Jane Ethel Steels
Jane Ethel Steels
  • 101 years old
  • Date of birth: Mar 10, 1908
  • Date of passing: Jan 29, 2010

     Jane Ethel Steels, a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend was a giant among men.  A native of Coffeyville, Kansas, she graduated from Arkansas City High School, and attended Langston University in Oklahoma, majoring in Domestic Science.  She taught Home Economics, coached the girl's basketball team, and served as a 4H Club leader in the Bristow, Oklahoma school system.

     In 1932, Jane moved to California.  A true entrepreneur, during the "depression" years, she operated her own successful catering service; demonstrated and sold General Electric appliances for Beauman-Coleman Appliances; and worked as chef for the May Company's Wislhire store.  In 1950, she became the Home Economic Assistant to Mercedes Gaffney and later Janice Taylor of KABC-TV; leaving there in 1955 to join the Department of Water and Power (DWP) Home Economics staff.

     Her prowess in sales found her assigned to the Matchless House, Brooklyn, Broadway and Slauson-Vermont offices, and the Crenshaw Electric Living Center.  She was an excellent advocate for total electric living.  The consummate home economist, Jane could be counted upon to give an outstanding demonstration on electric appliances of the day, showcasing a creative and beautiful display of finished foods that she had prepared.  She became highly regarded as an authoritative source on any questions relating to major and portable electric appliances, in addition to food preparation and clothing care.        Jane was a trailblazer.  She took her love for home economics to the male dominated real estate profession.  Her first endeavor in real estate was a four-plex in Compton, which she completely rehabbed with the help of her daughter.  She later sold the property for profit and purchased another four-plex and completely rehabbed it.  She leveraged this expertise to become the first African-American female developer in the Normandy Five Housing and Urban Development project, personally developing the exterior of more than 20,000 homes.  At an age when most are considering retirement, she modernized her apartment building to convert it to total electricity, and played the dual role of landlady and owner.        Jane was woman of many talents.  Another of her great accomplishments was her mastery of Duplicate Bridge.  This strategic version of the sophisticated card game was both challenging and funny to Jane.  Challenging because it required her to invest her mental acuity to defeat her opponents; which she did often, but funny because the various expressions on each players face as they realized the outcome of a particular contract was delightfully humorous to her.  Her excellence in the game garnered her many awards and trophies.  Displayed on her living room wall were several of this distinguished awards that included the Western Section Outstanding Life Master Place 1988; the Harmony Duplicate Bridge Club Allendover Award 1987; the First in Section Award - ABA-Diamond; and the Open Pairs First Place 1988.  Jane once said "I have received so many trophies that I refuse to accept anymore."  When asked why, she replied "Because I had to keep them dusted off all the time."        Jane held many professions which she perfected and which afforded her a comfortable living, but her prized profession was that of Mother to her daughter May, grandmother to Kimberly and Michael, and most recently that of great-grandmother to Brianna, Maynard and Braylen.  She instilled in the lives of her child and grandchildren a strong work ethic and a tenacity that few ever achieve; traits that they will undoubtedly pass on to their children.  It would take a volume greater than the space afforded here to truly highlight her many accomplishments.  Suffice it to say that Jane Ethel Steels was a lady who made a difference in so many ways.  Her legacy is indelible.        A life span of 101 years is for some a long time, but to those who knew and loved Jane, her passing was much too soon.
Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Jill Bell on 3rd February 2010

"A life well lived!  The staff of The Final Words, Inc. wishes the family many fond memories of this extraordinary life who for them is gone too soon."


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Jill Bell

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