Passed on Saturday, 15 August 2020
The Rev. Mr. Kenneth Wade Steere died peacefully Saturday, August 15, 2020, at his home in Groton Long Point CT. Rev. Steere, husband of the late Eleanor Newell Steere, was born in Los Angeles, CA, the son of the late Edith Bowen Steere and the late Samuel Adams Steere.
He grew up in Akron and Bath, Ohio where he spent much time on an old farm that was part of the original Western Reserve. Ken assisted his parents and his four brothers to beautifully landscape the farm, "Windy Ridge," with gardens, trees, and ponds to resemble a part of New England. Ken attended the King Elementary School and Old Trail School. He graduated from Phillips Academy Andover, MA.
Ken attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT from September 1941 to December 1942. In January 1943, he enlisted in the United States Army to serve his country in World War II. He served with the 472nd Engineer Maintenance Company in the Pacific Theater, including the Philippine Liberation. In January 1946, after being honorably discharged, he returned home to Ohio. Ken returned to Wesleyan University one week later. He recounted that loud cheers emanated from Beta house when a fraternity brother would arrive back from the war.
Ken earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Wesleyan in 1948. Initially contemplating a geology major, after returning from the war, he majored in history and considered several careers. He felt called to the ministry and attended Yale Divinity School graduating with a Master of Divinity (MDIV) in 1951 with concentrations in Pastoral Psychology and the New Testament.
Ken married the love of his life, Eleanor "Ellie" Newell Steere in 1949. They met at Wesleyan during a campus fair in which the student veterans were raising money for the relief effort (CARE) in Europe. Ellie was visiting her younger brother who was Ken's fraternity brother. Ken and Ellie especially enjoyed the years at Yale where they lived in married graduate housing, Quonset huts, near the Yale Bowl. Ken was ordained a United Church of Christ, Congregational Minister in June 1951. He began his career as a parish minister in New England, serving Congregational Churches in Bridgewater and Roxbury MA, Nashua, N.H., Hamden and Manchester, CT. Ken and Ellie expanded their young family to five children during this time. They spent summers at their cottage in Groton Long Point, CT and enjoyed sailing and visiting with family and friends.
While living in Manchester, Ken began teaching part time at the newly established Manchester Community College. He enjoyed teaching immensely and embarked on a new career as a full-time Psychology Professor and ultimately became the Department Chairman. He also remained in the ministry. He became the Protestant Chaplain at Mansfield Training School, serving clients of the largest state institution for the developmentally disabled.
Ken was able to merge the two careers by developing a Human Service Degree Program for individuals working with the developmentally disabled. It was one of six such programs in the country. It was used as a model by other community colleges. Ken initiated the formation of a group home on the campus of Manchester Community College.
He served on the Human Rights Committee at Mansfield Training School. Ken also organized a student group of disabled and non-disabled students interested in conditions that impact upon the disabled. Ken taught several courses beyond the standard psychology courses: Characteristics of the Developmentally Disabled, Elements of Behavior Modification, and a Developmental Disabilities seminar. To tie into his career and training as a minister, he also taught courses about the Philosophy of Religion and Death and Dying.
Ken retained his ties to Yale. In 1980-81, he was a faculty fellow at Yale through the Mellon Foundation. In 1981-82 he was a mid- career Fellow at Yale in the Department of Psychology with the Bush Foundation.
His professional affiliations included the Connecticut State Chaplains Association, the Ecumenical Christian Council of Connecticut, the New England Council on Standards for Human Service Educators, the American Association for Mental Deficiency (AAMD). He has served on many community and state church committees, including the Hospice Executive Committee of the Health Systems Agency of Eastern Connecticut. He served on the Board of Directors of the Groton Long Point Association. He served on the Noank Harbor Commission.
Ken was devoted to his wife and his family. They were devoted to him as well. Holidays and birthdays were celebrated with a large gathering of family members. Dad's ability to always remain calm in any situation, his genuine kindness to everyone and his fundamental decency and sense of humor are legendary. He always looked for the good in everyone and would find it. He spent his last years, surrounded by his children, grandchildren, pictures of his wife Ellie, his pets and many books and cheering for the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots. Even in his last few months of life, he was active, attending the graduation parade of his youngest grandchild, and never turning down the opportunity to get an ice cream cone. He was truly a gift to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They will miss him dearly.
Ken leaves his five children, Anne S. Moore and her husband Alfred S. Moore Jr., Emily B. Steere, Ret. Col. Kenneth W. Steere Jr. USAF Reserve and his wife Diane Seibert, Douglas N. Steere and his wife Lisa, and Sarah E. Steere and her husband John K. Menezes. He leaves 13 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. He also leaves numerous nieces and nephews.
A private graveside service was held at the Noank Valley Cemetery. A Memorial Service will be held when the restrictions on large gatherings are eased. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ken's name may be made to any library or food bank in his memory.
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