Craig Merritt Steele, our son, father, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend, passed away Sunday, November 6, 2022, from a recent illness. He was an energetic, passionate man who left us too soon. Craig and our mother had an intense bond that formed the center of this family’s connections. He will be and in truth is already missed.
Craig was born July 31, 1954, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Robert Ligon and Elizabeth Roop Steele. Happy and outgoing he played every sport that he came upon, read every book that he could find as soon as he could read, and ran up and down the alley behind our house in search of kids who wanted to play. He learned to play soccer, playing well enough to be moved up to play with the next oldest group of kids.
Craig was ten, when the family moved to Valparaiso, Indiana. He picked up right where he had left off, immediately making friends and continuing to excel in school. He was such a loyal friend that he kept many of those friendships from high school, college, and graduate school right up until the time of his death. In high school he played JV football and lettered in varsity track and cross country, graduating near the top of his class. Because there was no organized soccer in northwest Indiana at the time, he went looking for games and other players at the local university, an effort that later grew into the county’s recreational soccer league.
Graduating from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1976 with a double major in mathematics and economics, he was an Academic All-American soccer player at Knox and a member of Phi Delta Theta. After graduation Craig traveled to Spain, where he was able to play a few games set up for him by his coach, Jorge Prats. This past May he was instrumental as a part of the 1973 Men’s soccer team in arranging and dedicating the Archway entry to Prats Field at the College.
He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and married Janet Early shortly after his graduation. His career in finance provided him with opportunities to travel the world, doing business in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Russia, and in South America, where he would sometimes play with the companies’ soccer teams. He was able to live with his family outside of the country in Toronto and London, where he was CFO of G.D. Searle Pharmaceuticals Europe. After Searl was purchased by Montsanto, Craig and his family returned to the United States living in the Philadelphia area, where Craig continued working in finance in several different companies. Prior to his recent retirement he worked as a consultant eventually landing in Cincinnati.
He was a big sports fan starting in Baltimore with the Colts and Orioles. He had season tickets to the Bulls, when he lived in Chicago, and after he could no longer play soccer, he watched the Premier League. Exercise was important; he was always a runner, but when his hips started to bother him, he switched to cycling, riding 30 miles a day outside or on his exercise bike indoors. His retirement was spent traveling around the country to be with friends often to go on cycling trips with them.
Craig is survived by his ex-wife Janet, the mother of his children, his daughters, Ellen Early Steele, working in donor relations for WHYY in Philadelphia and her partner Brian, and Emma Merritt Steele, a pediatric travel nurse, and his son Lt. Marshall Ligon Steele, MD. a naval psychiatrist assigned to Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and his partner Jessica (He was exceedingly proud of all of his children.); his mother, Elizabeth Steele, his siblings, Bob (wife Liz and daughters Evangeline and Lizzie), Cathy (husband Tom Tarzian), and David (wife Susan and children David and Lauren with her husband Sean Badger); his aunts, cousins, and many friends, including Lisa Brahm. Craig was the cord connecting all of these cousins, friends, siblings, aunts and uncles across the distances that separate us physically. He lived his days to the fullest binding us together with his love.
A graveside service will be held at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday, November 18, at 11:00. His many friends will hold a memorial on December 3rd in Valparaiso, Indiana. A Scholarship fund has been set up in Craig’s name at Knox College (Craig Steele Memorial Scholarship).
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