David L. Steele, age 85, passed away at his residence on Lake Eau Claire outside of Augusta, WI, on April 7, 2021, with his family by his side.
David was born in Sparta, WI, on August 7, 1935, to Mary and Clarence Steele and became an older brother to Phil in April 1938. He graduated from Sparta High School in 1953 and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. After college, David joined the Army and graduated from Army Signal School while at Ft. Monmouth in New Jersey. From there he was stationed in Arizona at Ft. Huachuca before heading to South Korea, outside of Seoul, to work in communications from 1959 - 1962. While in Korea he also set up a radio station and participated in psychological warfare. In 1962 he returned to the states and spent his remaining military service at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. Years later, David had the opportunity to return to South Korea to teach English; he always spoke in awe about the beauty of the country and the kindness of the people. After his military service ended, David attended Law School at his alma mater, UW-Madison. He graduated in 1965 and moved to St. Croix Falls where he joined his first law firm. Following this introduction to general law, he worked as a field attorney for the United States Veteran’s Administration. In 1969 he moved to Eau Claire, joining the School of Business faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He taught Business Law for 32 years; wrote and directed the International Student Program which hosted students from Belgium, Korea, and Japan; and created the Emphasis in International Business within the School of Business. His international work included spending the summer of ‘92 in Monterrey, Mexico, with his family, teaching at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. During his time teaching at the university, David also maintained a full-time private law practice in Eau Claire and then eventually transferred his practice to Augusta.
He retired from teaching in 2001 and closed his legal practice in 2018. Always keeping busy, and never really retiring, he opened Riverside Junction, a canoe rental business catering to visitors and locals who were looking to canoe the Eau Claire River. From 2002 until 2020 he welcomed everyone with a generous smile and used his time between customers to write short stories and poetry. Throughout his life, David was committed to volunteer work and participating in community groups. He was active with many organizations including the Eau Claire and Augusta Lions Clubs 1971-present, earning Lion of the Year and the Melvin Jones Award; Junior Achievement; Augusta Area Foundation; American Legion; Augusta Arts Council; Lake Eau Claire Association (president ‘83); and the Wisconsin Bar Association. He was a dedicated board member for the Augusta Library, as well as for Wisconsin Public Radio where he served on the board for 13 years. He also participated in theatre in Eau Claire and surrounding cities; his performance as Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie was dedicated to his wife and children. He achieved various accomplishments in his time, including negotiating with Eau Claire County to allow individuals to purchase their property on Lake Eau Claire rather than lease; and he fought for the lake to implement a rehabilitation program back in 1983, long before it actually happened in 2013.
He was a forward thinker, a poet, and a businessman who worked hard to make his community, home, and country better than how it was for him. In his final years, David traveled multiple times a year with his wife, both to national and international locations, all while carrying a camera but never taking a single photo. He was a lifelong Democrat who believed that no one should be able to tell his daughters what they should do with their bodies and was proud to know that he was leaving with a Democrat in the White House.
David is survived by his wife, Kathy; daughters, Jessica Ives, Kimberly (Selah) Ben-Haim, Katie (Denver) Stubbe; grandchildren Noam, Emira, Gideon Ben-Haim; and brother, Phil. The family would like to say the biggest thank you to Missy, Scott, and Jenna of Heartland Hospice. The kindness, compassion, and understanding shown meant more than they could ever know during this time in our lives. They have made a difficult time bearable.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will not be a formal funeral. The family invites friends to a celebration of life on April 17, 2021. This will be an outdoor gathering at the Harvest Moon, E19986 County Rd ND, Augusta, WI. Join us at 2:00 for remembrance and laughter.
To honor David’s belief that “black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, and kindness is everything,” please make donations to causes that support the betterment of our earth, humanity, and peace. Quote used with permission.
Online condolences can be left at www.andersonfhaugusta.com