Rev. Philip Paul Steele, 83, went to be with the Lord on Saturday, December 12, 2020, at Park Place Assisted Living in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Born February 17, 1937, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Alice Eugenia (Bishop) and Philip Hoyt Steele, he graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1955. He attended Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in June 1963 and master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling. While attending WMU from 1958-1961, he was employed at the Bryant Division of the Allied Paper Corporation. He attended the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio, where he received his Master of Divinity Degree May 2, 1966. He served 45 years as a pastor in the West Michigan Conference and continued service as an ordained minister of The United Methodist Church on Honorable Location. He served as the Methodist delegate to the Michigan Council of Churches and to W.M.U.’s Ecumenical Institute. While attending Seminary, he was actively involved in the Interseminary Movement, serving as Regional Secretary, and chairing a Methodist-E.U.B. dialogue between the Ohio Seminaries of the two churches in 1966. He was a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis. He studied Hebrew and the Old Testament under Dr.Simon J. DeVries, a Reformed scholar.
Rev. Steele ministered to many in the community and served as pastor of United Methodist churches in Schoolcraft , Wolf-Lake Sitka in Muskegon, Cooper Congregational-Kalamazoo, United Methodist churches in Cooper, Portage, Coopersville, Battle Creek-Birchwood, Almena, Climax-Scotts, Jones, Oakwood, Milwood, and Lane Boulevard-Portage. In addition, he preached at the Mattawan Congregational United Church of Christ where he met his wife Nancy Lou-Ellen Wheeler. He received the Order of St. Luke vows while on tour in the holy land in Israel in 1990. He was blessed to travel twice to the holy land.
He married his soul mate of 61 years Nancy on June 20, 1957, at the Mattawan Congregational Church and they honeymooned in Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Together they had three children Mark, Melody and Genipher.
Rev. Steele worked at the V.A. Medical Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, counseling drug addicts and alcoholics for 26 years till his retirement in 1997. He officiated for the Easter Sunrise Sunrise Service at Fort Custer National Cemetery, working with Battle Creek Commandery #33. K.T., from 1982 -2013.
He was a member of the Saint Luke’s Choristers for many years and was a member of the Milwood United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo. He loved to sing and had most of the Methodist hymnal memorized.
He will be dearly missed for his love of life, music and his family. Left to celebrate his memory are his children: Mark Steele, Melody (Scott Pike) Steele-Martin, Genipher (Kurt) Oswalt; and grandchildren: Rhiannon (Jake) Norvell, Katelyn Hope Martin and Dario Canine Companions for Independence Service Dog, Brandyn (Kristin Rice) Steele-Aldag and Miranda Jacqueline Martin; and great-grandson, Shadow Beebe. Also surviving are six of his seven siblings: Naomi (Lawrence)Franklin, Gwen (Wendell) Nielson, Linda Holdeman, Becky (John) Terry, Yvonne (David) Richards, and Harry (Stephanie) Steele, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy, parents, son-in-law, Alfred Martin Jr, brother, James Steele and Brother-in-law, Jay Holdeman.
He shared love, faith, hope and joy with so many through his words and heartfelt kindness. He will be forever be remembered for preaching the word of God, sharing his love of God, and teaching about faith and Christianity. His love and support for others will forever be his legacy.
The family is planning Masonic services and a Celebration of Life at Milwood United Methodist Church 3919 Portage Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan July 3, 2021with the Rev. Dr. James Morgan officiating Interment with a Masonic graveside service will be at Maple Grove Cemetery in Mattawan, Michigan.
Donations may be made to The Mattawan Lodge Masonic Scholarship Fund. Mattawan Lodge #268 c/o Kevin Perry 826 Wickford Drive Kalamazoo, MI 49009 or The Milwood United Methodist Church.
He was active in Masonic work with the following Masonic Chronology:
Mattawan Lodge No.268 F.&A.M., 1958 Life Member
Worshipful Master, 1966, 1972 & 1987
Michigan Lodge of Research & Information No. 1, F.&A.M., 1984
Charter member as Jr. Warden
Worshipful Master, 1968 & 1989
Grand Lodge of Michigan, F.&A.M.
Service and Education Committee, 1972-1978, 1981-?
Masonic Development Committee, 1980-1981
Board of General Purposes, District No.11, 1992-?
Paw Paw Chapter No.34, R.A.M. 1961 Life Member
Excellent High Priest, 1977, 1978 & 1979
Order of High Priesthood, 1977
Kalamazoo Chapter No. 13, R.A.M., Plural member, 1973 Life Member
Excellent High Priest, 1992 & 1993
Grand Chapter of Michigan, R.A.M.
Grand Chaplain, 1975-1981
Education Committee, 1975-1980
York Rite Cooperation Committee, 1980-1981
Presented Zerubbabel Apron for Membership, 1991
Kalamazoo Council #63, R.&S.M. 1967
Thrice Illustrious Master, 1977
Michigan Council of T.I.M.s, 1977
Grand Council of Michigan, R.&S.M.
Grand Chaplain, 1991
Peninsular Commandery #8, K.T., 1961
Eminent Commander, 1982
Battle Creek Commandry No.33, K.T.
Honorary Member, Easter Day 1994
Grand Commandery of Michigan, K.T.
Past Commanders Association, 1994
Western Michigan York Rite College No.10, Knighted 1975
Order of the Purple Cross from the Sovereign College of North America
Michigan Priory No.22, Knights York Cross of Honor, 1986 Life Member
Valley of Grand Rapids, A.A.S.R. 1967
Orator, C.W. MacKenzie 33rd degree class
Member R & R Committee, 10 years
Most Wise Master Robinson charter rose Croix, 1984 & 1985
Soloist & Master of Chorister, 1987-2007
Membership Committee, 1994
33rd Degree 1993
Michigan Council of Deliberation, A.A.S.R., 1980
Meritorious Service Award, 1989
33rd Degree Honorary Member of the Supreme Council A.A.S.R.,
Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S. of A., 1994
Royal Order of Scotland, 1988
Saladin Shrine Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., 1972 Life Member
Kalamazoo Shrine Club, 1973
Mattawan Chapter #192, O.E.S. Life Member 1972
Schoolcraft Corinthian Chapter #123 O.E.S. Life Member 1967
President, 1980 & 1981
C.W. MacKenzie Scottish Rite Club
President, 1980 & 1981
Kalamazoo Valley Council #437 Allied Masonic Degrees
Founding Member 2004
Sovereign Master 2004
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