John Wray Steggall Sr. died at home of natural causes at the age of 86 under the care of his devoted wife Gratia, eldest son John Jr., grandson Patrick and caregiver Claudette. Anyone who knew John, whether encountering him for the first time or the hundredth time, enjoyed his good-natured sense of humor.
John was born on August 31st, 1934 in Kansas City, MO. He was the first child of Howard Bate Steggall and Helen Hurd Mitchell. His sister Elizabeth joined the family a few years later. John spent his childhood in Pittsburg, PA and Birmingham, MI, where he attended Cranbrook School. After earning a mechanical engineering degree at Yale University in 1956, he flew planes as a lieutenant for the Navy while stationed in Pensacola, FL, where he met his wife, Gratia Brown. He later earned an MBA from Kent State in 1971. John worked as a mechanical engineer for his entire career with Detroit Diesel and Terex, a division of General Motors, where he designed diesel engines for earth moving equipment.
John ran track and played ice hockey at Cranbrook, Yale and continued to play in hockey leagues until he was 78. When not watching hockey on TV, John could be found at the gym, or riding 30-60 miles with various cycling clubs. He was an avid fan of classical music and Shakespeare. John enjoyed singing in Yale’s Glee club and in church choirs. He also enjoyed teasing and wrestling with his grandkids and taking them on ski trips.
John and Gratia were married in 1957 and moved to Washington DC to establish a family. John Jr. was born in 1958 in Bethesda, MD. After moving to Birmingham, MI, their family expanded again in 1960 with the birth of their second son, James Howard. The family later moved to Chagrin Falls, OH, where the boys attended high school. After retiring, John and Gratia moved to Tucson, AZ, finally settling in Davis, CA in 2011.
John Sr. reveled in raising his sons. He coached them in sports, canoed rivers in the mid-West and Canada with them, played countless hours of catch and sat patiently at swim meets. He organized many family cross country camping trips to expose his sons to the wonders of US and Canadian national parks and historic monuments. Throughout their marriage of 63 years, John and Gratia traveled the world and kept fit by biking, skiing, golfing and playing tennis.
John is survived by his sister Elizabeth, wife Gratia, sons John Jr. and Jim, grandchildren Patrick, Erik, Haley, Nathaniel and Helen and great granddaughter, Elin. John will be interred at the Veterans’ Cemetery in Dixon, CA, in a private military honors ceremony.
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