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Roger Clarendon Steele


1920 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Roger Clarendon Steele Obituary
Roger Clarendon Steele
July 26, 1920 - April 22, 2014
Resident of Lafayette
Roger Clarendon Steele, devoted husband and loving father, passed away peacefully on April 22nd at the age of 93.
Roger was born July 26, 1920 in Alameda California and was the third child of Cleve and Miriam (Jackson) Steele. Roger attended UC Berkeley, pledged Sigma Chi and graduated class of '42 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. This degree served him well when, after being called up to serve his country in WWII and serving 4 years in the Navy, he vowed to create something so he'd never have to work for anyone else again.
Roger made good on his promise when he realized the aviation industry needed lighter weight planes. In a basement in Lafayette, California, he set out to create a material strong, durable and light enough to do the job. After experimenting ceaselessly with designs, epoxies and resins for two years, it was time to start a company. Many if his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers would join Roger to become the core management of the company that would be the Hexcel Corporation. It went public in 1948 and Roger, "Mr. Hexcel", retired twenty years later. Hexcel continues today to be a world leader in specialized composite materials.
After the war, Roger met Naomi "Kaye" Kalb who worked in the Engineering Department at Cal as a draftsperson. The blind date, arranged by a friend, turned into true love and they married in 1948. They had 60 wonderful years together until Kaye's death in September, 2008. In their early marriage, Kaye was the sole breadwinner while Roger worked to develop Hexcel. Roger always said that without Kaye's artistic talent and competency, he never would have accomplished what he did.
Roger's and Kaye's children, Kathy and John, brought them much joy; Kathy through her artistic talent and John through his athleticism. Throughout their lives, they were always supportive of their children's interests. Despite declining health in his last decade, his spirit and outlook was always positive and he took great pleasure in hearing of his family's activities.
Kaye and Roger were long-time residents of Incline Village, Nevada and Lafayette, California. Roger is predeceased by his wife Kaye, daughter Kathy, brother Dwight Steele and sister Jeanette Muller. He leaves behind his son John, daughter-in-law Diane and his two grandchildren, Jeff and Avery.
Family and friends are invited to a memorial service on Friday, May 16 at 1:00 pm at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland.
In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to one of Roger's favorite charities, Pet Network Humane Society, 401 Village Blvd., Incline Village, NV 89451
Published in Inside Bay Area on May 4, 2014
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