Cover photo for Johnny and Daurice Steele's Obituary
Johnny and Daurice Steele Profile Photo
Johnny and Daurice

Johnny and Daurice Steele

  Surrounded by family and members of his hospice team, John Harold (aka “Johnny” or “Graddy”) Steele, age 95, completed his earthly labors of a life well-lived on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 to enter into his eternal rest with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Born in his maternal grandparent’s home in McCaulley, TX to parents Virgil and Murriel Stephenson Steele, he would be the second of four children in the family, with the first of the three siblings being 18 months apart, followed 9 years later by his brother. 

  Being born February 14, 1929 during the period of the Great Depression into a family who farmed for a living, John and his two sisters learned early on about working together as a family unit with one lesson being how to adapt to hoeing left-handed since their dad was left-handed and instructed them in his method holding the hoe properly in order to get the weeds out of the cotton and other crops as was needed; however, all three children were right-handed. As their brother, John also filled in as being a protector for his sisters if and whenever needed.

  John attended the McCaulley schools until time to enter high school when he transferred into the Hamlin school system, graduating in 1946, followed by time attending John Tarleton College in Stephenville. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, 3rd Class, from 1946 - 1949. His younger sister, Sarah, had a good friend in the nearby Fisher County community of Plasterco by the name of Helen Daurice Ewing who was born March 23, 1931 in Fisher County and was the eldest of the three children in the family. John would initially meet Daurice when she was in the sixth grade and he, an eighth grader. Her father was employed by the Texas Cement and Plaster Company in Plasterco, aka the Celotex Corporation. Daurice would later move with her parents to Abilene, where she graduated from Abilene High School in 1948, followed by time attending Hardin- Simmons University. It would not be until John was 20 and Daurice 18 that they would have their first date, with them marrying later in the Abilene home of her parents, Hershel and Zella M. Fancher Ewing on April 7, 1950.

  John worked a period of time for Foremost Dairies, and then began working for the Celotex Corporation southwest of Hamlin from 1949-1950. Daurice was employed as a typist for Security Abstract and Title Company in Abilene, and would some time later work for Nunley Plumbing in Hamlin once the couple moved to Hamlin and began having and raising their family with the addition of their children Marcia in 1952 and Alan in 1958. Daurice additionally worked for a number of years for Moore Elevators in their office. John was then employed by the U.S. Post Office in Hamlin from 1950-1960, and began full-time farming from 1960-1964 in both Jones and Fisher Counties. From 1964-1970, he worked for the James E. Rodgers and Company, and in December of 1970, became Hamlin’s City Secretary, along with serving as the tax accessor / collector for the Hamlin ISD beginning in 1972, followed by serving in the same capacity for the Hamlin Hospital District in 1974. On December 1, 1980, he was hired as the very first Chief Appraiser for the Jones County Appraisal District, a position he held until his retirement in February 1993. John requested one day of vacation before being employed as a contracted appraiser for Jones County.

  The Christian couple desired for their family to be brought up in a home centered on Jesus Christ, and they committed to be faithful members of Hamlin’s First Baptist Church, with both being longtime members of the adult choir program, various Sunday School classes throughout their years, members of the YEEPIES senior adult program, and with John serving for years as the Sunday School Director and a Deacon for 56 years. The couple also served as volunteers for summer camps during some of their retirement years for what was then Ridgecrest Baptist Encampment located in North Carolina.

  John and Daurice were very active in the various events or organizations in Hamlin, being working members of the Hamlin CAP organization in its beginning days with volunteers actively cleaning unsightly properties around town, along with working with Hamlin’s Meals on Wheels as a volunteer delivery couple. Daurice was a member of the Women’s Missionary Union and the Woman’s Literary Club, while John served as a little league coach for the Braves baseball team, along with being a member of the Hamlin Volunteer Fire Department. He also assisted in filming Pied Piper football games for several years from what could be described as a “bird’s nest” landing affixed to one of the old Piper stadium’s light poles. He and Daurice were faithful Piper promoters attending as many sporting events as possible no matter the distance, even upon the graduation of their two children who were both active in school athletics. John served a number of years on the Hamlin Hospital Board, along with serving as treasurer for the Hamlin Cemetery Association. They both enjoyed travel near and far, along with fishing trips, and fellowshipping weekly with their close friends and their children in a group named “The Fun Bunch.” 

  In their golden sunset years, the attractive couple grew even closer as the thief of Alzheimer’s disease crept in on Daurice, robbing her of her memories, but never her sweet smile or love of the old hymns. John continued his protective care for her at home, seeing to it that she could still attend as many activities as possible, until she could no longer function well in a public setting. Home care was then increased by inviting a special caretaker and friend in Gloria Hunter to begin caring for Daurice until her passing with family, hospice, and some friends by her side on October 31, 2022 at the age of 91. As is offtimes typical with aging couples caring for one another, John’s health had begun to decline requiring emergent cardiac surgery, and in a short period of time he would be the recipient of needed additional care in his home that would again be filled by the family’s special friend Gloria.

  Preceding Daurice in death were her parents, one brother, Freddie Ewing, and brother-in-law, Ron Macon. John was predeceased by his parents, brother Col. Rowland Gene Steele and sister-in-law, Pat Branscum Steele, brothers-in-law, John Martin and Bill Ford, and nieces, Gena and Jan, and Gena’s two children, Danlyn and Matthew.

  The couple is survived by their children: Marcia (Robert) Moore; Alan (Melissa) Steele; grandchildren: Courtney (Jeff) Bell; Derek (Amber) Moore; Damon (Casey) Moore; Austin (Alison) Steele; and Rebecca (Justice) Baker and great-grandchildren: Cade, Cameron, and Carsyn Bell; Zoe and Ellie Moore; Cannon, Beckett, and Briggs Moore; Brynlie, Baylie, and Jantzen Baker; and Savannah and soon to be Clara Steele. Daurice is survived by her sister, Mary Macon Arnold and in-law Phyllis Ewing, while John is survived by his sisters Ora Frances Martin and Sarah Ford, along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. The family also wanted to include Gloria Hunter, the couple’s faithful caretaker, as a member of their family.

  The family will hold a private service for the couple at a future date with burial to be in the Hamlin Memorial Cemetery. For those wanting to make a memorial gift, two suggested organizations are First Baptist Church, 217 S. W. Avenue B, Hamlin, TX 79520 or Meals on Wheels-Hamlin, 717 North 10th, Abilene, TX, 79601; please be sure to designate Hamlin.

 

 

 

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