February 19, 2008
10:30 A.M. Saturday, April 5, 2008
Pella United Methodist Church
Saturday, February 23, 2008
family will be present 1:00 - 3:00 P.M.
at the Garden Chapel Funeral Home
June 14, 1922 - February 19, 2008
Otto Scott Steele, Jr., son of Dr. Otto Scott Steele, Sr., and Rachel Merrill Steele, was born on June 14, 1922, in New Concord, Ohio, and passed away in Pella, Iowa, on February 19, 2008, at the age of 85.
Otto spent his boyhood in several Ohio communities where his father was a Methodist pastor. The family moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1933. Otto graduated as valedictorian from West Lafayette High School in 1940. In 1944 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University, where he lettered in baseball and played violin in the university symphony. In 1951 he received a Doctor of Theology degree from Boston University School of Theology.
Otto met Mildred Romedahl, of rural Madrid, Iowa, at the 1946 World Student Christian Federation Conference in Switzerland, where they served as the two U.S. delegates. They married September 4, 1947. Otto and Mildred had four children, a son who died in infancy, Martha (Marty) Steele Knepper, John Steele, and Timothy Steele.
Otto entered the Methodist ministry and was ordained deacon in 1946 and elder in 1947. He spent 44 1/2 years in the ministry, serving East Kingston, New Hampshire, and Lawrence, Massachusetts, as a student pastor and the following full-time pastorates in Iowa: Stratford, Des Moines: Simpson, Des Moines: Windsor, Adel, Wellman, Des Moines: Epworth|, Monroe, and Fayette. For eight years he taught part-time at the Drake University Divinity School. In 1988 he retired and settled in Pella, Iowa, where Mildred was a teacher at Central College. They both became active members of the United Methodist Church there.
Dr. Otto Steele served the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church in many ways. He was president of the conference Board of Education and Registrar of the Board of Ordained Ministry. He attended World Methodist Conferences in London and Denver. As a minister, he was known for caring for the needs of his congregations, his organizing abilities, his sermons, and his social concerns.
Otto headed anti-gambling forces in Iowa for over 40 years. He wrote many letters to the editor, often published in the Des Moines Register, and he was an unpaid lobbyist at the Iowa Statehouse. In 1983 and 1992 his tireless efforts as an anti-gambling activist were recognized by the Iowa United Methodist Church and the Truth About Gambling Foundation. In 2004 he received the B. J. Clark Justice Award and in 2005 a Peace and Justice Award from Iowa United Methodist Church social action groups.
Otto was an avid baseball fan. A former pitcher in church softball leagues in his younger days, he later coached Little League baseball teams. He was a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox. He enjoyed classical music and politics.
In early 2005 Otto was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a degenerative illness. In 2006 Otto and Mildred moved to Vriendschap Village assisted living facility in Pella. In late 2006 Otto moved to the Long Term Care Unit of Pella Regional Medical Center.
Otto was preceded in death by his parents, Otto and Rachel Steele, and his sister-in-law, Josephine Said. Surviving are his wife, Mildred; their children and spouses, Marty Steele Knepper of Sioux City, Iowa, and her husband, John Knepper; John Steele of Omaha, Nebraska, and his wife, Deb; and Timothy Steele of Milton, Massachusetts, and his wife, Elizabeth Menne; and his sister, Esther Hyde, of Indianapolis, Indiana, and her family. There are four grandchildren: Laura Steele and Sarah Steele, children of John and Deb; and Katherine Steele and Andrew Steele, children of Timothy and Elizabeth.
A visitation, with family present, will be held at the Garden Chapel Funeral Home in Pella on Saturday, February 23, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. A memorial service followed by a light lunch will be held at the Pella United Methodist Church, 1414 University Street at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday April 5. At a later date, the cremated remains will be interred in the family plot in Rose Hill Cemetery, east of Luther, Iowa.
The family requests that memorials in remembrance of Otto Steele be sent to the United Methodist Church of Pella, 1414 University Street, Pella, Iowa 50219.