mark Carter. Cremation arrangements were under the direction of the Stumpff Funeral Home and Crematory.
Memorials may be made in the name of Mr. Steeper to Washington County Adult Center, 300 E Angus, Dewey OK 74029.
Stumpff Funeral Home & Crematory
1600 Southeast Washington Boulevard Bartlesville, OK 74006
Published in Examiner-Enterprise from Aug. 5 to Sept. 3, 2012