Cheney Free Press -



Cheney's Judi Steele loves bringing joy to people


Judi Steele

Judi Steele with her 7-year-old granddaughter Hannah at Lego Land.

Judi Steele is one of those rare people who have real compassion for others and gives it generously.

Judi, at the age of five came west with her parents and her brother, from Nebraska to Montana. Her mother was a teacher, her father a farmer. "I grew up on a farm," Judi said.

When she was 23 Judi briefly attended Kinman University in Spokane. Although she is adept in many other endeavors, in 1967 Judi found her real niche in caring for Alzheimer's patients and those who just needed a helper by their side. She studied gerontology at Spokane Community College and courses in liberal arts as well.

Judi has worked with Cheney's Home Care and Rockwood Community Manor. Judi also worked at Tekoa as an in-home and independent living assistant. She has found the patients responded well to her help.

When Expo 1974 came to Spokane Judi worked at the Red Gate Butterfly souvenir and gift shop. She learned a skill on the spot.

"I had a small instrument that engraved people's names on their jewelry. It was a popular thing for the Expo visitors. Some of the Lawrence Welk musicians were there. Wilt Chamberlin, called 'Wilt the Stilt' because he was so tall, was among them but I didn't get to see him," she said. Apparently folks kept her busy engraving names on their jewelry.

Judi met Garth Steele in 1991. As an STA bus driver he drove right by her house. Riding a bus was her only means of transportation. Sometimes she was the only passenger on Garth's bus. They became friends, had lunch together and enjoyed their conversations. Judi and Garth were married in July 1993 at the gazebo in Sutton Park.

"Just as we were saying our vows the STA bus went by, a fitting addition to our marriage," she said.

"I like cats," Judi said with a definite tone to her voice. At times she has taken hers out for a walk. There they were, trotting along together. Judi said some people had to stop and watch the parade. She didn't mind.

Judi enjoys 1,000 word jigsaw puzzles of all descriptions. She collects snowmen. However, they must have certain characteristics, every snowman must have a stovepipe hat and a long carrot nose. Others need not apply.

Her best hobby is one that touches other people in a warm, positive way. She is a birthday caller. It is amazing how many people have never heard somebody say "Happy Birthday." Sometimes Judi will take a few minutes to chat. She has probably made many a friendship and lightened the day for a large number of people. She also sends birthday cards. And again, some have never before received one of those.

"I put trivia in my letters, little jokes, funny things. I try to find somebody famous whose name is the same as the birthday person. Occasionally I find an interesting place as well," said Judi.

The picture is of Judi and her granddaughter, 7-year-old Hannah at "Lego Land" in Carlsbad, Calif. The boy with his back to the camera just happened to be there. Judi said everything in Lego Land is made from Legos. It's lots of fun for kids. The things you see in the background are made from Legos.

Judi and Garth have an abundance of grandchildren in their blended family. You've seen Hannah. Next is Alyssa. We speak of deceased Nicole, who was killed in a car accident. Kyle is 19, Spencer, 25; Dalles, 22; Macayla, 11 and Kelsey is 3. You can guess all the fun at a family gathering. Judi and Garth Steele, truly together, sharing sunshine and good will as they go.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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