There was no one like Fred. He could be funny; he could be very serious. He always had a joke or story to tell, or an old adage to quote. He was wise, even as a young boy.
Fred was born at home, in Chillicothe, Ohio, on September 11,1942, to Lillian I. Crain and Fred E, Steele, the sixth of eleven children. He was an outgoing little boy and never met a stranger. He always said that his sister, Greta, raised him after his younger brother, Mike, came along eleven months later.
Fred was a boy, and then a man, driven to work and help his family. He was a paperboy with the Chillicothe Gazette at age eleven and barely able to carry the bag from the Gazette to his home on Water Street. He felt he needed to help his family. He was a caddy at the Chillicothe Country Club when he was old enough and got his first taste of the game he later loved – GOLF. He later joined the Club and played with any number of golfing buddies. In high school, he worked afternoons and evenings as a delivery boy for Doc and Alice Anderson of the old Anderson’s Drug Store. They were very supportive of him and his drive to get ahead and succeed in life.
He enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1961 and got out in July 1963, when he met his future wife, Gretchen Stein, at Lake White. She was enrolled as a freshman at Miami University in Oxford, and Fred decided to work at the State Highway Department to earn money to attend Miami, too. Fred and Gretchen married in August 1966, and both eventually graduated - Fred with a Bachelor’s in History.
After his graduation, they took a nest egg they had put away and went on a brief tour of Europe. The weather turned cold (after Oktoberfest), there was a longshoremen’s strike and a metro strike, so they flew home. They were still able to tour six countries.
Fred accepted a supervisor’s job at Campbell’s Soup in Napoleon, Ohio. Gretchen became pregnant, and he decided to move closer to southern Ohio. He took a salesman’s job with Hennis Freight, and they bought a house in Clintonville. After their first son, Benjamin, was born, Fred decided he wanted to move back to Chillicothe, because of crime in the area. The couple bought a big, old house on Caldwell Street. Their second son, Jonathan, was born, and the whole family has enjoyed the neighbors and the neighborhood.
Fred started his own construction business and did well; then a close acquaintance encouraged him to talk to a Mead Paper Executive about a position they thought he would be well-suited for. He was hired and the job grew into more responsibility, and he thrived on responsibility! However, he had to retire in 2001 due to partial loss of his vision.
He then directed his energies to taking care of their small farm, as he no longer could play golf. During all this, Fred and Gretchen were rearing their boys and enjoying watching them grow into fine young men whom they are very proud of. The farm became a place to work, to be productive, and to entertain friends. It’s a beautiful place.
Fred loved his family, his home, his friends, his many Rottweilers he had over 50 years, and vacations they took to Holden Beach.
Fred was a member of Scioto Lodge #6 F & A.M., Chillicothe Restoration Foundation (leader of group to save Mount Logan School), Historic Chillicothe, Inc., and was a one-term 5th Ward City Councilman.
He also served on the Salvation Army Board for a number of years, and was a devoted member of the Barbershop Singing Group out of Circleville in his youthful days. Fred couldn’t read music but he could sing lead with the best of them.
Fred was extremely interested in politics and was a true Conservative. He believed in the Constitution and the rule of law.
Fred leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Gretchen, their sons, Ben and Jed, sisters Greta Miller, Beth (Fred) Park, and Marsha (Dave) Hammond; brothers Mike, Steve and Mark, and Stein in-laws, Tim and Marge Stein, Margaret (Peggy) Stein and Sarah Stein, along with many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by brother Bob, O. Gene, infant baby boy Steele, sister Louise Dreitzler, his parents and Gretchen’s father and mother, Sidney and Margaret Stein.
A Masonic Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday May 6, 2023 in Grandview Cemetery, with a graveside committal service following with Pastor Phil Rutherford, officiating. Memorial contributions may be sent to the charity of your choice.
The FAWCETT OLIVER GLASS AND PALMER FUNERAL HOME is honored to serve the family.
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