Roy Edward Steele died on Sunday, June 24, at the age of 100 in Amarillo, Texas. He was born April 8, 1918 in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, five miles from Pittsburgh, to Virginia Mary (Adams) Smock and Glenn Roy Smock. After his father’s early death, Roy’s mother married Frank Wilbert Steele, who adopted Roy and his brother, John Charles (Jack) Smock.
Roy graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School in McKees Rocks in 1936. He attended Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Institute of Technology) in Pittsburgh from 1936-1938.
From there, Roy (eventually known in business as R.E. Bob Steele) began experiencing many kinds of employment: cafeteria work in Cleveland, apprenticeship at McKay Chainworks and Federal Enamel & Stamping, ushering in the historic Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA, mechanic at American Radiator, and conducting for the Pittsburgh Railways where he was a cable car driver until he joined the military.
Roy enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942 as a member of the 327 Bomber Squad assigned to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. He served for a time as a cook and in the Baker Alligator Squadron and, in the course of this latter work, was injured and honorably discharged. Roy returned to his beloved career with the Pennsylvania Railways before setting off for California where he was employed by the Broadcasters Network Studios in Los Angeles. While in L.A., Roy enjoyed working as a parking lot attendant that was reserved for Hollywood stars.
It was the love of broadcasting that took Roy to Tucumcari, New Mexico where he was a voice for KTNM and ultimately to Amarillo to help establish KAMQ. He traveled extensively at one time to promote a new and rising young star – Dean Martin from Steubenville, Ohio.
While thinking that he was temporarily residing in Amarillo for work, Roy met Mary Eleanor Morrow while singing in the church choir at Sacred Heart Cathedral. They married in 1953 and had four children: Bob, Cathy, Cindy, and J.P. Roy and Mary were members of St. Joseph’s Parish in Amarillo beginning in 1954 and were active in the parish for decades. Roy was a lector and usher, and he chaired committees for parish jubilees and celebrations. He was also a member of Serra International and helped to promote vocations in the Church.
Roy worked for Bell Chemical Company for 20 years, eventually establishing his own chemical water treatment business - Alco Laboratories. He serviced clients across the panhandle area, notably St. Anthony’s Hospital and West Texas State University. Retiring in 1990, Roy continued enjoying his favorite activities - his love of cars, reading, music, cuisine, the Cowboys and Rangers, and spending time with his family. He joined the St. Thomas the Apostle Adult Choir after his wife died, lending his bass voice to a ministry he loved and working with choir members who became lifelong friends. Roy continued living independently until sustaining a fall at the age of 98.
Roy is preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Mary Morrow Steele, his parents Virginia and Glenn Smock, his stepfather Frank Steele, his brother Jack Steele, his sister-in-law, Rose Skvarj Steele, his grandparents Catherine and Bill Adams and a nephew Roy Steele. He is survived by his four children Bobby (Paula) Steele, Cathy (Sr. Mary Ana) Steele, Cindy (Steve) Steele Lopez of Houston and J.P. (Robin) Steele, a granddaughter, Lauren Steele, and a grandson, Ryan Steele, and several nieces and nephews.
The family acknowledges with gratitude the love and care that Roy received from his compassionate caregivers over the last two years. He made new and cherished friends even at the age of 98+.
Visitation is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26, from 6:30 - 7:30 and a Vigil Service and rosary at 7:30 in the chapel of Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 S. Georgia in Amarillo. The funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, June 27, at 2:00 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church at 4100 S. Coulter in Amarillo. Burial will follow in Llano Cemetery.
Memorials may be made in honor of Roy’s 100 years to Sancta Maria Convent at PO Box 906 in Panhandle, TX, 79068 or to the St. Thomas Adult Choir at 4100 S. Coulter in Amarillo, TX, 79109.