American Veteran 04

Bruce R. Steele

February 3, 1924 ~ February 12, 2021 (age 97)


Bruce R. Steele, 97, of Tonica, passed away in his home February 12, 2021. Private services will be in the Hurst Funeral Home in Tonica with burial in the Granville Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. He was born February 3, 1924 to James J and Mildred Phillips Steele.  He married Phyliss Gene Buhn on February 2, 1947. They were married 53 years until her death in 2000.  Bruce’s mother died when he was five years old and his father died when he was fifteen. He also lost his brother, Burdette, in an accident at Christmas 1932, when Burdette was fifteen and Bruce eleven.  On the death of his father in 1938, he moved in with his Grandparents James and Elizabeth Steele. Grandfather James had emigrated to the United States from Scotland and had a career in the mining industry where he was the mine superintendent of the Mark and Cherry Mines, and was mine superintendent at the time of the Cherry Mine Disaster in 1909. Bruce served in World War II after graduating high school. He was a Radioman 2nd class on the Destroyer Escort USS Alvin Cockrell serving in the Western Pacific area escorting Air Craft Carriers from 1944 to 1946 and served in Japan after the war ended where his ship evacuated American and British prisoners of war.  After he left the Navy in 1946, he moved to Tonica when he began farming on the family farm.  He also had his own electrical, heating and plumbing business in Tonica. He served on the Tonica Village Board 1952 to 1970 when he resigned to take over the operation of the village water and sewer plans which he did for fourteen years. He also served on the Tonica High School Board for sixteen years, eight years as its president.  He was a fireman with the Tonica Volunteer Fire Department for thirty-one years including two years as chief. He served twenty years as a trustee of Eden Township. He is survived by his sons, Robert (Cynthia ) Steele of Granville, James (Karen) Steele of Tonica, five grandchildren, James and Jeff Steele of Tonica, Jennifer (Roger) Konczak of Tonica, Natasha (Hiren) Patel of Woodridge, Matthew (Samantha Minc-Steele) Steele of Morgantown, West Virginia, and four great grandchildren, Christian and Sophia Konczak, Ariya Patel and Sarah Minc-Steele. His latest grandchild, Sarah, was born on his birthday, February 3, 2021. He was a member of the Tonica Methodist Church, Putnam County Historical Society, LaSalle County Genealogical Society, Tonica Masonic Lodge, the American Legion and the Destroyer Escort Association. He was preceded in death by his wife Phyllis, his sister, Marjorie Ann, and brother, James Frederic, two grandchildren, Nathan and Andrew Steele and his special friend, Edna Johnson. The online guest book may be viewed and remembrances shared at

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Private Services

Hurst Funeral Home in Tonica

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