The Reverend Dr. William Lewis Steele Passed Away on April 19, 2020 Print


By the family

May 20, 2020: Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, William Lewis Steele was an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He attended West Virginia Wesleyan College and did his initial theological work at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. At Pittsburgh, he graduated summa cum laude and received both the preaching and Hebrew award in his senior year. In 1984, he graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree.

Bill was "called" to ministry and served the following churches: Student Intern, Bower Hill Presbyterian Church, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Minister of Education and Youth, First Presbyterian Church, Levittown, Pennsylvania; Pastor, Bethany Presbyterian Church, Lafayette, Indiana; Pastor, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Beaumont, Texas; Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church, Dearborn, Michigan; Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church, Oceanside, California; Senior Minister, The Reformed Church of Bronxville, Bronxville, New York. He retired in 2008.


During his 38-year ministry, Bill touched and enriched many lives. Known by a variety of names – Chapel Man, Doc, The Rev, Girl, My Minister, Billy, Papi, Charlie Christian, DH, Willy, Holiness, Buddy – he was known for his warmth, big smile, acceptance, inclusion, generosity, dance moves, and, as he used to say, "his good looks." 

Bill Steele was a great preacher, and he loved words and interpreting the Gospel with conviction, integrity, honesty, compassion and, more often than not, a big dose of humor. On tiptoes and nearly falling out of the pulpit, Bill's delivery style was captivating and dramatic yet sensitive and challenging.

He was not only a great preacher but an outstanding teacher and scholar, understanding counselor, devoted friend, caring father, and loving husband. Several years ago, a very dear friend, with whom he attended seminary, asked him how he wanted to be remembered. Bill's response, "I hope I will be remembered as faithful."

Bill Steele was faithful to his ordination vows, his friends, his colleagues, his staff, his family, his community, the church, and his God. He struggled with Parkinson's Disease for the past 14 years, and it slowly took him away from those who knew and loved him. It was and has been a very sad and long goodbye as the disease robbed him of his beautiful words and smile. However, despite all of this, he remained faithful. Well done, Bill Steele. Well done, good and faithful servant. You go, Girl!

Bill is survived by his loving wife, Jane Jae Reed; three amazing sons and their spouses: William Stetson (Jennifer); Reed Henderson (Julie); Colin Jutson (Kate); four treasured grandchildren Maximus Walker, Samuel Hawkins, Lucy Marie, and Oliver William; two sisters: Patricia Wahls (Roger) and Deborah Petrone (Joe) and a nephew, Joshua Wahls. He was predeceased by his mother, Lewis Bernice Henderson, and father, William Monroe Steele.

Frederick Buechner, an author who had a profound impact on Bill's life, says, "The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you." The party was complete because of William Lewis Steele.

At a later date, there will be a private family service in the church in Vermont where Bill and Jane were married nearly 50 years ago.

Memorial donations may be made to the church/synagogue/charity of your choice or to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Those who wish may leave the family condolences at