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Raymond W. "Ray" Steele 1915-1952


Posted By: Merllene Andre Bendixen (email)
Date: 2/24/2012 at 20:46:42

Ray Steele Killed in Two-Car Traffic Crash
Berghefer Critically Injured
Men on Way to Scout Grid Game
By Hoyt Luithly
Raymond W. (Ray) Steele, beloved Estherville high school athletic coach and science teacher, was killed last night in a near head-on collision at the Truesdale junction about five miles north of Storm Lake.

Boyd J. Berghefer, assistant coach and history teacher, was critically injured in the same accident, suffering a broken back. Superintendent of the Buena Vista county hospital where Berghefer is a patient reported to the Daily News at 10:15 this morning that he “is no worse than when he was brought in last night.” The superintendent said that because of his critical condition it had been impossible as yet to take X-rays to determine the exact extent of his injuries. It was reported that he is paralyzed from the waist down.

Six others riding in the car which collided with the one which Berghefer was driving were all hospitalized at Storm Lake. One, Mrs. Glen Nelson, of Cherokee, wife of the driver of the other car, was still in critical condition at 10:15 today suffering from shock and severe lacerations. Her husband, who suffered chest injuries is seriously injured and was described as “worse this morning.” Four young people, all riding with the Nelsons, were in “fair” and “good” condition. Glenda Nelson, 18, daughter of the Nelsons, suffered a fractured leg and is in “fair” condition; Karen Swanson, 17, What Cheer, suffered multiple bruises and lacerations and is in “fair” condition; Joanne Ryals, 19, Des Moines, suffered bruises and possible back injuries and is in “good” condition; and Mary Jo Bierman, 19, Cherokee, suffered a fractured back and is in “fair’ condition.

Steele and Berghefer were on their way to the Storm Lake-Emmetsburg football game on a scouting assignment for the Estherville-Emmetsburg game next week. Occupants of the other car were headed for Spencer to attend the Spencer-Cherokee high school football game.

According to Highway Patrolman Walter E. Gillette of Sac City, the car driven by Nelson was going east on highway 71 at a point where it intersects with a paved highway that runs north into Truesdale. The car Steele and Berghefer were riding in was headed west toward Storm Lake. According to Gillette, the Nelson car turned in front of Berghefer’s car in an attempt to turn north on the highway leading to Truesdale. Two cars stopped at the intersection witnessed the crash, Gillette said. The two cars collided headon near the center of the highway, he said.

The accident was reported as occurring at 7:20. Gillette said that Steele died of injuries suffered from being thrown so violently into the dash board. All injured were taken by ambulance to Storm Lake, the ambulance making three trips. It took half an hour to pry Nelson from his car by use of crow bars as he was so tightly wedged among the wreckage.

Word of the accident and Steele’s death reached Estherville near the end of the high school Homecoming football game with Sheldon. Almost immediately the stands became stilled, the fans were stunned and shocked at the tragic news. Many students were in tears upon learning of Ray’s death.

Ray was well liked and highly respected by the student body, his faculty colleagues and by townspeople of Estherville. On Thursday night he had been a principal speaker at the Homecoming Pep meeting and he had appeared to get great enjoyment out of speaking as an alumni of the high school and recounting experiences of his as a high school football player.

A home boy, Ray has been a member of the high school faculty here for eight years. He served as an assistant coach in all sports, as sponsor of the “E” club and of the National Athletic Honor Society.

Ray was born March 30, 1915 in Estherville. He attended local schools and graduated from high school here in 1933 and from junior college in 1936. He was graduated from Coe college in 1938 and taught and coached in Ely, Hopkington and Lamont schools before joining the faculty here.

While in high school, Ray played for three seasons as a regular on the undefeated Midget football teams of 1930, 1931 and 1932 under Max Lynn, now high school coach at Clinton. He played on the junior college football team for two years and was a member of the team of 1935 which won a mythical state junior college championship. He also was a regular on the Coe college teams of 1936 and 1937. While in high school he competed in all major sports.

Ray was elected to membership in the National Athletic Scholarship Society while in high school in 1933. This honor is open to any athletic earning a varsity letter, who is above average in scholarship and who exemplifies the highest type of citizenship and sportsmanship. Ray also was recipient of the Elks scholarship for deserving students who display outstanding leadership and scholastic ability and who are outstanding school and community citizens.

Ray truly enjoyed working with boys in their school athletic program and his kindly, patient manner endeared him to the boys with whom he worked. But he also was immensely popular in the classroom and students, athletes and non-athletes alike, were genuinely fond of Ray.

He especially enjoyed his work as sponsor of the “E” club and members of the organization, all past and present athletic letter winners, were deeply appreciative of Ray’s work with the group. At a spring meeting of the group a few years ago, Ray was presented a wrist watch from member of the club. He took a keen interest in the club’s activities and served the group well as its advisor.

Ray also was active in work in the Methodist church, serving as a Sunday school teacher for several years.

He was devoted to his family and could be described as a model father.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Nancy, 10, and Sandra, 8, and one son, Jack, four. His mother, Mrs. Alvin Sweet of Estherville; a brother, Vernon of Waterloo; and sisters, Mrs. Floyd Givens, and Geraldine Steele of Estherville, also survive. His father, Purl Steele, died in 1946 in Valpraiso, Ind. (Estherville Daily News, Estherville, IA, October 25, 1952)


Emmet Obituaries maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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