Deanna Rae Steele
1938 - 2021
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May 20, 1938 - Jan 31, 2021 Deanna Rae Steele - grandmother, mother, wife, sister, teacher, sailor, free spirit - has set sail for a distant sea. Covid-19 claimed the life of Deanna, January 31, 2021. Deanna (Dee) Sutherlund was born to Ernest Benjamin Sutherland and Ruth Genevieve Donovan Sutherland on May 20, 1938 in Midland, Michigan. She grew up spending summers at the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near West Branch, Michigan. After graduating from Midland High School, Deanna received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Michigan State College. She received the siren call of California from a few close college friends after teaching briefly in Levonia, Michigan. She bravely traveled alone across country in a Ford Falcon that proved to be less than reliable along the way . . . but she made it. Upon arriving in California, Deanna pursued her passion for teaching children by becoming a first and second grade teacher at Torrance Unified School District. Later in her career, she also became a Reading Recovery Specialist. She enthusiastically taught, helped children to succeed, and provided a welcoming secure environment. She reluctantly retired after 42 years but continued to substitute teach and volunteer for several more years. Deanna and her friend, MaryAnn adapted to beach life well taking sailing lessons at King Harbor in Redondo Beach. After sailing instruction and some added experience, they bought a yellow Cal 20 sailboat in partnership. They were day and weekend sailors and also made many trips to Catalina. The two women even sailed to Ensenada, Mexico and back. Deanna met Gerald (Jerry) Steele in 1969, and four years later they were married. They made their home in a friendly neighborhood at Susana Ave., Redondo Beach CA, where Deanna happily lived the rest of her life. They have two children, Wendy Rae and Robert Ray. Deanna was a Girl Scout Leader, as well as a team bus driver for soccer, T-ball, baseball, basketball, swimming teams, and many less organized groups of kids. Serving as an active member of Riviera Methodist Church, Deanna took many positions of leadership. She could always be counted on to perform basic service duties such as washing dishes, setting up and taking down tables, handing out paper plates, cleaning the church, etc. Being a member of the church was a fulfilling aspect of Deanna's personal life. In her later years, Deanna suffered from dementia. With her husband's help, and in her own time, she had a new sense of peace radiating from her. She had a humbleness, acknowledging that she couldn't remember much anymore. The way she handled her disability was an inspiration to her family. She stayed cheerful and involved. Deanna is survived by her husband Gerald R. Steele, her sister Cathryn S. Sutherlund, her daughter Wendy Rae Pendergraft, her son Robert Ray Steele, and two grandchildren: Elyse R. Pendergraft and Reese N. Pendergraft. Her sister Jean Temple, and brother Garfield Sutherlund, preceded her in death. Her family members and people whose lives she touched are greatly benefited by her caring and love. May her spirit and memories live on in our hearts and her good acts of kindness continue to ripple throughout the world. Please go to Lighthouse Memorials & Receptions website,, to send the family messages and share memories.

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Published in Palos Verdes Peninsula News on Feb. 17, 2021.
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February 24, 2021
I am so sorry for your loss. I worked with Dee for many years at Hickory and loved every minute of it. She taught me so much. My husband and one of my sons would always be home the day school got out for Christmas...eagerly waiting the Hickory Farms basket that Dee always gave me. I have many fond memories of working with her and still think about her often.
Charlene S.
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