Barbara Mae Delores Brown Steele was born July 19, 1937 to the union of Henry Brown and Odessa Coleman in Dermott Arkansas. After living a Christ-centered, family and civic oriented life she departed this earthly realm on April 1, 2018 at the age of 80 in Madera, CA.
From that union five Children were born, Andrew (Billy June), William WC (Mona), Elmer (Ruby), Toni (Bobby) and Barbara. In the early 40s they moved to Chowchilla CA. There, they were all reared in their mother’s church, Open Door, Church of God and Christ, built by their father Henry. It was there that they received their early Christian teachings and love of God under the tutelage of Bessie Tate (Aunt Babe), and Sister Amey (Pet). Barbara graduated from Chowchilla High in 1955 and was the first African American cheerleader in the school’s history.
After being a homemaker for several years she entered the workforce where she worked for various banks. However she spent the majority of her career at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), where she worked until she retired.
On July 23, 1988 Barbara met the love of her life, Frank Steele. In Dec of 1989 they wed and spent many happy years together until Frank’s passing. In Frank’s own words, “It appears I have met my soul-mate. Along comes a lady who is witty, well-read, loves to travel and entertain, career-minded and good looking to boot.” Barbara took an early retirement to join Frank in Seaside CA, where they traveled the world, entertained and played rousing games of “Quarters”. They were also members of the Monterey Jazz festival. There they ran into friends, old and new. That was one of the highlights of their year.
In 1983, Barbara started Baynet, a networking organization for black professionals. It was there that she became a leader in the networking field. It was the first of its kind and was a major success. Other organizations she was involved in included, but not limited to: Women for Positive Communications, Warriors of Light, and TABS, the Association of Black Secretaries. Barbara was also the literary agent to J California Cooper, an award winner author.
Her influences within these organizations are still apparent today.
She was a hands-on grandmother and cherished any time she spent with grandchildren. Joshua Aaron kept her laughing with his sense of humor and always cooked for her. Her only granddaughter, Ziale Elise was her pride and joy who currently excelling at UC Santa Barbara. Barbara relished the many hours spent with Kyle Vaugh, the athlete of the family, playing games hours on end. She had one great-grandson, Justin Bruce who held a very special place in her heart.
She is survived by her four loving children, Cynthia Lynn, Melanie Gwynne, Gordon Neil, and Sterling Bruce, daughter in law, Monica Evans, grandchildren, Joshua, Corey, Ziale, Kyle, and great-grandchild Justin. Brother in-law Bobby Williams, Sister In-law Ruby Brown, Cousin Ollie B Tate (Johnny). Barbara also leaves behind a host of beloved nieces, nephews, family members and cherished friends.
Her treasured sister, Toni, and brothers, Andrew, William (WC) and Elmer preceded her in death.
She will be laid to rest next to her parents Henry and Odessa Brown.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 9:00AM to 11:00 AM at Jay Chapel, Madera, CA
Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 11:15 AM at Jay Chapel, Madera, CA.
Interment to follow at Chowchilla Cemetery