My dad, Paul Steel, Jr., passed away in September of 2000. Today he would have been ninety-five.
He was a teacher and a geologist and a great dad. I miss him so much. He would be so thrilled to see his grand-daughter living at the family farm where her father grew up and raising a house full of children. He adored Audrey and was so proud when she enlisted in the Navy. Dad served in the Navy in WWII as did my father-in-law, Dave Blankenship, who was a pilot.
My parents went to high school with Brad’s parents. Small town! Everyone knows everyone else. Or used to. It’s not quite the same nowadays but there are still folks from my generation who remember my dad and took geology from him at Grayson College back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Before that he taught Distributive Education at Sherman High School in the neighboring city. He loved teaching and was very good at it.
Dad taught me how to study. When I was in high school I had a habit of putting off studying and then would try to cram for the next class. Dad taught me how to use my time without getting overwhelmed.
He was big on getting his students to look for the topic sentence in paragraphs and make notes. In college we just highlighted those passages. He taught us to read the chapters that he gave us as homework, start to finish, and put the book down. Then we would go back and re-read those chapters and find the topic sentences and note them down along with pertinent facts that went with the topic and put the book down.
Before class we would scan back over the topic sentences and our notes and we would be ready for class. It worked. I quit being all nutted up about taking exams or studying for class the next day.
We went on field trips and fishing trips and he would make it a point to introduce my brother and I to people he knew like the bank president or the man who owned the dry cleaning business that he had known since high school.
I’ll never forget when Brad showed up at our house to pick me up for our first date. Dad opened the door and invited him in and commented that he looked familiar. Brad replied, “You probably know my father, sir. Dave Blankenship.” My dad promptly yelled to my mom at the other end of the house, “Wanda! It’s Dave and Wanda Blankenship’s boy, Brad!” And I immediately thought, great…our parents know one another. How lovely. As it turns out it was lovely. They were wonderful people and I spent almost as much time at the farm while I was dating Brad as I did at my own home with my own parents.
Dad thought Brad was awesome and he was so proud when Brad got into law enforcement. I was pregnant with Audrey at the time. And Brad thought the world of my dad, too. He still misses him and his stories. Dad told some pretty good jokes as well as some interesting stories about people he met and worked with and he was thrilled to find out that Brad had begun teaching at Grayson College where he had taught. When Brad was named director of the Police Academy at the college his office was where my dad’s old office had been. Dad would have gotten a kick out of that.