Melvin Leon Steele

Friday, December 23, 2016

Melvin Leon Steele, 81, formerly of Nevada, went to meet Jesus on Thursday, Dec. 22. He died at the Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark., from complications of pneumonia after suffering for years with diabetes and heart ailments. Melvin was born March 5, 1935, in Kansas City, Mo., to Elmer Lon and Hazel Jane (Duncanson) Steele. He was united in marriage to Sylvia Eileen Ontman on July 25, 1960, in Kansas City, Mo.

Melvin grew up on a farm near Stockton, returning to Kansas City for his senior year of high school and his graduation from Manual Technical School. He worked for a time for Vess Cola and was then drafted for military service in the United States Army in 1958. He served with the Second and Third Armored Divisions as a tank driver, stationed in Germany as part of the Cold War peace-keeping forces there. He left active duty service in 1960, and completed four years in the Army Reserve after that, attaining the rank of Sergeant.

Upon returning from Germany, Melvin married his sweetheart, Sylvia, whom he had met and fallen in love with at Bales Baptist Church in Kansas City. They remained in Kansas City until 1973, raising five children. During this time, Melvin attended and graduated from UMKC with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, both in education. After leaving Kansas City, Melvin taught and served as a high school principal in Dearborn, Mo., for a short time.

Melvin and his family made a monumental move to Nevada, in 1976. Here Melvin served as the local Missouri Veterans Service Officer, and eventually served as a Missouri Veterans Commission supervisor over a portion of southwest Missouri. He and his family were active members of Pine Street Baptist Church, and he served as a deacon there for many years. After Melvin's retirement, he and Sylvia moved back to Kansas City, remaining there until health issues caused them to move to Foxwood Springs Retirement Center in Raymore, Mo. They then went to live in the Fayetteville, Ark., area to be cared for by their daughter, Jennie, and her husband Mike. Melvin's last place of residence was the Veterans Home in Fayetteville.

Survivors include his children, Ruth Smiddy, Independence, Mo., Melvin Steele, Jr., West Plains, Mo., Jennie Martin, Farmington, Ark., Karen Wheeldon, Kansas City, Mo., and Susan Rives, Springfield; 10 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two sisters, Martha Idona Edwards and Juanita Mae Dodson, of Independence, Mo.; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife Sylvia; his parents; one brother, William Kenneth Steele; and one sister, Alice Marie Steele.

A funeral service will be held at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Ferry Funeral Home in Nevada, with Pastor Stephen Rives, Melvin's son-in-law, officiating. Interment will follow in the Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at the funeral home.

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