Francis William Steele passed away Sept. 10, 2019, two weeks short of his 94th birthday, surrounded by the people who loved him most in the world. With his passing our country loses another WWII veteran and member of the “Greatest Generation.”
Francis was born in Goshen, Utah, on Sept. 24, 1925, to William Leonard and Mary Evelyn Steele. He learned to work hard at an early age, quitting school to help on the family farm and work as a sheep herder throughout northern Utah.
At the age of 18, Francis was drafted into the U.S. Army and found himself in the middle of WWII in the European Theater. He participated in many engagements including the “Battle of the Bulge.” He was honorably discharged in 1946 after receiving the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for bravery. Francis loved to share his war stories with everyone. He was fortunate to be honored in 2015 by participating in the Honor Flight which flies veterans to Washington DC to visit the WWII memorial.
After returning from the war, Francis moved to Tooele where he fell in love with a cute soda jerk at Tate Confectionary. He married LaRona Lee on Nov. 7, 1952. They had many wonderful years together and raised two lucky girls, Lisa and Michelle. After 66 years of marriage she passed away May 18, 2018.
Francis was employed at the Tooele Army Depot and retired after 39 years of service. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was active in the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and served as both state and national commanders. He was also a member of the VFW and the Tooele Eagles, where he was the secretary for many years.
Francis truly loved life and will be remembered for many things. He always had a joke on hand (some clean and some not so clean) and was known as an incredible tease. He loved to hunt and fish and could out hike anyone. He had an amazing vegetable garden and always had plenty to share. He also loved to bake, especially at Christmas and everyone who visited would go home with multiple treats.
Francis is survived by his daughters and their spouses, Lisa and Mike Chriss, and Michelle and Dale Nielson; grandchildren and their spouses, Lindsay and Michael Crane and Taylor and Dausha Chriss; grandchildren, Hanna Nielson and Sam Nielson; two great-grandsons, Christopher Crane and Andrew Crane; and sister, Ila May Wiley, of Ivins.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his sweetheart, LaRona; six sisters and two brothers.
A viewing for family and friends will be held Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with funeral service to begin at 1 p.m., at Tate Mortuary, 110 S. Main St., Tooele, Utah. Military graveside honors to follow at the Tooele City Cemetery.
The family wishes to thank the many wonderful caregivers who watched over Francis during his most recent decline, especially the nursing and CNA staff at Coventry Assisted Living. Your love and concern made all the difference.