The word “legend” is often overused, but in the case of Dr. John Steele, it’s a completely accurate description of a veterinarian whose remarkable reputation was no exaggeration.
Dr. Steele, who died last week at the age of 91, continued his practice until the end with never a thought of retiring.
“Rest and you rust; motion is lotion,” he said to me a few years ago, and while he was discussing a prescription for his equine patients at the time, it applied to him as well. He was never one to sit on the sidelines; involvement was his tonic.
While his skill at diagnosis and treatment brought him a roster of famous patients, he was someone to whom all horses mattered.
As he once told Jennifer Calder in the Chronicle of the Horse, “To me, the most important thing about my life is the horse. They are good for me and I will be good to them. That is my goal until the day I day.”
The animals Doc treated included such boldface names as Gem Twist, Authentic, Eros, Glasgow and Indigo, but he grew up on a farm where his first equine contact was with draft horses. He also became involved with standardbreds because his father loved harness racers.
Graduating in 1946 from Cornell University’s veterinary college, he went back there as the school’s youngest assistant professor.But it was in private practice where he made his name. Dr. John Steele & Associates is located in Vernon, N.Y., and he also spent winters in Wellington, Fla., to serve his clients.
Dr. Steele is survived by his wife, Suzanne; five children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A celebration of his life is planned for 6-8 p.m. Monday, March 13 at the Patio at Polo in the Polo Club, 11198 Polo Club Road, Wellington, Fla. Everyone is welcome to attend and share memories and photos. RSVP to email@example.com.
Those who wish to make a contribution in Doc’s memory should consider the John R. Steele ’46 Graduate Scholarship Fund established in his honor at Cornell University eight years ago. It benefits veterinary students with a farm background and an interest in equine medicine. The fund is geared to opening doors for those who might not have considered a Cornell education to be within their reach.
To donate by mail, send a check to John R. Steele, DVM ’46 Graduate Scholarship, C/O Office of Alumni Affairs & Development, Box 39, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401.
To donate on line, go to this link .