Lois Sharon Steele, 66, of Parkersburg, died on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Baltimore, Md., as a result of liver failure due to bile duct cancer.
Since her diagnosis in 2008, our "Wonder Woman" overcame a barrage of health-related issues, each time emerging more determined to continue living and helping others. Sharon was born in Elkins, W.Va., on Sept. 23, 1946, and raised in Moundsville, W.Va. She was preceded in death by her parents, "Janie" Lois Marie Wise and James Stiles, her brother-in-law Dan Steele, and other close friends and relatives.
The joy of reading and teaching reading is Sharon Steele's legacy. If you did not know her personally, she was the stranger you encountered whose sparkling eyes and easy conversation brightened your day. Sharon taught countless children to read at Lincoln Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and then through her literacy coaching work at the Wood County Board of Education Central Office. Each child she met knew that she saw him or her as a reader. She eagerly shared her expertise with other educators as a literacy and math presenter on the local, state and national levels, and as an Adjunct Professor at Marshall University. In 1999, Sharon was honored with the prestigious Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Since 2007, she worked tirelessly to organize professional development for Wood County teachers as Title I Basic Skills Specialist. She also poured her heart into planning the Title I Summer School each year so that children in our area could maintain their math and reading skills during the break. Up to one week before her passing, Sharon was excitedly looking forward to helping coordinate this year's summer school.
Some of Sharon's fondest memories involved conversations with little ones while reading children's literature. Recognizing a need in the community, Sharon proposed that her colleagues in the Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Organization for Women Educators, Pi Chapter, join her in donating teacher-selected, age-appropriate books for each young reader in a new Habitat for Humanity home. That project blossomed, and Sharon passionately wrote grant applications to buy more books for those children.
Her daughters, Mary Beth Steele of Washington, D.C., and Jan Marie Steele of Lexington, S.C., will try their best to carry on Sharon's torch of teaching, social justice and love of the arts. Sharon was grateful to her brother Ron Boggess, sister-in-law Marilyn Haines and brother-in-law Bob Haines for their love and support during her "adventures." Sharon also loved her siblings Mary Jane Boggess Couto (husband Richard) and Don Boggess (fiancee Mary), her sister-in-law Cheryl Steele, her aunt Betty Gainer, her nieces Susan Haines (husband Ed Miller), Leann Haines and Tabitha Boggess, and her nephews Randall Loy (fiancee Crystal), John Boggess (wife Amber) and Craig Boggess. May Sharon's creative spirit live on in the dancing, playing and laughing of her grand-niece Charlotte and grand-nephews Tylor, Timmy and Le'Mani. Sharon thought of Kiyoko (Numachi) Katsuta (husband Tomoya, son Hodaka, daughter Shiho) as her third beloved daughter.
Friends Sharon considered family include (in alphabetical order): Frank and Vickie Bono, Linda Gainer, Michelle Gray, Karen and Dale Grimm, Judy Johnson, Sue Ellen Johnson, Pam Lyons, Jane McGuffey, Deanna McGurgan, Sandy McKinney, John and Bridie Merritt, Judy Prater, Jenny Reynolds, Jorge Luis Rivera, Laura Rogers, Mary Lee Ruppel, Michelle and Dick Shields, Carolyn and Marshall Stanley, Lucy Sullivan, Dianne Wharton, her church family at Emmanuel Baptist Church, and other wonderful friends who know who they are. Sharon wanted to thank her many school colleagues and the Board of Education Central Office staff for their support throughout her 40+ years of teaching. The family thanks Dr. Richard Schulick, Dr. James Hamilton and the entire crew of angels at Johns Hopkins Medicine for having helped make possible an additional four and a half amazing years together.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 1:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1710 23rd Street, Parkersburg, WV, 26101 (www.ebcwv.com). Brightly colored attire welcome.
If you would like to make a donation, Sharon asked that you consider helping provide books to children through her Habitat for Humanity Book Project. Checks may be made payable to Alpha Delta Kappa, Pi Chapter, and sent to C. Leatherman, 2539 David Lee Dr., Parkersburg, WV 26101.
Alternatively, buy a book for a child and take the time to read it aloud together. Then read that book again, and again, and again, until the child is reading it to you.