The Rev. Willard Glover Steele, 99, of 128 Richard Ave., Falconer, N.Y., passed away Friday (March 14, 2014), in the Lutheran Home in Jamestown.
He was born July 2, 1914, in Brent, Ala., the son of the late E. Robert Steele and Muggie Murphy Steele.
He was a 1933 graduate of Bibb County High School in Centerville, Ala., and attended the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio.
The Rev. Steele was a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ from the time he was 20 years old. He was ordained in the Wesleyan and the United Methodist Churches. During the time of his first pastorate, when his parishioners saw him driving down the lane in his Model A Ford, they knew he was there for dinner, help with chores, and spend the night, sometimes sleeping on the floor. 80 years later, his last complete verbalized statement was, "The greatest honor I had in my life was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ."
He served churches in Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. Locally, he pastored Wesleyan churches in Falconer and Levant, where he led the church in the building of the new sanctuary. In the 1970s he was director of development for United Wesleyan College in Allen-town, Pa. The Rev. Steele retired in 1989 from the Jamestown First United Methodist Church, where he served as the visitation pastor. The Rev. Steele was a member of the Zion Covenant Church, Falconer Rotary Club, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow, and in earlier years served on the Falconer school board of education.
Being a theologian, he read the Bible through 77 times during the last 30 years. He was also a historian, and was especially fond of his family heritage back into Europe and colonial America.
Willard was a sports fan with a special fondness for baseball. He loved to travel the world and at the age of 89, he and his wife Gladys visited Australia and New Zealand. He was very proud of his family and never missed an opportunity to talk fondly about them.
Surviving are his wife, Gladys Myers Steele, whom he married on Aug. 23, 1986, in the First United Methodist Church of Jamestown; four sons: Robert Steele of Kingman, Ariz., J. Mark (Janice) Steele of Falconer, David (Donna) Steele of Panama, N.Y., and Steven (Penny) Steele of Mauldin, S.C.; 11 grandchildren: Alain, Kevin and Eric Steele of Germany, Sandra Thies and Michael Steele of Falconer, Dr. Kara Gibbs of Panama, Erin Mank of Jamestown, Cassandra Steele of Salem, Mass., Amy Steele of Charlestown, S.C., Kimberly Rhodes and Christie Pruitt of South Carolina;19 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Melba Jo Noble of Cabot, Pa.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Joanna R. Zike Steele, whom he married Oct. 8, 1936, and who died June 14, 1982; and a sister, Lillian Leach.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in the Falconer Funeral Home. The Rev. Daniel S. Rumfelt and Rev. Rick Miller will officiate. Burial will be in the Pine Hill Cemetery.
Friends will be received by the family from 2-5 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to the Falconer Public Li-brary or a charity of one's choice.
Visit our website at www.falconerfuneralhome.net to light a candle in remembrance.